Garden & Outdoor

How to Aerate a Lawn

With our guide, you will know how to aerate a lawn like this person

Lawns growing in clay soil, or those that get heavy use, need a bit of breathing space sometimes. Aerating a lawn means punching a lot of small holes in it – to allow air, water and nutrients to get in. It improves drainage and makes the soil less compact so the grass can stretch its roots. To help you out, we have put together this handy how-to guide to take you through the aeration process step-by-step with either a garden fork or lawn aerator machine, so you can learn how to aerate a lawn.

Before you begin, it’s important to keep yourself and others safe. Always make sure you follow the instructions on your materials and tools, and wear the appropriate safety gear.  

Let’s start with what you’ll need.  


When to start 

Spring and autumn is when growth is slower but the grass will still heal. The soil needs to be soft enough to penetrate, so the day after it has rained or you have watered your lawn should do nicely. 

  1. Making holes

    There are a number of easy ways to do this, here’s what we suggest:  

    Garden fork – perfect for small areas. Just sink the fork into the lawn halfway up the prongs every 20 -30cm across the area of the lawn. You can put a few more holes in damp areas or where the grass is struggling.  

    Manual lawn aerator – a push-along roller covered in spikes. One of these will do the job nicely on medium lawns. 

    Electric lawn aerator – you can hire one of these to breeze over large lawns. They pull out narrow ‘plugs’ of soil rather than just punching holes. These should be allowed to dry out on the surface before breaking them up and spreading them evenly- easily done by running a lawnmower over them. Some machines also scarify and pull out the dead thatch, meaning you’re doing three essential lawn jobs all at once. 

  2. Filling holes

    Don’t worry, you’re not undoing all that hard work – a thin layer of sharp sand swept into the holes with a stiff broom will create drainage channels in dense soil that will keep it healthy. If you feel like your lawn could do with an extra boost, you can brush compost over it after aerating. 

    Your lawn might be looking a bit shabby after all the poking and brushing but relax, give it a couple of weeks and you’ll see it was all worth it.  

    If that wasn’t enough lawn-love for you, we can tell you how to remove weeds and moss in your lawn here 

    And that’s how to aerate a lawn. 



Writer and expert