When to Aerate a Lawn: Best Time to Hollow Tine a Lawn in UK

By   | Last Updated :   December 29, 2022 | Filed In :   DIY & How To

Sometimes, all your lawn needs is a breather. Aeration gives it just that. It allows the grass easy access to oxygen, water and nutrients, while also reducing soil compaction and improving drainage.

But as with most things, there’s a right time to begin lawn aeration. So, when’s that for UK gardeners?

The best time to hollow tine UK lawn is in spring and autumn. The grass is growing vigorously and can handle a bit of aeration stress. Plus, the soil is moist and easy to work with. For the best results, aerate warm-season turf in spring and cold-season turf in autumn.

how to aerate a lawn

Image credit: @fourseasons.permagreen

Why aerate a lawn?

Aerating your lawn can boost all your other lawn care efforts. This way, when you so much as water or feed your lawn, the nutrients penetrate deep into the soil.

Aeration also reduces soil compaction, which may otherwise lead to unsightly bumps. Plus, it loosens the soil, improves drainage and keeps weeds and moss at bay.

In short, aeration is the key to a healthy, lush and thriving lawn. It does involve some work, granted. But it’s well worth it.

When is the best time to aerate the lawn?

The best time of the year to aerate lawn is in spring and autumn. That’s when the grass is growing vigorously and can quickly recover from the stress of aeration.

So, should you aerate in spring, or is autumn a better time? If you’re wondering when should lawns be aerated, it depends on the type of turf grass you have.

For warm-season turf, like buffalo and Bermuda, aerate your lawn in spring. For cool-season turf, like bluegrass and fescue, autumn aeration is ideal.

Now, a word on when to spike a lawn in spring and autumn.

When to aerate in spring

In spring, you can aerate your lawn between March and May. Spring aeration will give your lawn a little boost and help it green up faster. You can use a chisel tine aerator since springtime doesn’t usually bring with it that much compaction.

Should you aerate your lawn in March? You can aerate your lawn as early as March, but it depends on the weather. If the ground is still hard after winter, wait until April.

When to aerate in autumn

In autumn, late September and November are ideal for hollow tine aeration. Autumn aeration will strengthen the root system while also providing an excellent bed for overseeding.

In autumn, use a hollow tine aerator. It’s more invasive but necessary to aerate your lawn after a whole year’s stress.

hollow tine aerator

Image credit: @bobbysbarrow

Is there a bad time to aerate your lawn?

Avoid aerating your lawn in winter or during the peak of summer. Hot weather and dry soil can make it difficult to remove soil plugs. Similarly, hard and frozen soil is nearly impossible to penetrate.

What’s more, your lawn is going into dormancy during these times. Aeration could end up harming the grass instead of helping it grow.

How often should you aerate your lawn?

Aerate your lawn once annually in springtime or autumn, take your pick. Aerating just once a year is enough to keep your lawn lush and healthy.

But how often to aerate a lawn if you have clay soil with heavy foot traffic? If that’s the case, you can consider aerating twice a year.

On the other hand, if your lawn has sandy soil with little to no foot traffic, aerating every two years is best.

How to aerate a lawn

Aerating your lawn might sound like work. But it’s just an afternoon project once you’ve mowed and watered your lawn.

Step 1 – Mow your lawn and remove debris

Before you aerate, evenly mow your lawn. Mowing will allow the aerator to easily reach the ground. Keep the blades 1 to 2 inches above the ground so you don’t scalp the grass entirely.

Remove the grass clippings. Also, rake any debris like fallen leaves and sticks. This will ensure that nothing obstructs the path of the aerator.

lawn mower on a stripped lawn

Image credit: @cgs_clive

Step 2 – Water your lawn

Water your lawn a few days before aerating. Moist and soft soil is easy to work with. Your hollow tine aerator will easily pull out plugs of soil.

Step 3 – Start aerating

Whether you’re using a manual hollow tine aerator or an electric one, the process will be similar. Use the aeration tool or machine to plug out soil from the ground.

Go from side to side to ensure you get plenty of holes. Target compaction-prone areas, especially those with heavy foot traffic.

Once you’re done, don’t worry about the soil plugs left on your lawn. They will break up on their own. You can then rake them into your lawn for a natural, easy top dressing.

aeration machine

Image credit: @sandersongroundcare

The wrap-up

Over time your lawn can succumb to foot traffic, heavy machinery and even the whims of the weather. This can result in soil compaction, poor drainage and eventually, a sad-looking lawn.

That’s when aeration comes into the picture. It will loosen the soil and help your lawn thrive. Remember that the right timing is everything.

So, as a recap, what’s the best month to aerate lawn?

In spring, aerate your lawn between March and May. In autumn, aerate between September and November.

There you have it. Now, with the best time of year to aerate the lawn in mind, go and do your lawn a favour. Or mark your next lawn aeration day in your gardening calendar. When it comes to aeration, timing matters!

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