What is the difference between Hollow Tine Aeration & Spiking?

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What is the difference between Hollow Tine Aeration & Spiking?

What is the difference between Hollow Tine Aeration & Spiking?

Hollow Tine Aeration and Spiking sit under the umbrella of aerating, an essential process for all lawns, especially those suffering from compaction. But what is aeration and what’s the difference between Hollow Tine Aeration and Spiking?


Aeration is an essential treatment for lawns for air exchange and water penetration. There are several methods of aeration, but the two main types we recommend for domestic lawns are Hollow Tine Aeration and Spiking, or Solid Tine Aeration. Not only does aerating allow essential air exchange and water back into the soil, but it can help drainage, alleviate compaction and revive the soil ecosystem which in turn will help the long-term health of your lawn.

When to aerate?

The best time of the year to aerate is during the growing seasons, spring and autumn, when the soil is moist, making it easier to aerate but also giving the lawn recovery time before the extreme seasons arrive. But what is Hollow Tine Aeration and Spiking? And why are they so important for lawn care?

Firstly, let’s look at the problem of compaction…


A nemesis of lawn care, compaction can cause a multitude of problems under the surface, so no matter how much fertiliser, seaweed extract or seed you throw at your lawn (we don’t recommend throwing any of them), you could be faced with drainage problems, drought, disease and weeds.

Compaction is one of the main reasons for needing to aerate your lawn. Your soil should ideally be 50% solids, 25% water and 25% air, but over time the soil becomes compacted from use, whether that’s from regular mowing and heavy football playing or those popular garden parties of yours!

This means the soil is being constantly squashed and the air is being squeezed out, leaving little room for roots to grow, nutrients to get in and an overall lack of oxygen in the soil – which is vital for plant health and growth.

Compaction can then lead to poor drainage, which over the winter means waterlogged lawns and prolonged wetness that can encourage disease and weeds. Whilst in the summer months you’ll see drought and extensive dryness because water is unable to penetrate deeply into the soil.

This is when we look to aeration to solve our compaction problems… But which one to choose and what’s the difference between Hollow Tine Aeration and Spiking?



An unsung hero of lawn care, Hollow Tine Aeration can be vital for the health of your lawn, especially if compaction is inhibiting growth and drainage, but what is it?

Simply, Hollow Tine Aeration removes small plugs of earth from the surface of your lawn so the soil can breathe again.  

Hollow Tine Aeration is recommended for heavy clay lawns which are prone to heavy compaction. A Hollow Tining breaks up the soil, freeing compaction on the surface as well as removing plugs of earth. By removing earth from the lawn, you allow the subsoil to decompress and spread out into these newly created spaces, allowing essential air exchange and water back into the soil – in other words, your soil can breathe again.

What happens when we Hollow Tine Aerate?

We use a mechanical hollow tine aerator that removes 2” deep and ½” wide plugs at approximately 45 plugs per square metre. The aim is to remove around 5% of the surface soil.



Spiking, or Solid Tine Aeration, on the other hand, is a less intensive type of aeration, and can be carried out regularly with a garden fork to break up the soil and allow water to drain. However, this method of aerating is preferred for sandy soils which are naturally loose, and light clay lawns that aren’t affected by heavy compaction.

Spiking punctures holes into the soil using solid tines, like those on a garden fork,  allowing air and nutrients in and helping drainage, but as you can imagine, because spiking doesn’t remove any earth, it doesn’t alleviate compaction because it makes space rather creating space for the soil to spread into.

What happens when we spike?

We use a solid tine aerator, like a garden fork with a motor. We wheel this across the lawn allowing the tines, or spikes, to break through the surface of the lawn, making 3-inch holes.

So, if you think you need aeration or would like to find out more about our services, book a FREE no obligation Lawn Analysis today and we’ll be in touch shortly.