Why, How and When to Aerate Your Lawn

how to aerate your lawn

Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil

aerate the lawn

Like all plants, the grass in your lawn needs sunlight, oxygen, water and fertilizing. Most lawns receive a lot of sunlight. So, that isn’t much of a problem. But, the same isn’t always true for the latter three.

That’s where lawn aeration comes in.

In this article we look at why, how and when to aerate your lawn. We go into detail about this method of gardening to see whether or not your lawn actually needs it.

And, if you decide that it does, we’ll show you how to aerate your lawn to get optimal results.

What is Lawn Aeration?

Aeration is the process of poking holes into the soil to allow oxygen, water and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. Often done with a machine called the lawn aerator, it breaks up compacted soil and removes excess thatch or other debris that have accumulated under the grassy surface.

This gardening technique help build stronger roots which in turn results in greener, healthier lawns.

Core aeration, which is considered to be the most effective type, makes use of the lawn aerators with tines that are driven into the ground to make holes that are between ½ to ¾ inches in diameter. These large holes allow for sufficient nutrients, air and water to get deep into the grass.

If you don’t have a machine, you can also use manual methods of poking holes in your yard. One of the easiest ways is using a pitchfork. But, it is very labor intensive and you’ll want to be able to create large enough holes to produce optimum results.

Why Your Should Aerate Your Lawn?

dog on lawnDepending on the type of soil you have, the weather in your locale, the amount of foot traffic your lawn experiences, its soil can become compacted. When this happens, soil becomes packed tightly together. As a result, there isn’t much space for oxygen, water or nutrients from fertilizer to get to the roots of the grass.

When your lawn lacks these factors, it won’t be able to grow properly. As a result, you won’t enjoy the lush, green lawn you desire.

Lawn aeration helps break up the compacted soil by perforating it with holes that are spaced apart. This allows pathways for air, water and nutrients to get to the bottom of the grass to help it grow.

In general, these are some indicators that your lawn needs to be aerated.

  • Lawns with heavy foot traffic, playgrounds and other soil that experience a lot of children or pets.
  • Areas that dry out quickly.
  • Laws with excessive thatch.
  • Soil with a heavy clay content. This isn’t the case for sandy soil.

When Should Your Aerate Your Lawn?

Like most things in gardening, when you aerate your lawn will depend on a few factors.

  • Warm season grasses are best aerated during late spring to early summer.
  • Cool season grasses benefit more when they’re aerated early into the fall.

Ideally, you want to aerate your lawn when the grass is growing. During this season, grass recovers and fills in the holes that are made. It is also able to heal itself.

But, it is important not to start too early. The reason for this is that weeds grow earlier in the spring. Thus, aerating too early allows them to grow first and make a hold for themselves which can mess up your lawn.

Lawn aerators typically come in two types, plug aerators and spike aerators.

  • Spike aerators – work like a pitch fork. The pierce holes into the ground using a tine. In this process, you go through the soil pushing the top layers deeper to create a hole in the soil.
  • Plug aerators – work differently. They take out a plug of grass and soil from your lawn’s surface. This means you’re not pushing in soil into deeper. Instead, you create a hole by removing a small part of soil and grass from the lawn.

Because of how it works, plug aerators are more effective. The don’t have the risk of increasing soil compaction. And, you’re able to loosen the soil better for air, water and nutrient access.

When choosing a lawn aerator machine, look for one that’s able to create between ½ to ¾ inch diameter holes. Ideally, the holes go down 2 to 3 inches deep as well.

Finally, poking holes that are between 2 to 3 inches apart is ideal. It allows enough spacing, so every section of the grass has access. But, you don’t over loosen the soil by poking too many holes near one another.

How to Aerate Your Lawn?

how to aerate your lawnWhen it’s time to aerate your lawn, here are a few steps you can follow to get the job done.

  1. Make sure that the soil is moist. This makes it easier to poke holes into the surface. Dry soil makes it tougher. Not only does this make it difficult to penetrate it also makes the soil crack more. Aerating can be done after rain or watering your lawn.
  2. Make sure you have the proper equipment. In this case, a lawn aerator with the proper specifications and something that’s well suited for your lawn.
  3. Like a lawn mower, you’ll need to make several passes over your lawn to fully cover it. Take your time doing so to make sure that each section has sufficient amount of holes created.
  4. After aerating, allow you the soil to dry and break up. This will let your lawn look uniform.
  5. Once you’re done, return to your regular lawn care routine of watering, mowing and fertilizing.



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