Core aeration, hollow tining the lawn
Core aeration (hollow tining) is a lawn
aeration technique that physically removes small cores or plugs from the lawn,
to create a healthier environment for grass growth.
Core aeration is also called hollow tine aeration. Small hollow metal tubes are
punched into the lawn surface with the cores being ejected from the soil onto the surface of the
Types of core aeration machinery
Core aeration or hollow tining can be undertaken with either a powered lawn / core aerator, a
tow-behind aerator or a simple hollow tine hand fork.
Powered core aerator - These machines are generally powered by a petrol
engine and are designed to cover large lawns in a short space of time. The tines can either
be mounted to a cylindrical frame, drum or spool which penetrate into the turf as the drum
rotates over the lawn.
Alternatively the tines may be mounted on legs that are attached to a cam type system. On
this type of core aerator the tines are punched vertically into the lawn to remove the core
or plugs. Punch action core aerators generally penetrate deeper into the soil than drum
The main disadvantage of these machines is the cost of purchase. In most cases it
is better to hire rather than purchase a powered core aerator, or use an alternative method
to aerate the lawn.
|The process of core aeration
involves the removal of small cores or plugs from the soil.
- Tow-behind core aerator - As the name suggest these core aerators or towed
behind a garden tractor or similar. The tines are fixed to a drum or spool, which penetrate
into the lawn, removing the cores as it travels over the lawn. Some models have a weight tray
to add extra weight to the machine to increase tine penetration.
Tow-behind aerators are great for large areas, and the cost of purchase is quite reasonable
making them an ideal alternative to powered core aerators. The main drawbacks are the tines
lack of penetration depth, and they are unsuitable for small, tight lawns.
- Hand core aerator fork - These simple tools are very popular for core
aeration, and are designed similar to a hand fork, but hollow tines replace the standard fork
tines. They are simply pushed into the soil to remove the cores.
These implements are ideal for smaller lawns where larger machinery is difficult to manoeuvre.
They are not really suitable for large lawns as they are very time consuming and they can be
very laborious. If used when the soil conditions are moist, full tine depth can be reached,
ensuring a very thorough job.
Why core aeration
There are numerous benefits that core aeration has over standard lawn
aeration such as spiking and slitting. As we have already stated core aeration (hollow tining)
removes cores, while other types of aeration just punch holes in the lawn. The major benefits of
removing cores are:
- Reduce the influence of thatch in the lawn - An excessive layer of
thatch in the lawn is one of the primary reasons for poor lawn
health and countless other common lawn care problems. Hollow tining or core aeration
physically removes the thatch from the lawn, resulting in a healthier lawn with fewer
- Incorporate a soil exchange program - Many lawns suffer from various
problems such as lack of drought resistance or poor drainage. It is possible that these
problems can be alleviated with core aeration. As core aeration leaves wide, deep holes in the
lawn, a suitable top dressing can be applied and worked down the core holes and into the soil.
If done on a regular basis the soil composition can be gradually changed to help rectify the
underlying problems with the soil.
- Relieve soil compaction - Although all types of aeration help relieve
soil compaction, core aeration is more beneficial than other
types of lawn aeration. This is because where the cores plugs have been removed the surrounding
soil is allowed to expand, thus being more effective at reducing soil compaction.
When & how to core aerate a lawn
Although core aeration can be carried out at almost any time during the year (ground conditions
permitting) the growing season is best time, late summer or early autumn being preferable. This is
because it compliments the autumn lawn care program, which also
includes overseeding and top
dressing. Both of these two tasks will benefit greatly from core aeration being carried out
prior to them.
However if you have a serious problem with excessive thatch build up, or need to change the
composition of the soil by applying top dressing, then core aeration can also be undertaken during
the spring or even at suitable times during the summer, again weather and ground condiotns
This task is best carried out when the lawn surface is dry. Prior to aerating, mow the lawn, as
this will help with core collection.