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« Beware Leatherjacket Larvae could be cutting your lawn before you do! | Main | Looking after a London, City or Town Lawn »

Fork over your lawn and let some air at the roots

VertidrainThis photograph shows a rather heavy duty verti drain machine on a golf course. The concept of the action is to punch solid hardened steel tines into the soil to a depth from anything between 15-40cm.

When the tines hit maximum depth, they are designed to waggle and open up the compacted soil at the tip of the tine. The result is de compaction of the panned layer around and beneath the root zone.

Whilst the process is neither the only operation that is carried out on a grass surface nor is it a magical correction for any turf problems, it should be administered regularly, as conditions allow throughout the season.

Not all lawn owners can afford to get in a contractor to aerate the lawn and in many cases, access itself is too restrictive to get a bulky professional machine into the garden.

The humble garden fork is maybe the only form of aeration that is available to you. Never the less, if you have the patience and the time and the lawn is not too large it is still as valid as using something with an engine attached to it.

The process is very simply. With a robust garden fork, push the tines as deep as they will go, using your foot if necessary to gain extra depth, on a vertical plane.

When you are satisfied that the tines will go no deeper, waggle the handle of the fork back and forth a couple of times. The points of the fork will then have travelled a few cm's in each direction on a horizontal plane thus opening up some air spaces in the process.

As the fork is now removed, you will also have formed vertical shafts left by the penetrating and exiting tines which will allow fresh air into the spaces and foul soil air out or add to the soil draining properties.

Your task is now to work at the furthest point from a path or patio, in lines going backwards so that you do not stand on the freshly aerated sward.

If the tines of the fork lift up the surface to much as you pull them out then gently firm with the ball of your foot, ensuring that the action and momentum is not too robust so that the good work is not undone.

Now just stay off the lawn for a few days so that this spiking maintenance can have the best chance of benefiting the roots.

For a great explanation of aeration, with video too, then click on the Charterhouse website.

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