How to Aerate Your Lawn | Why, When, and How?

Like your hair or body, your lawn needs regular freshening to remain healthy and admirable from afar. With simple upkeep on a regular schedule, you will begin finding it easier to take care of your lawn. However, you need to know why, when, and how to aerate your lawn.

The entire process contributes to improving air circulation in the soil so that water and nutrients can penetrate adequately. 

Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

The primary purpose of lawn aeration is for the alleviation of your soil’s compaction. When the soil is compact on many levels, the large particles and volumes contribute to inadequate soil spacing. This then translates to poor air circulation, and nutrients do not spread evenly within the soil.

Heavy organic debris and lawn thatch under the grass also account for poor lawn health. The roots will eventually starve, and you will start noticing your lawn grass getting weaker. This is why opening up your lawn for proper circulation should be a regular undertaking, especially if you mow it often.

Natural elements contribute to poor lawn conditions, draining the color and texture of your grass. The sun’s heat and regular rainfall are significant contributors in this case. Aeration can help open up the soil to accommodate adverse weather better. This way, even if the sun is hot or the rain has done its work on your lawn, the ground can balance each element.

When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

If your lawn appears to be a bit dry or the grass looks as if it is struggling to keep up, then this is a clear indicator that natural circulation is not taking place as it should. Simple activities such as children playing outside or a car driving on your lawn could lead to soil compactness.

The type of soil in your environment also determines how often you need to aerate your lawn. If your yard falls in the following categories, then it is a clear sign that it would be good to aerate:

  • The lawn dries up fast or often feels a bit spongy. You could be having an excessive thatch issue for these particular results.
  • The structure was sod established or has soil layering. This occurs when the soil is imported and layered over original coarse soil. The layering distracts natural water drainage where the moisture is only held within the more nuanced texture.
  • You have children and pets having fun in the yard almost daily, or you continuously have visitors passing over and/or having leisure time on your lawn. This can cause it to dry up and become compact.
  • The lawn was set aside after new construction, either for the home or any other complementary building. In such cases, the topsoil often has several impurities, is over-buried or stripped.

However, it would be best if you did not wait to see some of your lawn’s adverse complications before you decide to aerate it. The best time to get the aeration work done is when the grass is young or growing season.

This gives room for the grass to sprout healthily. It also allows for easy work to open up the aeration pores and do away with soil plugs. The cold seasons, around fall, and late spring, are the best times to aerate the lawn.

Do not try to aerate dormant lawns. You will only be adding to the grass strain, thus causing more harm than good. Also, please do not work on your lawn when it is overly wet. Wait for a day or two for the moisture to settle a bit.

How to Aerate Your Lawn in 5 Steps

Sometimes it is easier to get an expert who knows how to aerate lawn instead of doing all the work yourself. Other times, it is more fulfilling to enjoy the work and nature of your grass. The steps really aren’t difficult, but they are rather time-consuming.

The biggest mistake people make when aerating a lawn is doing it at the wrong time, again, make sure to aerate when the grass is or should be growing.
Follow these 5 steps to aerate your lawn:

1. Evaluate Soil

Evaluate the soil to understand its condition before you take out any lawn tools. Check to see how moist the soil is. If you are planning to do this during the rainy season, wait a day after the showers. Otherwise, if it has been dry you could water the lawn a tiny bit and then begin aeration.

2. Aerate Lawn

Make multiple passes with an aeration machine (or hand tools) and concentrate more on the most compacted regions. Some machines have minimal coverage; therefore, make sure you distribute the passes as adequately as possible.

3. Leave the Aeration Plugs

Leave the soil plugs to dry naturally. They provide critical nutrients for the lawn. After drying up they slowly work back into the ground. The lawnmower and natural activity will also break them down.

4. Apply Seed, Fertilizer, & Water

After creating the aeration holes make sure to apply your seed and fertilizer within the first 48 hours. Also, water your lawn accordingly. Having the aerated holes make the seed and fertilizer get down into the soil much easier.

5. Continue Lawn Maintenance

Once your lawn is aerated correctly, take on primary lawn care to keep the grass in top shape. Mowing, fertilizing, and watering will keep your lawn in tip-top shape.

At first, this will feel like a lot of work. Just remember, if your lawn is in need of aeration you should do it as soon as possible.

Many fear that using pre-emergent herbicides while aerating the lawn in the spring will eliminate your herbicide barrier. This is not entirely true. Aeration does not affect weed prevention or crabgrass control, keep that in mind.

Read our related post “Can I Walk on My Lawn After Aeration? (or should I wait)” here.

lawnmower driving

The Different Types of Lawn Aerator Tools

The primary consideration when it comes to choosing lawn aerator tools is probably your lawn size. If the area is significantly large, an aerator tool attached to a riding mower would be a better pick. If you have a smaller piece of land, the manual options might be more fulfilling.

Lawn aerators come in different styles and are used in different ways, here are the different types:

Plug or Core Aerators

Plug or core aerators use rows of hollow tines to remove plugs, place them on top, and break them. You can have a variety of hole sizes depending on the machine you use.

Slicing Aerators

Slicing aerators use rotating blades to cut and slice through the hatch down to the soil. Though the dirt remains in the ground, these tools leave pathways for air and water.

Spike Aerators

Spike aerators simply boreholes into the soil. You can get spike aerators in the form of shoes and walk around your yard as you trim your fence or mow the lawn.

Aside from the three aeration tool functions above, some people break them down into different types of tools based on how humans actually use them.

Manual Aerator Tools

Human aerator tools are also called manual aerator tools. These work well with smaller pieces of land or people who do not mind getting fit as they work their lawns. The lawn aerator shoes are an excellent example of a spike aerator or a human tool in this case. Also, the common pitchfork is used to pluck holes in lawns, but using a push aerator would take less time.

Electric and Gas Aerators

Electric and gas aerator tools are more automatic. Both work with fuel (electricity or gas), and you can use them as long as the power remains adequate. They are efficient and easy to use, plus they could help save time and energy. You can rent them at HomeDepot or other local rental shops.

Lawn Mower Attachments

Lawnmower tow behind aerator tools are simple to use. Attach an aerator piece to your mower and just drive around the yard. The Agri-Fab 48-inch is one of the best on the market.

Final Thoughts

If you are not sure where to start when aerating your lawn, it is okay to consult with a landscaping company. Only remember to pay attention to the state of your yard and not to wait too long before you decide to take action on your compacted yard.

Leave a Comment