Should I use hollow or solid-tines to aerate lawn?

By | 30/11/2012
Aeration hollow tine
Hollow and solid aeration tines

Hollow and solid aeration tines side by side

So you have decided that your lawn is compacted, and would like to treat it with an aeration treatment. But should you hollow-tine aerate, or solid-tine aerate? Firstly, I’ll just explain what each version of the treatment is. Then go on to explain the merits of each. Finally then look at which you should consider for your lawn.

What is solid-tine aeration?

Solid tine aeration involves driving solid metal spikes into the surface of your lawn, simply punching holes into it. These holes can be quite deep, up to six inches or sometimes more, and are the simplest way of helping to relieve minor compaction issues and helping to refresh a tired lawn.

I recommend that solid-tine aeration is only really suitable for lawns which have a low-level of compaction, that just need to be given a new lease of life from a temporary high level of use (such as a party or event) or higher-quality lawns that need a helping hand through a period of hot weather.

Solid-tine aerating does not actually remove any soil, so if you use this method of aerating of a highly compacted lawn, the holes will just naturally squeeze back together in a matter of days. This is one of the main disadvantages of solid-tine aerating.

Additionally, if the soil in your lawn is of a high-clay content, or particularly wet, then the action of the spikes entering and leaving the soil may “smear” the holes, sealing up the beneficial air and water channels to the roots, hampering the main benefits of the treatment.

Overall, solid-tine aeration is more of a general maintenance aeration treatment used on well established lawns. If you have a bad compaction problem, then hollow-tine aeration is recommended instead.

What is hollow-tine aeration?

Hollow tine aeration involves driving specially designed metal “tubes” into the surface of your lawn. This automatically extracts a core of turf and soil. These holes are generally not as deep as solid-tine aeration holes, usually about three inches or so.

The main benefit of physically removing a core of soil is that it creates extra space in the remaining soil. This allows the lawn to relax and for the pores in the soil to open.

The effect of hollow-tine aeration is much more long-lasting, as the holes can stay open for many weeks after the treatment, allowing the roots to really grow and flourish, allowing the lawn to thicken and improve tremendously.

Hollow-tine aeration is suitable for all lawns, and is especially effective on lawns which are more heavily compacted or suffer a lot of wear and tear.

The only problem with hollow-tine aeration is that it does produce waste cores all over your lawn. These need to be removed as they will clog your mower, bring weed seeds to the surface, and increase the level of thatch in your lawn. Removing these is time consuming, but well worth it. If you only have a small lawn these can be placed on a compost heap or added to your green waste, however for larger lawns this can be a considerable amount of soil so may need to be taken to the local tip. I can arrange for disposal for you, after treatment, if required.

Should I choose solid-tines or hollow-tines to aerate my lawn?

In summary, if you have a compacted lawn, or are in doubt at all, then choose hollow-tine aeration, however if you just wish to maintain your lawn to a decent standard, then solid-tine aeration should be sufficient.

If you would like to book an aeration treatment for your lawn. Would like your lawn measured for compaction, or would just like to discuss the treatment options. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kris Lord
Lawnscience (South Manchester) Ltd

14 thoughts on “Should I use hollow or solid-tines to aerate lawn?

  1. colin weeks

    The main isssue I have with my lawn is one of moss. The ground is more sandy than clay and there is a level of thatch. What do you recommend hollow tines or solid tines?

  2. Alfred Robinson

    My lawn is clay beneath and compacted. I have tried a hollow tining but the item just jams up with clay making it impossible to use. at 78 I’m not into heavy gardening. Help me.

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi Alfred,
      You should contact a local lawn care service to Aerate the lawn for your with a professional machine.
      Thanks for reading.
      Kris, Lawnscience

  3. John Ward

    I recently purchased a hollow tining fork and started on my lawn. The fork is producing only partial plugs of soil but holes about 10 cm deep in the lawn. Could this be that the lawn is too wet for hollow tining and is it worth continueing?

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi John,
      Difficult to answer that without seeing to be honest. If plugs are being pulled out then it is worth continuing. Sometimes the plugs will become compressed in the tool meaning they seem a lot smaller than the hole, but this is normal.
      If you can put a finger into one of the holes, then it’s probably worth continuing.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. kelvin pert

    Hi my soil is full of flints close to the surface of the lawn. will a hollow tine machine cope with this without serious damage to the spikes?

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi Kelvin, Difficult to answer this really. It depends. Most good quality commercial aeration machines are very tough and have hardened steel tines and can cope with hitting the odd stone. However, sustained resistance would be damaging. Try it out on a small area and see how you go.

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      You can hollow-tine at anytime, as long as the ground is not too wet, too dry or frozen. Ideally just before a feed is due, but that’s not essential. Thanks for reading!

  5. Adam

    After performing hole tine aeration on my lawn can I fill the holes in with sand?


    I would like a quote for hollow tining my lawn.


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