Do You Need to Aerate Your Lawn? Best Practices for Lawn Aeration

do you need to aerate your lawn?

Lawn aeration is the process of creating a series of small holes in the soil of a turfgrass lawn. Aeration relieves soil compaction, improves drainage, and provides oxygen to remove worms and benefit microorganisms. Aerating your lawn boosts the development of thick and healthy grass. 

When and Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

Your local soil conditions determine how frequently you should aerate. These general guidelines apply to soil types: 

  • Heavier soil textures like clay, clay loam, and silty loam should be aerated once per year
  • Lighter soil textures like sandy soil, sandy loam, and loam should be aerated every few years

Aerating should occur during moderate weather conditions, such as a spring or autumn day.

If you’re planting new grass seed in the fall, aerate beforehand to improve results. The holes created by aeration allow water and nutrients to enter the ground and nourish the root system. This improves growing conditions for your new grass seed. 

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Aeration 

Before aerating, mow your lawn. A shaggy lawn will decrease the effectiveness of the aeration process. Plus, if you’re laying down new seed after aerating, shorter grass will help the seed reach the soil to achieve good seed to soil contact and you won’t want to mow until that new grass has reached mowing height. So, it’s best to get a mowing out of the way before initiating the aerating and seeding processes. 

Additionally, water your lawn one to three days prior to aerating. Dry soil is harder to penetrate and dry grass is stressed. To see if your soil is moist enough for aeration, test it with a screwdriver. If it’s hard to push through the soil, then your lawn is too dry. 

When your soil is slightly moist, it’s looser and more easily penetrated by aerator tools. However, the soil should not be soaking wet, or the aerator will struggle to operate in the muddy soil. 

As a final pre-aeration step, use flags to mark your sprinkler heads and other lawn fixtures that could be damaged by an aeration tool.  

Using the Right Aerator Equipment

Soil aerators typically consist of a rotating strip attached to a handle. The aerator is pushed across the grass like a lawnmower. As the device moves, the strip rotates and continuously punctures the surface of the lawn. 

Commonly-used tools for aeration include core aerators, slicing aerators, and spike aerators. 

Core Aerators

Core aerators use a series of tines to extract plugs, i.e. small cylinders of dirt. These motorized aerators are great for any size lawn because they’re easy to operate. Core aerators are typically the preferred choice for professional lawn service providers. 

Spike Aerators

A spike aerator is the most basic aeration tool, consisting of a strip of metal spikes. The spikes create thin vertical holes in the soil. Spike aerators or solid tine aerating produces the same results as a core aerator without the plugs.

What to Do With Plugs After Aerating

If you use a core aerator, your lawn will be covered in soil plugs for a short time afterward. While the plugs may look a bit off-putting, it’s best to leave them in place. Don’t remove your plugs or attempt to pat them back into the ground. 

Both the aeration holes and the plugs work for the betterment of your lawn. While the holes allow water, nutrients, and oxygen to reach your grass roots, the plugs contain valuable soil and nutrients that will gradually soak back into the ground. 

Lawn Aeration by Professionals

At Grasshopper Gardens, our team provides top-quality lawn care service to the New York Capital Region, including aeration. 

If your lawn needs professional aeration, we can help. Our aerator equipment uses cylindrical spoon insertions to remove plugs. This aeration process opens up your soil, promoting deep and healthy grass root growth. 

We offer a variety of essential lawn care services, including:

  • Lawn aeration and mechanical seeding
  • Lawn mowing
  • Lawn fertilization
  • Spring yard cleanup
  • Fall yard cleanup

To achieve or maintain a beautiful outdoor area around your home, contact us today to learn more.