As many will attest, maintaining a lawn is difficult business, and if you have no prior experience of caring for your lawn, then you’re going to need all of the help you can get.
One of the most important things you need to ensure you do is aerating your lawn. Ensuring your lawn is properly aerated is important, as it’s one of the factors that helps your lawn to grow better.
Whether you’ve never heard of lawn aeration before, or have heard of it but have no idea what it means exactly, don’t worry, as we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you learn everything you need to know about lawn aeration.
If you’re looking to learn why you need to aerate your lawn, when to aerate your lawn, and the best way to do it, then this guide is for you. So, let’s get started!
There are a number of ways to aerate your lawn, including spike aerators, slicing aerators, and plug aerators, all of these create holes in your lawn to allow for the water and nutrients to access the roots easier, leading to a better looking and healthier lawn.
Your lawn should be aerated at least once a year, or every two years for looser soils. The method you choose is all dependent on your budget, lawn size, and whether or not you want to do the work yourself, or hire a landscaping company to do it for you.
What Is Lawn Aeration?
For those of you who have never even heard of lawn aeration before, we’ll explain a little bit more about what it is here first before diving into the details, which should hopefully help your understanding of it all!
Lawn aeration is typically defined as being “a perforation of the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and even nutrients to penetrate the roots of the grass.”
What lawn aeration essentially does is break down the layers of soil, allowing water, nutrients, and air to get to the roots easier than they usually would, in turn helping the roots to grow much stronger and deeper.
Lawn aeration also helps to prevent weeds too due to the stronger roots, and the turf itself will become much more resilient over time. Aerating your lawn is a great way to ensure that your lawn growth is cohesive too, so it’s definitely something you should consider doing.
Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn?
Lawn aeration is important for quite a few different reasons. However, the most common reason why people like to aerate their lawns is to help alleviate and prevent soil compaction.
Soil compaction can hinder nutrients, water, and air from getting to the roots of your lawn as the soil will be too difficult to penetrate.
There are also a number of different elements below the surface of your lawn that need to be loosened up too to ensure that these things are able to penetrate their way down to the roots.
Whether or not you need to aerate your lawn can depend on a number of different factors, but the most important one is the type of soil you’re using in your lawn.
Lawns that feature heavier or denser soils, such as soils that have clay in them will need to be aerated on a more frequent basis than looser soils do. However, it’s safe to say that all forms of soil will benefit from aeration on a regular basis.
How To Tell If You Need To Aerate Your Lawn?
Being able to tell whether or not your lawn needs aeration is quite difficult at first, and while aeration might not be something everyone wants to do with their lawn, it’ll definitely help the growth of your lawn.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your lawn needs aeration, then consider some of these factors, and you should be able to tell whether or not your lawn requires any aeration.
- Your lawn regularly sees “high traffic” – meaning you have pets or people regularly walking and running around on the lawn. This all leads to the compaction of the soil by adding frequent pressure.
- If your lawn is new and has recently been put in – new lawns are known to have a lot of pressure, so aerating your new lawn and loosening some of the soil is good for helping it to grow faster and better, and will also help to prevent any weeds from calling your lawn home!
- If you notice that your lawn is drying out too quickly, or has a somewhat bouncy feel to it, then it might be time to aerate – these are usually symptoms of a thatch issue, and you can usually tell by removing some of the lawn and digging down 4 inches. Thatch layers should be no deeper than ½ an inch, which means aeration might be a good idea.
- If you established your lawn from sod yourself, then there is likely to be soil layering – this might mean you need to aerate your lawn, as having thinner soil over the pre-existing soil can cause drainage issues in the long run, and even affect the development of roots. But by aerating your lawn, you can easily correct this!
When To Aerate Your Lawn, And How Often You Should Do It?
Some of the important things for the growth of your lawn is knowing when to plant new seeds, and when to water your lawn. However, what many people don’t realize is that knowing when to aerate your lawn is equally as important.
Although it all depends on your geographic location, the best time for you to aerate your lawn is during the growing season. The grass will be able to grow and repair itself easily if areas are opened up or destroyed with the removal of the soil plugs.
It also depends on the grass your lawn has too. If you have warm season grass, which typically grows during the spring and early summer, then this is when you’ll need to aerate.
While cool season grasses will grow in early spring and throughout fall, so adjust when you aerate accordingly.
Aerating and working on your lawn in the wrong season will not only limit the effectiveness of this work, but could also lead to a number of larger issues, so patience is required if you’re planning to improve your lawn.
Knowing how often you should aerate your lawn is important too, although it can depend on a number of factors.
