How to aerate a small lawn by hand

Written by truell bliss
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How to aerate a small lawn by hand
An aerated lawn produces healthier grass. (valio84sl/iStock/Getty Images)

Lawn grass needs plenty of water and oxygen to thrive -- aerating your lawn creates small, vertical "tunnels" that permit the nutrients necessary for healthy grass to soak deeper into the soil. The holes you make in the lawn with an aerator fill in after several days, and the vitality of the soil under the lawn remains improved. You don't need to buy or hire expensive gardening equipment to aerate a small lawn when you can do the job yourself with a few basic tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Work gloves
  • Thatch rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Manual aerator

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  1. 1

    Rake your lawn with a thatching rake. Begin raking from a point farthest away from the house. Make sweeping strokes with the rake toward the house, and work from either left to right or right to left. Rake the thatch into piles approximately 60 cm (2 feet) in diameter, so you can pick them up easily. Removing thatch separates the old, brown grass from the new, green grass, and allows for easy penetration of aerator blades.

  2. 2

    Water your lawn thoroughly the night before you aerate. Be careful not to overwater; stop watering as soon as puddles begin to form on the surface of the soil. The core blades of the aerator penetrate the earth more easily in damp soil.

  3. 3

    Aerate your lawn with a manual aerator. This tool, as long as a spading fork, has three hollow-cored tubes attached to the bottom of a "stirrup." Start aerating where you began raking thatch, and progress in the same manner. Place one foot in the stirrup of the aerator, and using your body weight with one hand on the handle of the tool, press the blades all the way into the earth. Manipulate the tool in a rocking motion a few times, front to back, and then pull it from the ground. Leave a space of 30 cm (12 inches) between each insertion of the aerator, and continue in the same way to aerate the entire lawn.

  4. 4

    Resist the temptation to gather up the soil cores the aerator leaves on the lawn. The cores break down after a few days as a result of watering and surface traffic, and provides additional organic material for your lawn.

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