Aerating Lawns: What, When, and How

What is Lawn Aeration?

Lawn aeration is one of the best things you can do for your lawn. It's a simple process that has a big impact. Aeration involves making small holes in the soil that allow air and water to reach the grassroots. This helps the roots to grow deeply, creating a stronger, livelier lawn.

There are many benefits to aerating your lawn. It helps to improve drainage, reduce compaction, and promote healthy root growth. Aeration also provides an opportunity for overseeding. This is when you spread new seed over the lawn, which germinates in the aeration holes and thickens up the turf. Overseeding is a great way to fill in bare spots and give your lawn a boost of color.

When Should I Aerate My Lawn?

If you're not sure when the best time is to aerate your lawn, don't worry - we can help you figure it out! It mainly depends on where you live and the seasonal temperature extremes.

If you live somewhere with very cold winters and hot summers, you likely have cool-season grasses - such as bluegrass, ryegrass, or fescue - the best time to aerate is in the early spring or early fall.  These grasses are very common in the Northeast, Northern Midwest, and Northwest. If you live in somewhere with cool/warm winters and hot summers, you likely have warm-season grass - such as St. Augustine, Bermuda grass, or buffalo grass - you'll want to aerate in the late spring or early summer. These grasses more commonly grow in warmer climates, like the Deep South and lower Southwest/Southeast.

How To Aerate My Lawn?

You can either hire a lawn service company to do it for you, or you could buy, rent, or borrow the equipment do it yourself.  If you choose to do it yourself, here is what we recommend:

The Day Before Aeration

  1. Water the areas of your lawn you plan to aerate for 15-30 minutes. This will soften the soil and make it much easier for the machine.

  2. Either purchase, rent, or borrow a core aeration machine. If you have a large lawn you may wan to use a riding style aerator, otherwise a walk behind version will work good.

Important: Use marking flags to mark the location of sprinkler heads, tree roots, or any other hazards that could be damaged by the core aerator.

Aeration Day

  1. Start aerating your lawn using the machine. Make sure you go over the entire lawn at least once.  If you have never aerated before you may want to go over it twice.

  2. During this process the aerator will leave little cores on the ground. Leave them there and they will break down back into the soil.

  3. Once all the aeration is complete, water the lawn for 15-30 minutes.

  4. Continue watering your lawn every 2-3 days for the next 2 weeks.

What Should I Do After Aerating My Lawn?

At the bare minimum, keep watering your lawn every 2-3 days for the next 2 weeks.  However, if you want your lawn to reach its maximum potential, do these tasks:

  • Overseed Your Lawn – This is where you spread new grass seed over the existing grass. This new grass seed will fill the openings from the core aerator and help your lawn grow back thicker and healthier!

  • Fertilize – After aeration is the perfect time to fertilize, especially if you overseed as well. This allows the nutrients to get deep into the soil and gives your lawn a great head start into next season.

How Often Should I Aerate My Lawn?

At least every 2-3 years.  It depends on how much activity your yard sees each year and also how much clay is in your soil.  If you live in a location with high clay soil content, it is best to aerate your lawn every year.

There are a few visual indicators of when a lawn should be aerated.  If the soil is hard to the touch, or if the grass always looks stressed then those are key signs.  If your lawn has water that pools on top and does not drain well, then that is another sign.  You can also test the soil with a screwdriver.  If you can easily push the screwdriver into the soil then it is ok.  However, if it is difficult to push the screwdriver into the ground then it is likely time for aeration.

Although it is only needed annually at most, lawn aeration is crucial for helping your lawn reach its full potential.  Lets get out there and impress the neighbors with a lush green lawn next season!