When curating a lawn it’s important to ensure that the soil is properly aerated to allow air and water to percolate through the root systems of the grass. Aeration encourages microfauna and flora that are essential for a healthy lawn system and allow the soil to ‘breathe’, reducing uneven turf growth and producing more resilient growth. Lawns will also generate a layer of thatch, organic debris which prevents oxygen and nutrient flow through the lawn. Aerators are available with core/plug tines or spikes, and punch holes in the soil to aid in air flow. Scarifiers remove moss and thatch from the lawn’s surface and make it easy to remove with a lawn sweeper. Often the best lawns will require both aerators and scarifiers to maintain their lush green appearance.
Choosing an Aerator
When choosing an aerator, consider the size and condition of your lawn, your own physical ability, the amount of traffic over the lawn and the type of soil and turf present. Smaller lawns may require simpler methods of aeration and less advanced machines such as aeration shoes, hand held aerators and even simple garden forks, although these methods are inefficient and only recommended when budgets are tight. On light clay soils and sandy soils aeration a standard spike aerator is more efficient as the lighter soil will settle more quickly after penetration. Heavier clays and denser soil will require use of a hollow tine aerator as it causes less overall disruption while still disturbing the soil. For larger gardens or lawns with tough, dry soil, the superior weight and power of a mechanical aerator attachment or even a dedicated aeration machine is generally necessary to ensure the soil is properly aerated within a reasonable amount of time. Aeration rollers can be bought as accessories for garden tractors or powered lawn mowers and are generally reliable on larger or medium-sized lawns. If working on a lawn larger than a tennis court, a dedicated petrol aerator is recommended. Hollow tine aerators, on the other hand require significantly greater effort to use, and it’s preferable to hire a petrol powered drum aerator for large gardens on heavy, dense soils.
Choosing a Scarifier.
Size of garden is also a consideration when choosing a scarifier, particularly in the choice between petrol and electric machines. Scarifiers also help to aerate the soil, making them a slightly less effective but potentially more efficient alternative to aerators. For smaller gardens, an electric scarifier can be just as effective as an aerator and make it easy to clear moss and thatch from your lawn. Electric scarifiers and lawn rakes are also more economical in terms of both initial costs and fuel costs.
For larger lawns, consider a petrol scarifier for the freedom from fragile, fiddly cables and increased endurance. Petrol aerators are also useful for more uneven lawns or lawns that are severely overthatched as they provide more power to work on heavier workloads. Some petrol machines also come with adjustable rear decks in order to provide more precise scarification. This is particularly useful for fine or ornamental lawns as a petrol scarifier can reduce excessive damage to the lawn’s surface. Scarifiers are best used in the winter, and petrol scarifiers are slightly more resilient and reliable in cold temperatures, as well as providing the necessary power and weight to deal with frozen ground. A final consideration is cost- it is often not worth it to buy a petrol scarifier if your use will be limited as they can be quite expensive. Hiring is often a better bet than buying unless one is committed to serious lawncare. Also consider buying scarifier attachments for regular lawnmowers and garden tractors.