Lawn aerators improve the appearance of grass over time by penetrating the ground and allowing air and water deeper into the soil. As a result, the roots have better access to nutrients and fertilisers.
There are different types of aerator available, which can produce different results. Below, you will find information about how and when to use an aerator, as well as how to choose the best lawn aerator for your garden.
Benefits of Aerating the Lawn
Aerating the lawn can be beneficial in several ways. The effects can also vary depending on what type of aerator you are using.
If you’re planting new grass seed, aerating before sowing the seeds can give them the best possible start. This is just as true when overseeding as when planting grass seed for the first time.
Loosening the soil, improving the supply of oxygen, and creating good drainage creates a good environment for new grass seed, whilst benefitting any existing lawn.
Using spiked aerators that pierce the ground will allow air to reach grass roots as well as water. Grass roots will become stronger which will lead to a healthier lawn that’s better able to withstand heat and drought.
Creating pockets that air, water and fertiliser can get into can help improve your lawn’s uptake of nutrients.
If the aerator removes plugs of soil, it will make the soil less compact. This can help grass roots to establish, if they have become overcrowded, improving the health of the grass.
Removing plugs of soil can also help with drainage in compacted ground. If the ground is too compact, water can end up sitting on top of the soil, unable to drain. Not only can this make the garden unpleasant to walk in, but it can damage the grass and soil. Removing plugs of soil will help water drain better.
Some people choose to fill the plugged holes with sand in order to alter the composition of the soil and improve drainage and aeration throughout the area. The sand will eventually spread throughout the soil, carried by worms and ground movement, resulting in a better mix.
Whether this will be beneficial for your soil or not can depend on what type of soil you have. Adding sand to clay soil can cause it to lump together more, not less.
Choosing the Right Type of Aerator
There are 3 main types of aerator on the market – spike aerators, tine aerators and spiked aerator shoes.
Spike aerators are the most popular type of aerators. Many are simply pushed across the lawn. As the roller rotates, the spikes are pushed into the ground. Spike aerators are either manual or electric.
Spike aerators don’t remove any earth, so they don’t make the ground less compact in the same way as plug aerators. However, they still make holes that allow air, water and nutrients to get closer to the lawn roots. Manual spike aerators can be quite light, which makes it more difficult to keep the spikes in the ground.
Some people choose to add weights to the handles of these aerators in order to push them down. Electric aerators tend to be slightly heavier, because they have a motor.
Plug aerators have hollow tines and are usually pushed into the ground using your feet. They remove plugs of earth as opposed to just penetrating the soil. These are more effort to use, although they have the benefit of actively removing the soil, as opposed to just pushing it to the side.
Removing plugs of soil makes the ground less compact and also means that the holes can be filled with sand or a different soil, if you are trying to alter the composition of the ground. If parts of your garden frequently flood, you may benefit from removing plugs of soil, in order to make the ground less compacted.
Finally, there are spiked aerator shoes. These are definitely the best option for those who are looking to up their step count! They’re worn on your feet and will aerate your lawn as you walk around. They can also be worn whilst doing other jobs, like mowing the lawn, in order to multitask.
Whilst not the most comfortable of shoes, they can be slipped on over gardening boots without much difficulty. They usually have adjustable straps so will fit almost any shoe size.
Ease of Use
Electric or petrol-powered aerators are the least physically demanding aerators. The motor will do the brunt of the work. However, they are generally more expensive, and require more maintenance, so they’re only worthwhile if you intend to aerate frequently over larger areas.
Plug aerators can be more tiring to use than rotary spiked aerators. Pushing a plug aerator into the ground can require quite a lot of force, as can pulling it out again. A certain amount of upper body force is required, and this method can be too physically demanding for some people.
Using a rotary spiked aerator is less physically demanding than a plug aerator, as long as the ground is sufficiently soft. They can still be relatively hard work to push, especially as they need to be driven into the ground. As mentioned above, putting weights on a spiked aerator can help, but of course this will make it more taxing to push.
Spiked aerator shoes require a bit of getting used to, and some leg muscle as well, to pull the spikes out of the ground. But they can be a good way to cover small areas. You just need to be careful not to wear the shoes on any hard surfaces, as the spikes can bend and break. These shoe aerators won’t create as deep a hole as other types.
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