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The basic principle of aerating a lawn is to create slits, holes or fractures in the turf so that air and water, both essential for a grass plants healthy development, can penetrate beneath the surface.

Every lawn will be compacted to some degree through pedestrian traffic, children playing, mowing etc. The compaction layer will be some two inches or so beneath the surface but will vary in depth and level according to the soil type. Aerator

The process of aerating is to drive air channels into the turf which will allow oxygen, essential for root growth, to get into the compacted layer and also allow carbon dioxide, which is harmful as it will reduce the roots intake of water, to escape. Aeration also allows water to penetrate more effectively into the root structure. If the turf remains compacted the grass plant will receive reduced water intake in summer when it is generally drier and become waterlogged resulting in moss and thatch buildup in winter as excess water cannot permeate into the soil.

The aeration can be carried out manually through use of a thick tined garden fork or more effectively by machine. A mechanical aeration is obviously more effective in terms of time and effort especially when required over a larger area. The machine will puncture the turf surface using tines which can be of different types; fracture, core or hollow, slitter or spiker.

The best time to aerate a lawn is generally in September or October as the season begins to come to an end, the soil is still warm but more moist as the weather changes and traffic on the lawn reduces. Lawns can also be aerated in early spring. Localised manual aeration can be carried out at any time if deemed necessary eg local waterlogging, thinning due to heavy traffic, poor growth etc.

Aeration is also a prerequisite for the application of a top dressing and would also normally be carried out after a scarification.