The Ultimate Guide to Aeration

An aerator is an indispensable tool to help break up surface compaction and aid drainage.

Surface compaction is a common issue in ground with a high clay content, or in areas with foot traffic and vehicle use, such as in front of a shed or on a sports field.

However, depending on the weather and condition of your lawn, aeration can have little effect or even make it worse.

If there is frost (or god forbid, snow), don’t let your aerator out of the shed.

Aeration is best done during the growing periods, as the grass has time to recover. Spring and Autumn are the most common seasons for this.

The main reason for aerating is to allow the surface to breathe, as compacted soil prevents the circulation of air, water and nutrients within the soil.

Reducing surface compaction also helps the soil absorb and drain water, which is essential for many sports fields.

With the help of an aerator, roots will grow deeper to produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.

There are a variety of lawn care machines that are often confused with aerators, but perform very different tasks.

SCH Grass Care System 48 inch Pictured: SCH 48" Heavy Duty Grass Care System


Knowing the difference between these methods and machines is essential when deciding whether an aerator is right for your grass.

The most common type of 'aeration’ is spiking. This is most efficiently performed with a heavy sorrel roller.

SCH 3SSR36 36 inch Mounted Sorrel Roller Pictured: SCH 3SSR36 36" Mounted Sorrel Roller


These rollers pierce the ground thousands of times per minute to allow water, nutrience and air into the soil. The rollers also leave attractive stripes on the grass.

Spiking, however, does not alleviate surface compaction, and the soil around the spike can suffer from compaction even more so. Spiking should be used as a complementary process alongside an aerator.

Manual and towed sorrel rollers are readily available, however most groundsmen prefer the ease of use of a 3-point linkage version.

A slitter is a common machine that can be used much more regularly than a professional aerator.

SCH DSM2 Mounted Slitter with Replaceable Tines Attachment for 60 inch D System Pictured: SCH DSM2 Mounted Slitter with Replaceable Tines Attachment


It is very similar in function to spiking, however it has the added benefit of slicing through roots.

This may sound counter productive, however the minor trauma encourages the roots to grow back deeper and thicker.

A hollow tine corer is normally used by professionals on fine lawns such as tennis, bowls or golf greens.

SCH HT48 48 inch Hollow Tine Corer Attachment Pictured: SCH HT48 48" Hollow Tine Corer Attachment Close Up


The hollow, specially shaped tines plunge into the grass to remove a ’plug’ of soil and turf.

Removing cores from turfed areas allows air and water to have direct access to the root system more effectively than just slitting.

A neat round hole is left to allow top dressing and fertiliser to easily reach the roots where they are most needed.

SCH HT48 48 inch Hollow Tine Corer Attachment Pictured: SCH HT48 48" Hollow Tine Corer Attachment at Work


This method yields significantly improved results compared to machines that simply plunge a solid steel spike into the ground.

Whilst very useful under some circumstances, the use of a solid spike compresses the soil around it, making it harder for nutrients to penetrate into the surrounding soil.

Finally, we get to the professional aerator.

The long, specially shaped tines are significantly thicker than a slitter. This is because they need to withstand the forces of breaking up the surface.

The aerators long tines push easily into the ground, then pull at the surface on the way out.

SCH DAM Mounted Aerator Attachment for 60 inch D System Pictured: SCH DAM Mounted Aerator Attachment for 60" D System


This action creates many small fractures deep within the soil surface, freeing the soil and significantly reducing compaction.

This is very different to the slitter, which slides in and out of the ground with ease.

The deterioration of pitch quality results in muddy pitches over the rainy seasons, and forces many clubs to postpone, cancel, and reduce the number of games played.

The regular use of lawn care equipment creates thick and resilient grass, keeping mud at bay, and keeping revenue coming into clubs.

We offer a variety of lawn care systems that can perform all of the above functions and more in one cost-effective machine. These systems are manufactured in Britain and come in 4 different widths.

The 36” Budget Lawn Care System is best suited for gardens and those who need an inexpensive solution, the 40” System and 48” System are ideal for estates and small-medium sized sports fields. Finally the 60” Deep Turf Care System with its three-point linkage is suitable for venues with a compact tractor with a 3-point linkage.

To view all of the above turf care machines and many more, click here.

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Written by Zaros Machinery

Experts in Garden Machinery for the British Climate.