When your lawn becomes compacted, plants and grass can't grow to their full potential because of a lack of air and moisture to roots. Using aeration tools involves punching holes in the yard to loosen it, allowing much-needed air and moisture to reach the roots of growing grass plants. Aeration can be accomplished in several effective ways, depending on your lawn's condition and your goals.
Aeration sandals are a handy way to aerate without bulky equipment. The sandals strap onto your shoes or boots and turn your stroll across the yard into an aerating session. Spikes protrude from the bottom of the sandals. As you walk, holes get punched into the soil, loosening it and creating avenues for air and moisture to penetrate otherwise hard, dense soil. Aeration sandals are good for small patches of grass and soil but inefficient for large lawns.
One of the most common types of aerators is a simple rolling aerator with sharp tines mounted around a rolling cylinder. The rolling aerator is pushed manually, much like a lawnmower, as the tines punch holes in the ground. Inexpensive and easy-to-use, rolling aerators are effective on moderately compacted soils on home lawns. Harder soils require loosening before the tines will penetrate the soil, especially in hard clays. Moistening the ground can help, but too much water makes for a muddy mess.
The core aerator is among the most effective aerators. As it rolls along and punches holes in the yard, its round cutting spikes work like tiny post hole diggers to remove a plug or core from the soil and drop it on the surface. Core aerators allow more air and moisture to access the soil than simple tine devices. At the end of the process, the cores can be left alone to dry and break down naturally on the ground. They can also be dragged with a yard box or roller to break them up more quickly, or they can be raked and saved as topsoil dressing for a later date. These gas-powered devices can be rented at home equipment rental centers and large home centers.
Vibrating Power Aerator
A vibrating power aerator provides excellent aeration by punching holes in the soil with tines and vibrating back and forth to break up the ground around the tines as it moves. This breaks up soil, but keeps it underground. While some soils are so hard and compacted that the ground must be loosened before using an aerator, the vibrating action of this device loosens the soil as you go. This type of aerator is effective but expensive to buy and costly to power.