Soil Compaction and how to fix it

Compacted soil leaves less space for the soil to hold the water and air it needs for optimum health. It will make it harder to roots to penetrate and for nutrients and fertilisers to be absorbed and do the job they are designed to do.

If your soil has a high proportion of clay or your lawn is subjected to a lot of traffic then it you are more likely to have soil compaction occur. To determine if your soil is compacted or not, simply push in a garden fork – if you struggle to get the fork in at least halfway up the tines then you have a soil compaction problem. The issue needs to be dealt with as soon as possible to stop the lawn from growing along the top of the soil which can lead to thatching.


Treating soil compaction is as easy as aerating the soil. Aerating adds bubbles into the soil, space for air and water. The spaces made will allow oxygen, water and nutrients to get to where they need to be. Before aerating, water your lawn thoroughly – it will make the process a lot easier and much more effective.

Smaller areas

Smaller areas of compacted soil can be treated manually with aerating sandals or a strong garden fork. If using a garden fork – insert the fork and punch holes in – aims for a spacing of 8-10cms between holes.

Larger areas

For larger areas, Harden Park Lawns recommends hiring a petrol-powered core aerator. The hire company will get you instructions on how to use it but remember to always follow safe operating procedures. With a core aerator you will end up with small cores left on the lawn which can either be raked up and added to the compost bin, or you can just leave them and they will break down over the next fortnight to one month.

Aeration of normal traffic lawns is recommended annually and more frequently for high traffic areas. Aerating frequently on slopes can be beneficial in allowing water to be absorbed better.

Harden Park Lawns top tips – add fertiliser after aerating to add the nutrients the compacted soil has been lacking and don’t aerate a lawn within the first 12 months of it being laid.

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