When and How to Aerate Your Lawn? – Complete Breakdown

After a while, the soil beneath your lush green lawn becomes hard and congested because of the constant traffic it receives and nature taking its toll. When this happens, the ground is deprived of essential needs, which can adversely affect your lawn. In this feed we will get to know, how to deal with this by getting answers for When and How to Aerate Lawn?

Your once lush green lawn may start to die out with bare patches appearing around your lawn.

Or what if you’re trying to overseed a patchy lawn? Disturbing the ground too much will disrupt the grass growing already. There’s a need for a technique to handle these common lawn problems.

That garden all your friends once admired would now become a shadow of its former self. I know you don’t want that for your garden; that’s why I have come up with this piece to help you understand what aerating is, how, and when to do it in your garden.

Let me start by showing you what aerating your lawn means.

When and How to Aerate Your Lawn

What is Aeration?

Aeration is the practice of opening up small holes through your lawn and into the ground. This practice allows for the easy passage of air, nutrients, and water into the ground.

Aeration helps to loosen the compacted soil and remove excess thatch that clogs the base of the lawn.

How to Know if Your Lawn Needs Aeration?

Sometimes people are not sure if they should aerate their lawns or not. Here, I’ve listed some indicators that show if you need to aerate your lawn.

Although dethatching and aeration are different, they work hand in hand to help your lawn. Aeration helps to break up thatch built up over time, especially from aggressively spreading grass like Bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass, which produces an enormous amount of thatch.

when to aerate lawn

  • Does your lawn get heavy traffic? Do humans, pets, and machines frequent your lawn? Then it probably needs aeration.
  • Was your lawn established by sod? Lawns grown from sod need aeration because water typically stays in the finer soil that comes with the sod without draining into the coarser soil beneath.
  • Does your soil have a spongy feel and dry out quickly? This may be a result of excess thatch. Check the thatch level by removing a portion of the lawn with soil. If the thatch is more than half-inch, you need aeration.
  • Do you find water puddles all over your lawn after a little rainfall or watering? This may mean the soil is too compacted and is preventing water from going into the ground.
  • Are you looking to add nutrients or overseed a patchy lawn area using a broadcast spreader? Aerating the lawn first will make it more effective.

When to Aerate Your Lawn?

Now that you are sure your soil lawn needs aeration, you need to know the right time to do this. If you do not perforate the ground at the right season, you run the risk of damaging the lawn.

The right time to aerate is dependent on a lot of factors, with the significant factor to consider being the type of grass in your lawn.

how to aerate soil

The best time to aerate your grass is right before or during its peak growing period, not after. As much as aeration is a vital lawn maintenance practice, aerating will stress the grass at the wrong time. You should also avoid aerating dormant lawns.

The best time to aerate cool-season grasses is around early fall or spring, as those are the peak growth period for northern lawns. When dealing with southern lawns and warm-season grasses, you should aerate around late spring or early summer.

Moisture is necessary to aid aeration, so aerate a day after irrigation or rainfall.

During the growing season, the essence of aerating is so the grass can recover quickly and fill up the areas opened up by the aerating tool used.

Aerating during early spring is not advisable as this is the most productive time for most weeds. Perforating the soil at that time will give them room to expand.

Types of Aerators

Generally, there are three significant types of aeration equipment.

  • Plug aerators: these aeration machines plug holes into the ground and remove the soil out. They are very efficient and are mostly used by professionals. The machines are also quite expensive to purchase. types of aerator
  • Slice aerators: these aerators work by slicing the soil with its blade, thereby opening it up without disturbing the ground too much. The soil is still in place after using a slice aerator. It is a very effective aerator.slice aerator to aerate lawn
  • Spike aerators: they work by poking holes into the ground with the help of sharp edges forced into the ground. They use pressure to force the soil down and aside to create holes. This can cause further compaction in the areas around the holes. Some popular spike aerators include garden forks, shoe spikes, among others.spike aerator to aerate soil

How to Aerate Lawn?

The question on everyone’s lips when it comes to aeration is how I can aerate my lawn? Can I handle it alone?

Depending on the type of aerator you’re using and your land’s size, the application process may vary slightly.

1. Mow the grass

A few days before you start aerating, you should mow your lawn to make it accessible.

2. Clear Debris and Dirt

How to Aerate Your Lawn

Remove all debris, leaves, and dirt so you have a clear view of the lawn. This will make your work easier.

3. Water a Day Before

Water your lawn one day before aerating to make the soil moist and easy to work on. Dry soil will be hard on both the aerator and operator. You want moist soil, not muddy ground that has been overwatered. Ideally, 1 inch of water is enough.

4. Aerate

After you have finished preparing your land, it is now time to aerate the lawn. If you’re using spike shoes, wear the shoes and walk through your lawn, making sure you poke holes all across. If you’re using other hand-held spike tools like forks, you can press down the fork as you move around your lawn.

For walk-behind slice or plug aerators, direct them by pushing them across your lawn from one end while they do the work. This applies to aerators attached to tractors; simply attach them to your tractors PTO shafts and drive them around.

5. Leave Soil Plugs 

Leave Soil Plugs

Soil plugs removed from the soil should be left on the top of the lawn to dry up and breakdown, providing more nutrients to your garden.

6. Apply Compost

Fertilize your lawn or apply compost after aerating to help strengthen the grass and encourage recovery.

After all these, you can continue with your regular irrigation and maintenance routine.

How often should You Aerate?

Ideally, it would be best if you aerated at least once a year. You may have to aerate more frequently if you notice some of the things listed in the “how to know if your lawn needs aeration” section.

This will guide you on how often you should aerate.

Final Thoughts

As you have already seen, aeration is essential. You can decide to employ the services of professionals or do it yourself. Whichever way and aerator type you choose, following the guide here, will help you achieve a lush green lawn once again.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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