How to Aerate the Lawn for Beginners - Squire's Garden Centres

How to Aerate the Lawn for Beginners

If you’re keen to improve your lawn and are discovering new ways of lawn care, such as scarifying, overseeding, and aeration you’re in the right place. In this guide we’re going to focus on the aeration front of lawn care, which is the process of adding many small holes to the lawn. It sounds harmful but let us assure you this contributes to lawn care in a few different ways, helping to maintain its overall health while growing thicker with that nice, lush green colour. Let’s find out how aeration benefits lawns and how you can do it on your own lawn.

Why Aerate the Lawn?

Lawns take a beating, whether it be baking in the blistering summer sun, or the frequent use during the summer, a pot or garden toy left on it here or there creating a patch… it goes through a lot! That means that to help it survive, and even thrive, it needs a bit of attention beyond mowing. That’s where aerating comes in.

By aerating the lawn among other tasks will help to keep it in great condition. Specifically, aerating the lawn helps to:

Loosen Compacted Soil

The soil under the lawn can become compacted over time, which makes it hard for roots to grow, and for air, water, and other nutrients to penetrate through to reach them. Aeration alleviates this compaction by creating channels through which these essential resources can penetrate, leading to healthier root systems. This ensures that grassroots receive the essential minerals they need for robust growth, resulting in a more vibrant and resilient lawn.

Enhances Root Development

The perforations created by aeration give roots the space they need to expand and grow stronger. Deeper, healthier roots help grass survive in the varying British weather conditions. Strong root systems are crucial for maintaining a resilient and vigorous lawn over the years.

Reduces Thatch Accumulation

Thatch, a layer of dead grass and organic matter, can build up on the soil surface, especially in damp British climates. Excessive thatch blocks water, nutrients, and air from reaching the soil. Aeration helps break up thatch, promoting its decomposition and reducing its detrimental effects on your lawn.

Prepares Lawn for Overseeding

For those looking to rejuvenate their lawns without returfing, aeration is a recommended preparatory step before overseeding. The holes created by aerating the lawn provide an ideal environment for seed-to-soil contact, which is crucial for successful germination. Overseeding after aeration helps fill in bare spots and promotes a thicker, more uniform lawn.

Enhances Oxygen Exchange

Grass requires oxygen to thrive. Aeration makes it easier for oxygen to reach the roots to grow healthily. Patches of lawn can literally be ‘choked’ if the soil underneath is too compacted.

Tools You’ll Need

To aerate the lawn, you’ll need an aerator of course! For home use these usually come in two main forms: spikes and prongs. The spike versions poke holes all around the lawn, some even attach to your shoes as you walk around. Whereas hollow prong types remove larger pieces – like a plug – from the ground when they are pressed in, creating more of an open hole, larger in comparison to spiking. The spike types will still aerate the lawn, but they do compact some of the soil around them to do so, whereas the hollow prong removes pieces of soil, meaning air, water and nutrients can penetrate down much more easily. Just something to keep in mind. Even a garden fork can be used in a pinch where necessary though it might take a bit more effort.

  • Lawn Aerator: solid spike or hollow prongs.
  • Lawn Mower: To prepare your lawn for aeration.
  • Garden Hose or Sprinkler: To water your lawn if needed.
  • Fertiliser or Lawn Feed: For post-aeration treatment.
  • Grass Seed (Optional): If overseeding is part of your plan.

Steps to Aerating Your Lawn

1. Mow the Lawn

Start by mowing your lawn to a shorter length than usual but don’t scalp it all the way down. This is essential as it makes it easier for the aerator to penetrate the soil.

2. Water the Lawn

If the soil is dry, water your lawn thoroughly a day before aeration. Moist soil is easier to work with but avoid overwatering as muddy conditions can make aeration more challenging not to mention just churning up your healthy grass!

3. Aerating Your Lawn

Push the tool into the soil to create the holes. Make sure to cover the entire lawn, spacing the holes about 3-4 inches apart.

4. Post-Aeration Care

If you used a hollow pronged aerator, you’ll have many soil plugs left over. While they will naturally decompose over time, you can rake them up if you prefer a cleaner look after aerating. If you have the space, or something like a wheelbarrow, you can break them down and use them to spread back over the lawn. You can also apply a lawn feed or fertiliser now to give your grass the nutrients it needs to recover and grow stronger. Be sure to water your lawn lightly after fertilising to help the nutrients soak into the soil and reach the grassroots

5. Overseeding (Optional)

If you want to thicken your lawn or fill in bare spots, overseed the lawn after aeration. Spread grass seed evenly over the lawn. Additionally, for better results lightly top-dress the lawn with a thin layer of soil to protect the seeds and improve seed-to-soil contact. Be sure to keep the soil consistently moist until the new grass has germinated and established. This is crucial for successful overseeding.

6. Ongoing Maintenance

Resume your regular mowing schedule, but avoid cutting the grass too short, which can stress the newly aerated and seeded lawn. Use the highest setting for a while. Continue to water your lawn regularly too, especially during dry spells which will help maintain the health and vigour of your grass.

When is the Best Time to Aerate the Lawn?

The best time to aerate the lawn is in spring as the grass is awakening and growing, and it can benefit from the aeration process as well as ‘heal’ the holes and openings created. This is also the best time to feed the lawn and overseed generally, or repair any patches, which we advise doing if already aerating anyway. Whenever you choose, it’s best to aerate your lawn after it has rained because it’s easier to poke holes into the damp soil.

Make Aerating the Lawn Part of Your Lawn Care

Aerating your lawn is a simple yet highly effective way to promote healthier, stronger grass. The benefits from reducing soil compaction and improving nutrient absorption to enhancing root development and boosting overall lawn health make it an essential task for achieving a lush, resilient lawn. Have a go at aerating your lawn amongst the regular lawn care routine and enjoy the rewards of a greener and thicker looking lawn to enjoy.


You are now leaving Squire’s and visiting our careers website, to view and apply for our latest jobs.