A lawn aerator is a garden tool or machine designed to creat holes in the
soil in which lawn grasses grow. In compacted lawns, aeration improves soil
drainage and encourages worms, microfauna and microflora which
Lawn problems[Back to Contents]
Lawn aeration constitutes two things: controlling lawn thatch and reducing soil compaction. Lawn thatch is a layer of dead organic tissue that can protect the lawn by moderating temperature and reducing evapotranspiration when it is a reasonable thickness, but too much thatch can limit soil oxygenation and reduce watering effectiveness.. Soil compaction makes it difficult for grass to develop long roots and disturbs both natural rainwater and artificial irrigation.
It is purported that scientific evidence exists that aeration makes a measurable difference in the long-term health or quality of a lawn..
Types of aerators[Back to Contents]
There are two types of lawn aerators. Spike aerators use wedge shaped solid spikes to punch holes in the soil, and core aerators have hollow tines that pull out plugs (or "cores") from soil.
A spike aerator creates holes in the ground by pushing the soil sideways as wedge-shaped spikes penetrate the soil. Since there is no soil removed from the ground, watering will cause the compacted soil around the holes to expand and close. A core/plug aerator removes soil from the ground and leaves the core on the turf. This reduces compaction in the soil, and the holes can stay open for a long time allowing air, fertilisers, and water to reach the roots. Core aeration is suitable for heavy clay soils, and spike aeration is more suited to sandy or loamy soils.
Powered aerators employ the power from a gasoline engine to drive multiple tines into ground. The machines can aerate a large lawn in a relatively short time (similar to mowing speed).
Manual aerators usually have two to five hollow tines mounted on a step bar.
The operator puts one foot on the step bar and push it downward, forcing the
tines to penetrate into the soil. Then he pulls the handle on the step bar
upward to remove the soil cores out of the ground. By repeating the same
operation, the cores left in the tines will be pushed out by the next ones.
Manual aerators are much cheaper than powered ones. The trade-off is the speed.
For a typical residential lawn (1/4 acre lot), it will take hours to finish.
Some products also have issues with the tines becoming clogged with soil, which
can slow down the operation even more. However, a well-made manual aerator
offers advantages such as ease of use, selective aeration, and economy.