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How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

Last Updated: 22.04.24


You put a lot of effort into making your lawn stand out from the crowd, and you have every aspect of lawn maintenance down to the minutest detail. You most probably use a good lawn plug aerator to ensure that the grass has room to grow its roots and grow healthy and strong. However, while you may be well aware of the importance of aeration, you might want to know more about how it works and what you can do to yield the desired effects.

Below, we will focus on the essential aspects of aeration, how often you should do it, as well as methods of nailing it correctly. Even if you hear about aeration for the first time, all this information will help you in your endeavor of making your lawn look its best.


Lawn aeration, in a nutshell

Before getting to the nitty-gritty details of how and when you should perform lawn aeration, let’s learn a little about its basics. Simply put, this term describes the process of making holes into the soil to allow the roots of the plants to breathe and grow strong.

Gardeners consider that a healthy soil should have about half of its volume made of empty space. The tiny pockets of air allow the water to reach the roots faster and nourish them. In time, the soil tends to compact, and less and less air is found in it. To rejuvenate it, you need to perform the process called aeration.

A well-aerated lawn will allow nutrients to reach the roots of the plants and help them thrive. Aeration that’s performed regularly can make a whole world of difference between a lawn with unsightly brown spots and a burnt grass aspect and one that looks lush and beautiful.


Types of lawn aeration available

This technique doesn’t sound too tricky, and it’s not. However, by knowing about the different types you can employ, you can become more efficient at aerating your lawn correctly. The most common are spiked aeration and core aeration.

Spiked aeration is the technique that involves walking over the lawn and puncturing the soil with a standard garden fork. It is a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. If you visit a gardening store, you may notice that they sell spiked shoes that serve the same purpose. However, if you don’t want to spend extra money, you can rely on your fork without any problem.

But is spiked aeration enough for a healthy, beautiful lawn? Experts recommend using a special plug aerator that does a more thorough job than what you can do with a garden fork. Motorized options allow you to perform what is called core aeration. This technique involves the dislocation of small pieces of soil that are spread over the lawn.

Core aeration is needed when the soil becomes hard and challenging to work with. Seeing how motorized tools are preferred, this operation involves less effort on your part, so it’s convenient, too. However, you shouldn’t dismiss the use of spiked aeration altogether. When you just want to run a small maintenance operation, it comes in handy. Plus, during the seeding period, it is just as useful.

Combining the two is the way to go. When you have to deal with compacted soil, opt for core aeration. For small maintenance jobs, just go for spiked aeration, and your lawn will receive the care it deserves.


The crucial benefits of aerating your lawn

Having the soil aerated plays a significant role in how your lawn will develop. If you haven’t yet aerated your lawn, here are some essential reasons that will convince you of the importance of this maintenance task.

One thing you should know about the lush grass that makes your lawn is that its roots don’t grow inside the soil, but in the small holes and cracks in it. They are quite delicate, which is why they cannot grow well in compacted soil. When seeding, it’s a good idea to aerate the soil, to make enough room for the new plants to grow.

As the roots grow, their demands for water and nutrients go. But if the soil begins to squeeze them and the cracks are entirely covered, less and less water will get to them. That is why aeration is a process that must be repeated regularly for optimal effects.

Another critical benefit of aerating your lawn is that it reduces surface runoff. When the soil is too compacted, the rainwater will begin to affect the topsoil, by removing it little by little. With it, the necessary nutrients for feeding the grassroots will disappear.

In brief, you can’t have a beautifully manicured lawn if you don’t aerate it. With this technique, you ensure that the roots of the plants will grow deeper and stronger. When you fertilize your lawn, you will notice a better absorption. Since rainwater won’t wash away the pesticides, that’s another significant benefit.

You may also notice that there is little debris accumulating on your lawn. The fresh grass blades won’t let it rest on top of them, so overall, the look of your lawn will go through a significant improvement.


How often should lawn aeration be performed?

While you might think that lawn aeration is something you should do all the time, the good news is that this supposition is far from the truth. Experts consider that aerating your lawn – talking about core aeration – shouldn’t be done more often than once every three years. Still, some critical aspects come into play, such as the type of soil present in your yard and others.

Let’s focus now on the factors that can influence the frequency of running complete aeration of your lawn. As mentioned, the soil type is vital. Clay soil, for instance, is more demanding, and you might have to aerate it once a year or every other year. Sandy soils are less challenging to deal with, and there is plenty of natural aeration going on. There is another reason why you shouldn’t aerate sandy soil more than once every three years or less. Dislocating the soil will cause it to weaken, and then you’ll obtain the opposite effects of proper aeration.

How compacted the soil is represents another factor. Having your car stationed on your lawn all the time can cause it to become compact. When you notice that the yard soil becomes rock solid, that’s a clear sign that it is in dire need of aeration.

Notice the grass, too. Any signs of thinning grass or patches of bare land usually point out at a soil that doesn’t allow nutrients to properly reach the roots and nourish them.


What time of the year is most recommended for aerating your lawn?

The answer to this question may differ depending on the type of grass growing on your lawn. Cool-season turfs, like Kentucky blue, for instance, dictate that the aeration should happen in early fall. Change the time of aeration for warm-season grasses to late spring and even early summer.


Essential advice for making lawn aeration as easy as possible

Aerating your lawn is not exactly a smooth operation, even when you use motorized tools. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to have some tricks up your sleeve to make this process as easy as possible. For instance, it is a good idea to water the area one day before the scheduled aeration. If it happens to rain, don’t start while the soil is drenched in water. Preferably, for the best results, the soil should be just damp.

Remove any obstacles or mark them if they aren’t the removable type so that you know how to guide your aerator over the soil for maximum results without causing any damage to bushes and flower beds.

Plan a route for the entire process so that you don’t end up going over the same patch repeatedly, or not once over others. Make sure that pets and children stay indoors and do not end up in the path of the aerator by accident.


Be aware of over-aeration

If you follow the advice described above, you shouldn’t be in any danger of over-aerating your lawn. However, such a thing might happen, and that is why you must be aware of its downsides. Too much aeration can destroy the soil. If you use a core aerator too often, you may remove the topsoil altogether, along with all the nutrients it carries. To be safe, don’t overdo it, and your lawn will thrive.



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