Aerating Your Lawn

Aerating is one of those things you’ve probably heard recommended for your lawn numerous times but which you have never actually bothered thinking about. However it’s actually key to a healthy lawn. It allows for healthy root growth for your lawn by breaking through the layer of dead grass and moss that covers the soil of most lawns, allowing air, water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the soil. You can learn more about soil health and the steps to take.

What is Aerating?

But what actually is aerating? Well, put as simply as possible, it is the act of punching lots of small holes in the soil throughout your lawn. Some gardeners use a gas-powered machine known as a “core aerator” to pull out small chunks of grass and soil across the lawn, others simply use a normal garden fork to punch holes into the grass, which many consider to be less effective, but still better than nothing. Some people swear by scarifiers and rakes, they wouldn’t use anything else. This is an essential part of garden care.

Either way, it not only helps aerate your roots but also provides a better habitat for the micro-organisms that typically live in your lawn and are hard at work breaking down the thatch layer of moss and dead grass that accrue on most lawns. And you only really need to do it once a year and it’ll help attract birds to the garden. Looser soil means worms can breed more easily and we all know the early bird gets the worm.

It also has the advantage of being far less of a chore than de-thatching. The only downside is that you can expect to find lots of little piles of soil across your garden, but these are easy enough to rake up if they bother you, while de-thatching can pretty much pulverise a lawn to the point where it needs some time to recover. The best time to do this is probably November after the last cut so it can have a chance to recover from the shock. Although there’s plenty to do in November already.

Why Aerate?

Your lawn’s soil can get compacted by the constant foot traffic or use of heavy equipment across it which can force the soil particles tightly together, forcing all the air out of your lawn. This results in areas where water can’t be absorbed and you’re likely to see puddles appearing and grass dying off. Water timers that set off sprinklers that setoff an automatic watering system for fifteen minutes at a time can combat this but it’s much better to just aerate. These are the spots that most need aerating, especially if the soil is heavy clay. If you’re walking over clay soil a lot, the lawn is going to be in dire need of aerating.

You Know You Should Aerate Your Lawn When

– There are worn areas appearing where people trek over the grass.
– Water puddles appear if the lawn has been irrigated.
– Minutes after watering the lawn the water begins to run off.
– Parts of the lawn seem dry and seem impossible to moisten, it might be that you need to lay turf again if you don’t act soon.

How to Aerate

To aerate properly you want to make sure the holes whether spiked or cored are spaced 3 to 4 inches apart across the lawn. Make sure the soil is lightly moist – not dry and crumbly or wet and muddy, and do two passes over the lawn in different directions. Each hole should be roughly 3 inches deep.

Do this once a year and you’ll have a garden that is clean, growing well and perfect for barbecues, letting your kids run around, or simply lounging about with a good book. The perfect way to enjoy summer.

Preparing the soil

4 Steps For Improving Your Soil

Mid-November means now’s the time to improve your soil, ready for planting or sowing. Digging the soil ensures it is fertile and enriched, improving the texture so plants can grow and thrive – and making it ready for planting your bulbs. Quite a few things need doing in November, take a look at this tips on November gardening resource.

Winter bulbs need good soil to give them the best conditions and the best chance of flourishing next Spring. By adding organic matter and digging the soil, the earth holds more nutrients to feed the plants and drainage is better also. Consider buying yourself a bulb planter, they really make light work of an arduous task and a decent garden fork. It’s the hardest job in the garden, why skimp?

Depending on the condition of your garden or planting area, there are around four simple steps you can take to improve your soil. You may need to weed the ground first, removing any old shrubs from the roots from the soil before you start the digging process, and it’s always advisable to warm up before you begin. Good exercise and a full compost bin, all for free from your very own back garden!

Gardening can be physically demanding, and soil improvement is an especially strenuous task. So make sure you do some stretches first, and pace yourself, aiming to dig your garden or outside space gradually to ensure you don’t injure yourself.

1. Get digging

You’re nicely warmed up and any weeding work has been completed, and it’s time to start digging! The aim is a crumbly textured soil and this requires thorough digging to break up any clods and loosen the earth. Use a rake to finish up; breaking clumps of dirt as fine as possible.

If the soil hasn’t been dug before, it’s a good idea to use a spade instead of a fork as a garden fork works best on ground that has been cultivated previously. There’s a whole host of garden digging tools for the job.

Key to this step: If you do spot any weeds, be sure to remove these.

2. Add compost

When the ground has been dug, add your organic matter to the soil. Cover the surface to a depth of at least 5cm before digging it in using your fork or spade.

The organic matter improves the structure of the soil by helping to break down any large clods or clumps and releasing tiny bursts of nutrients into the ground. It’ll leave the ground aerated and perfect for worms to further decompose nutrients.

You can use your own garden compost, made from kitchen and garden waste, or leaf mould that you bagged in November. If you collected fallen leaves from your garden and bagged it up, with a few holes for letting air in, last winter the mulch should be ripe for your soil this winter. Alternatively, you can use horse manure, but make sure it is mature manure – it needs at least six months time to rot down sufficiently. Or you could buy bags of composted bark from a garden centre. This is where a shredder really pays, assuming you have the wood available to chip up.

All these variants of compost are nutrient rich and boost the soil’s richness.

3. Dig again

Back to it: keep digging until the soil and organic matter are nicely mixed. This ensures the soil is broken up and the small amounts of released nutrients are evenly spread across the area. This time a handy tip would be to use a garden hoe. The brilliant thing about this process is the wildlife in your garden will really pickup. As the insects multiply, so it’ll bring the birds too.

4. Rake over

When you’ve mixed the organic matter into your soil, smooth the soil over and break up any remaining lumps in the soil. Then add the relevant amount of fertiliser on top and rake it in. This preparation is going to go along way toward helping with droughts next summer.

Make sure the improved soil has an even surface, perfect for adding your plants to.