When to Aerate Your Lawn

When to Aerate Your Lawn

We’re going to talk about something this week that has no doubt been burning at the forefront of your mind: aeration. Yes, this topic is one that piques the curiosity of homeowners who desire a healthy, green lawn everywhere. You may be well versed when it comes to mowing, watering, or even fertilizing, but aeration remains a mystery to many, many people. Let’s pull back the veil to discover how aeration can improve the look and health of your lawn, how to do it, and when the most beneficial time to do it is!

Aeration Explained

Aeration is a process where the soil is perforated with small holes in order to allow air, nutrients, and water to penetrate the root system of your lawn. This benefits the roots, allowing them to grow more deeply. In the end, you’ll have a vigorous and strong lawn!

One of the main reasons you want to consider aeration is to help combat soil compaction. If the soil is too compacted, meaning it has too many solid particles throughout taking up space, then there can’t be proper circulation of water, air, and nutrients in the soil. It basically helps the root system to get the elements it needs to stay healthy.

Do You Really Need to Aerate Your Lawn?

A very common question we get here at Lawn Love is if aeration really needs to be done for every lawn or not. How exactly do you determine if your lawn needs aerating? Well, there are a few telltale signs that indicate your lawn needs aerating, such as:

  • Heavy use – Lawns that have a lot of traffic running through them due to children or pets probably have soil compaction that should be addressed with aeration.
  • Newly constructed home – If you’re got a new home, then the topsoil may have been buried or stripped and the subsoil compacted by construction.
  • It feels spongy – Lawns that have a spongy, bouncy feel to them or that dry out easily need aeration. This might be an indication that you have a problem with thatch. If you have more than a half inch of thatch, you need to aerate.

When You Should Aerate

This is a very easy question to answer. You’ll see the most benefit from aeration during the growing season when grass can fill any spaces made by removing soil plugs. In an ideal world, cool season grass should be aerated in the spring or fall, while warm season grass should be aerated in late spring. Easy!

How to Aerate

To aerate properly, you need the right tools. There are two main tools you can use to aerate: A plug aerator or a spike aerator.

Plug aerators remove plugs of soil about two to three inches deep from your lawn. These are the best way to aerate your lawn since they actually remove the soil instead of just poking a hole in it. You can rent these machines from local home improvement stores or hire someone to do it for you!

Spike aerators are like little pitchforks that poke holes into the soil. Not the ideal way to aerate, as it requires a ton of elbow grease on your end and isn’t as effective, but it’s better than nothing!

Once you’ve secured the proper equipment, you should go ahead and get it done. Don’t be intimidated! It’s easy to do if you follow these tips:

  • Make sure the soil is moist – Aerating bone dry soil is pretty frustrating, so aim for a day after there’s been rain or after you’ve watered your lawn.
  • Make multiple passes – Even if you rent a machine to do the work for you, one pass won’t cut it (or aerate it). Go over the most compacted areas the most.
  • Leave the plugs – If you’re pulling up plugs of soil, leave them to dry. Then, break them up by going over them with a lawnmower or rake.
  • Keep on going – Aerating your lawn is only one step in your lawn care process. Continue on with the regular upkeep you do in terms of mowing, watering, and feeding your lawn.

That about sums it up! Now you’re ready to go forward and aerate your lawn with confidence!

Sara Butler

Sara Butler has written scores of articles for Lawn Love -- everything from how to revive your dead lawn to how to start to lawn care tools every homeowner should have.