Lawn Aeration Why, When, And How to Do It

You stand looking at your lawn and wonder what the signs are that the grassroots needs aerating. So when is the best time to aerate your lawn?

Well, when it comes to the lawn, many questions can arise, and we are here to answer them all.

Lawn Aeration: What is it?

Lawn aeration is punching holes in the soil beneath the grassroots. It helps with root growth as it aids in providing air and water to help the grass roots grow deeper, resulting in a livelier and more vigorous lawn.

The primary purpose of lawn aeration is to provide air for the lawn and soil underneath to breathe. Still, why would you aerate soil? When you aerate a lawn, it helps to prevent compacted soil.

Compacted soil is dense, similar to heavy clay soil, and it prevents the air, nutrients, and water from circulating correctly through the soil to reach the root zone.

It also helps alleviate soil compaction and the thatch layer that forms at the base of the grass that could starve the roots.

Telltale Signs That You Do Not Have a Healthy Lawn

dry lawn

With grass growth, you get a thatch layer comprising the shoots, stems, and roots. The plant material builds up and is referred to as decomposing organic matter that is beneficial to the health of the grass.

Still, too much thatch buildup can also deter the health of the lawn growth. With compacted soils, a thatch layer of more than half an inch is too thick and needs removing. Another reason for removing it is that it can become a breeding place for diseases and insects.

The excess lawn thatch also makes mowing the grass correctly tricky, as it has a spongey consistency. In addition, the lawn mower wheels start sinking, which will scalp the lawn. Neither will your lawn grow well, even if it gets water; lawn aeration can help.

Other Indicators You Need to Aerate Your Lawn

  • The topsoil can be buried or stripped if the lawn is part of a newly constructed home. Hence, due to heavy foot traffic, the grass will establish itself on the sub-soil and become compacted soil.

  • Excessive thatch could be present when you walk over the lawn, which feels supple but gets dehydrated fast. You can measure the thatch, and if you find it is over a half-inch thick, you can aerate the lawn.

  • If you have turf, there will be soil layering and a thin layer of garden compost in the landscaping. You spread it over the top for growing grass seeds. But eventually, the layer creates poor drainage, leading to compacted soil and poor root development. To maintain healthy grass, regularly aerating lawns can help.

  • Annual aeration also helps with traffic from kids and pets, as the traction leads to soil layering.

When Is The Best Time to Aerate Your Lawn

lawn mower

The best time to follow through with aeration is during weather-permitted periods for lawn recovery. We recommend doing this during the growing season, but it also depends on your grass type.

When you have newly constructed lawns with cool-season grasses, they thrive their best in the cool temperatures of fall and early spring. In contrast, warm-season grass thrives in the early summer months.

So, the best time to call in a lawn service to follow through with the procedure is at these times. The reason is that during these weather periods, you can control the lawn thatch of your cool season grass to your warm season grasses.

Still, you need not aerate your lawn yearly if you have a healthy lawn that grows well or sandy soil, as it does not compact easily. Thus, you only need to do aeration every two to three years.

Annual lawn aeration can damage the grass, and you only need to do yearly aeration if heavy foot traffic is present or you have clay soil. Clay is known to become wet and sticky, compacting easily.

Also, if you live in harsh climates, it is recommended to do lawn aeration twice a year or if experiencing dry to cold winters.

Aeration Equipment Used

plug aerator

Aeration you can do using manual tools, and you do it standing up or using a power tool. Here is the difference in aeration equipment; you can operate it manually. There are two main types the plug aeration process and a spike lawn aerator.

  • The spike lawn aerator is a manual garden tool creating small holes in the lawn.

  • A core aerator or plug aerator helps core aeration by removing cores from the soil. It works with spikes of hollow tines that make deeper holes than the spike lawn aerator. But it does take more labor and also does not provide massive coverage.

Still, doing things the manual way is very labor-intensive. Aeration services use power aerators, but the cost is a deciding factor as it is more expensive. If you buy one, we recommend investing in a scoring model.

If the grass is prone to compact fast or you have a decomposing thatch present, a machine removing plugs in the soil works best compared to using a garden fork only poking small holes.

When the tool removes plugs, it provides the best results, as poking holes can add pressure leading to compacted soil surrounding the holes.

It happens as no matter is removed, which creates added space. Also, look for aerating equipment that can remove soil plugs at three inches deep to 0.75 inches in diameter to 3 inches apart.

Steps to Aerate Your Lawn

dry lawn with a lawn mower

Here are some helpful tips on how to aerate your lawn.

  • When drought is present, we do not recommend aerating your lawn as it leaves the roots exposed to the sun.

  • Another important thing before you start aerating is to water your lawn two days before the time. Doing this allows for soil moisture leaving it soft and workable. Still, you need not water the lawn if natural rainfall is present.

  • Also, keep the sprinkler lines, utility lines, septic, and irrigation pipes in mind not to damage them in the process.

The Steps For Proper Lawn Aeration

lawn mowing

Now you know that aeration promotes healthy lawns by loosening up the organic debris and compacted soil. But there are a few steps to follow before you start aerating in late spring or summer.

  1. Start by mowing the grass first.

  2. Also, ensure to go over the most compact soil a few times, as plug aerators to another aerating tool only cover a small percentage of the soil surface. Then, you can leave the unaffected decompose thatch alone.

  3. If compacted areas are soft, you must aerate the whole law more than once.

  4. If this is the first time you aerate a lawn and it is seriously compacted, you will need to do it twice, and with the second pass, move perpendicular to the first.

  5. After the aeration, we recommend leaving excavated soil plugs on the lawn to decompose into the ground.

Once completing the steps above, the crucial thing is to water the grass well and apply lawn food for added nutrients to help the grass recover.

You can water the lawn every two to three days in the following weeks. Again, keeping the soil moist helps with germination to take place.

Also, cover the lawn with some screened topsoil mixed with organic matter spread out to create a layer ½ an inch thick. You can then sow seeds by hand or use a spreader. Allow the seeds to settle and roll the lawn.

Note: If you have clay soil, we recommend removing the cores and plugs from the lawn and adding some top-dress instead.

Questions Related to Lawn Aeration

Great, now that you know more about why the aeration of the lawn is so important, there are a few questions that homeowners ask. We are going to answer these questions the best we can.

How long can the aeration process take?

Whether you do the lawn aeration or decide to use aeration services depends on the tools used. Hence, it can take up to two hours, depending if you have a vast or small lawn. In addition, the plugs removed can take up to two weeks to break down.

Can I mow after aeration?

We do not recommend mowing the lawn after the process but leave the grass for a couple of days before cutting again. Allow the grass to reach at least 3 inches tall before mowing.

Must I fertilizer after lawn aeration?

You can use seeds and fertilizer and ensure to water the lawn within 48 hours after you aerate the lawn. Doing this will allow the seeds and fertilizer to get deep into the holes when applied shortly after aeration.

Final Thoughts

It is essential for lawn aeration, allowing for a healthy, beautiful lawn. With lawn aeration, you can ensure that new grass seeds thrive and the older grass established remains healthy.

So, if you have never aerated the lawn surface, all you need to decide is when to start.

Then choose the right tool to aerate the entire lawn to get started following the instructions we have provided here.

Whether you want to buy, sell, or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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