Can I Walk on My Lawn After Aeration? (or should I wait)

You’ve gone to the hard work of aerating your lawn. Now, you wonder how long you should wait before walking on it again. Maybe you have kids itching to play or a dog needing some outdoor time. Perhaps, you are even excited to get back out onto your lawn or to host that next get-together.

Aerating revitalizes your lawn so that it looks green and fresh again. So, you will want to be careful walking on it for the first few weeks after aerating.

Let’s dive into why you should be careful walking on your lawn after aeration.

What Does Aeration Do to Your Lawn?

When you aerate your lawn, you poke small holes and withdraw plugs of soil. This creates a pocket in the soil that increases the airflow and water supply to the grassroots. Aeration is an important step in the care and maintenance of a lawn that gets a lot of soil compaction.

Soil compaction is caused by people, pets, lawnmowers, heavy vehicles, etc. moving across your lawn. Their weight packs down soil particles, making them denser. This density leaves little room for air, nutrients, and water to circulate. This can lead to shallow roots and dying grass.

According to Cornell University, moist soil is more susceptible to soil compaction.  So, poorly drained areas may become compacted more easily.

Aeration provides better circulation of nutrients, water, and airflow to grow healthier, deeper grassroots.

Read our related post “How to Aerate Your Lawn | Why, When, and How?” here.

The Importance of Avoiding Foot Traffic on a Newly Aerated Lawn

Heavy foot traffic leads to soil compaction. So, after you have newly aerated your lawn, you’ll want to avoid allowing foot traffic on the lawn. This can be your kids playing, your dog running around in back, or even light moving from one place to another. 

If you have a dog, try designating a specific area of the lawn for him to play. If you need to drive or park heavy vehicles in your yard, consider moving them to the street or curb while your lawn is healing. Realistically, parking on grass is never a good idea if you want your grass to grow thick.

Children and adults should try to walk on designated paths to avoid recreating soil compaction.

How Long Should I Wait Before Walking on Your Lawn After Aerating?

After aeration, it’s best to wait at least a week before walking on your lawn, ideally you should be waiting up to 2 weeks to allow seeds to successfully germinate.

If you can hold off from walking on your lawn as long as possible you will get the best growing results, yes I know, easier said than done. You can try walking on the soil plugs to help minimize compaction if you must get on the lawn immediately.

Walking on the lawn too soon can stunt your lawn’s healing process and new seed germination process. Your grass needs time to establish it’s new roots.

Read our related post “What to do After Aerating Your Lawn?” here.

How Soon After Aeration Can I Mow the Lawn?

Even though you don’t want to let your lawn grow too long and become unsightly, you need to give your aeration time to work. Wait 2 to 3 weeks after aerating your lawn to mow; however, you may need to wait longer depending on its growth. You will want at least 3 inches of growth before mowing. This should allow your grass time to establish some new, healthy roots.

If you are aerating in the spring, you may need to wait longer for your grass to grow before mowing it, as it can take more time for roots to establish this time of year.

Remember that mowing with heavy machines is one of the major causes of soil compaction, so you don’t want to undo all your hard work. Consider using a push or reel mower the first few times you mow your newly aerated lawn. Also, vary the path you take while mowing.

If you mow over the same path each time, you can cause the ground to compact in those areas. Varying your pattern will spread out the wear and tear on your lawn.

Should I Seed the Lawn Right After Aeration?

Aeration creates the best conditions for seeding. So, to patch bare spots, or even out your lawn, overseeding after aeration is a good and common practice.

Many people aerate their lawn both in spring and fall. After aeration seeding should be done when it is the best growing season for your grass type. According to the University of Maryland Extension, if you have cool-season grasses, aerating and seeding should be completed in early fall or spring. Warm-season grasses should be aerated and reseeded in late spring or early summer.

Make sure to reseed during a time of the year when you will still get plenty of rain. Waiting until a dry season means extra watering on your part. Plus, the new seedlings will have a harder time establishing.

How Often Should I Water the Freshly Aerated Lawn?

A freshly aerated lawn dries out quicker than a compacted one, so you will need to water it pretty frequently, at first. Especially, if you are receiving low rainfall amounts.

For the first four weeks, keep the newly seeded lawn damp. Depending on the time of year, you may need to water a couple of times a day.

After 4 weeks, once your seed is fully germinated, you can decrease your watering schedule to 2-3 times a week, depending on rainfall amounts. Checking with your local municipality you can always ask the recommend watering schedule in your area.  

Final Thoughts

Aerating your lawn can improve the look and health of your grass. It is important to change your habits to decrease soil compaction. Try to avoid undoing all your hard work by walking or mowing over a newly aerated yard. With some patience and extra care, you’ll be enjoying a lush, green lawn that will be the envy of your neighbors.

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