Spring Gardening Tips: Aerate your lawn

Your lawn can receive a lot of normal wear and tear because it’s such a high traffic area. This can cause the soil beneath your grass to become very compacted. Compacted soil can result in poor growth because it prevents air circulation and proper absorption of water and nutrients.

Lawn aeration simply means punching holes throughout your lawn to about 7cm deep. By doing this at least annually; your lawn will be greener, healthier and less prone to thatches.

How to aerate your lawn


1. Damp conditions are best for de-thatching and aerating so the general consensus is to do it in either Spring or Autumn. It’s important to allow enough time for the lawn to recover from the stress so don’t aerate at the tail-end of the season.

2. Here’s a tip. You can test your soil to check whether it needs aerating. Insert a screwdriver into the soil. soil. If the screwdriver goes in relatively easy, then your soil is fine and has no need of aeration. Your lawn may be in need of aeration if the screwdriver has a hard time pushing in.

3. Before aerating, it’s important to prepare your soil adequately. Mow the lawn first. Then clear any dead plants, fallen leaves, sticks and lawn cuttings. If this has formed into a layer of thatch, you will need to remove it as air and water won’t be able to penetrate the soil. You can use a spring-tined rake or powered lawn rake to do this.

4. Now you’re ready to aerate. You need to systematically poke holes in the ground either by spiking the lawn with a metal rod or garden fork. Push it into the soil to a depth of about 10cm and gently rock it back and forth. Repeat at 20cm spacings. If you have to aerate a large area, you may want to use a mechanical aerator to make it a quicker job.

There are devices you can hire called lawn corers which will actually remove small cores of soil and deposit them on the lawn or you can use this device to remove them completely. These soil cores contain microorganisms which can enrich the soil and decompose thatch so you may want to leave them on the lawn.

5. After you’ve aerated, on a dry day, evenly apply a thin layer of top-dressing to help loosen the soil and improve drainage. Use a spade or shovel to put the top-dressing on the lawn, then brush it out with a garden rake or broom. You can buy a top-dressing mixture or make it up yourself with the following ingredients:


  • 6 parts sharp horticultural sand

  • 3 parts sieved, good-quality loam

  • 1 part well-rotted organic matter

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