Aerating Lawns: Cheap Lawn Aeration: Make a Lawn Aerator

Tips for Aerating Lawns

No doubt you have read from time to time, that lawns require spiking or aerating, both to let air into the soil where it gets a lot of traffic and to improve drainage. Today there are a number of special hollow-tined forks and similar devices for this job. Even so this can be a very arduous task where the lawn is of any size.

lawn aerator

In this case, a special spiked roller for lawn aeration is an easier tool to use, but as these are used only once a year few people will want to go to the expense of buying one.

Make Your Own Lawn Aerator

It is, however, perfectly possible to make a very effective spiked roller at little cost which will last a lifetime of lawn aerating. The cylinder of the roller is made from an ordinary five gallon oil drum, and spikes from ordinary pipe holdfasts. These are tapered spikes approximately 3 inches long, with a semi-circular loop at the other end which when knocked into a wall holds the pipe.

The thickness of the oil drum is immaterial as in time it will rust away, but it is important that the drum should be free from dents. It is essential that there should be an opening at one end big enough for the hand to be inserted, but failing this, the end of the drum can either be removed by melting the solder or cutting a hole. A large hole may be made by drilling a number of small holes in a large circle then knocking through the small separating pieces with a cold chisel.

To accommodate the axle of the roller a hole should be made exactly in the centre of each end of the drum, the size of the hole depending on the diameter of the pipe available. l found that a 1 inch pipe is sufficient and an iron bar can  be pushed through the pipe as the axle proper. This leaves scope for plenty of ingenuity in attaching a handle. I adapted the handle of an old mowing machine but that of a pram or push chair will work quite well.

If no fixed handles are available it is perfectly possible to pull the spiked roller with a rope, but in this case a spacing bar must be used to stop the rope chafing on the edges of the roller as the ends of the rope will be attached to the axis. The holdfasts can be purchased from any ironmongers shop and the spikes of these should be about 3 to 3 1/2 inches long and the number required will depend on the circumference of the cylinder.

The spikes should be arranged in rows and spaced alternately about 4 inches apart in the rows and about 5 inches between the rows which will simulate forking. The position of the holes is best marked out first with chalk on the outside of the drum. When the positions of the holes have been determined, make the holes themselves by using one of the holdfasts as a punch and driving the spike right through to its widest point. Do this, of course, from the outside.

It will be found that the spike of the holdfast is broader than it is thick. Therefore make the holes, which will be rectangular in shape, so that the longest side is parallel with the end of the drum. This may sound fairly complicated but in practice is perfectly simple.  When all the holes have been made, stand the cylinder on its end on two bricks or a soft surface to allow the end of the pipe which carries the axle to protrude about 2 inches. Then insert the holdfasts from the inside of the drum. Tap them gently through until the curved part which normally holds the pipe is up against the inside of the drum.

Then mix a sufficient amount of sand and cement to fill the drum, using one part cement to one part sand to three parts fine granite chippings or clean gravel. Make this rather on the moist side and fill in and tamp down gently with a cane or stick to make sure that the cement mixture is pressed in between the loop of the holdfast and the inside  of the drum. Complete the filling and leave standing on end until the cement is set hard. In a few years the metal cylinder or drum is bound to rust away but by this time the cement will be rock hard and it is more of an advantage than otherwise.

For a smaller lawn, of course, a smaller cylinder can be made and very often the handles can be taken off the lawn mower and temporarily attached to the roller.  When not in use stand the lawn aeration roller on its end for if it is left on the grass the buried spikes will rust more quickly.  Try not to drag the spiked roller over a stone or tarmac path as this will not only chip up the surface but blunt the spikes.

Remember, aerating lawns can be expensive and is very time consuming, but a lawn aerator made cheaply like this halves the problem. Aerating your lawn is well worth the time and effort you can devote to it.

Lawn Aerating Shoes

A really cheap lawn aeration method is to buy the strap on shoe bases that basically have spikes pointing down into the ground.  Whilst this is a pretty time consuming method and it obviously helps if the ground is a little softer when you use the shoes, it is a very cheap alternative to hiring a lawn aerator.

lawn aerating shoes

26. July 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Lawncare, Lawns | Tags: , | Leave a comment


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