These include things such as the type of grass used on your lawn, the soil you have used, the condition of the soil, as well as how well your lawn seems to be growing visually.
If you feel like your lawn needs aeration, then don’t be afraid to go ahead and aerate it. Whether it’s had a lot of traffic recently and those areas are struggling, or if you notice a thatch buildup (clippings or other extra materials), then it’s a good time to aerate.
As a general rule, you should try to aerate your lawn at least once a year if your soil is particularly heavy, while looser soils can aerate once every two years. If your soil is in good condition though, you can aerate much less frequently.
How To Aerate Your Lawn?
If you think your lawn needs aeration and you’ve decided that you’re going to undertake this task yourself, then there are a number of things you should consider before you begin.
The first thing you will need to check is whether or not your lawn has had enough water. Dry soil is much harder to aerate than well-watered soil, so either wait for it to rain before you aerate your soil, or ensure that you water your lawn well before you aerate.
If you feel like there are some areas of your lawn that don’t require any aeration, then it’s definitely not worth doing that area for the sake of it, and you’ll definitely want to save that energy for aerating the sections which need it most!
The other thing you’ll need to consider is the method you’re going to use to aerate the lawn, there are a number of different options, so it’s worth evaluating each one carefully to ensure that you pick the right one.
Ways To Aerate Your Lawn
Aerating your lawn isn’t a simple job, and requires the use of machinery in order to do it properly.
There are three common types of machinery used to aerate your lawn, and which one you choose will depend not only on your budget, but also on the size of your lawn too. These methods are:
- Slicing Aeration
- Spike Aeration
- Core or Plug Aerators
Some aerators are manual, some are aerators you walk behind, while others have to be towed by a tractor. We’ll take a look at each one in-depth, so that you can decide on which one is going to be right for you and your lawn.
Spike aerators do exactly what they sound like they do, they help to aerate the lawn by creating holes in the ground. While specific aerator spikes are available, many people simply opt to use a pitchfork in order to create the holes in the lawn for aeration.
If you have a section of your lawn that experiences high traffic on a regular basis, then this might just be the way to do so, especially seeing as it is easy to do and quickly done.
With rotating blades, slicing aerators are able to cut through both the grass and the thatch on your lawn before going deep into the soil to help improve not only the air’s access to the roots, but also help the water to penetrate the soil too.
Although they’re somewhat similar to spike aerators, these aerators don’t actually remove any of the soil from the ground, instead, they just leave enough space for the necessary air and water to enter, which means that they don’t cause any soil compaction either.
If you’re looking to emulate the methods used by the professionals out there, then you’ll need to use a core aerator, which is also sometimes known as a plug aerator.
While you might not want to buy one of these aerators out right (they can be rather expensive), they are thankfully offered as rental options from a number of different home centers or other equipment rental companies, which means that you can use them on your own lawn at a fraction of the cost.
A core aerator will create small holes in rows across your lawn, which also remove plugs of soil too, which are then left on top of the soil.
There are a number of different variations of core aerators available, with differing depths, and widths available, so you can find the one which is right for you!
How To Pick A Method?
According to the turf and lawn experts out there, then any aerator that will remove soil plugs tends to be the most effective aerator. However, just how efficient an aerator is can also depend on the soil used for your lawn, and the size of the lawn you need to aerate.
Spike aerators can cause compaction around the holes they create, but for much smaller patches of lawn, they’re the simplest and easiest way to help aerate your lawn.
It’s typically recommended to find an aerator that pulls soil plugs from around 2 to 3 inches deep into your soil, these plugs should measure around an inch in diameter, and be around 4 inches apart from each other.
Pulling up soil plugs is important for those looking to keep a cohesive lawn. Allow the soil plugs to dry, and then you can break them up by using a lawn mower, or the back of a rake!
Overall, picking which method for aerating your lawn should be obvious depending on the size of the lawn, and the quality of aeration you’re looking for.
Maintaining Your Aerated Lawn
Aerating your lawn isn’t the be-all and end-all of maintaining your lawn however, so even once you’ve aerated it you’ll need to get to work on it. Mowing, fertilization, and watering your lawn on a regular basis is necessary if you want your lawn to grow and flourish.
Once you’ve aerated, you can over-seed your lawn and add in high-quality organic compact in order to help bring up your lawn to look its best.
This will help the seed and compost to work their way down into the soil, and you should notice that you have better germination as a result!
As well as the better germination, your lawn will also become much healthier and thicker-looking thanks to more nutrients being able to find their way into the soil.
While it might be tempting to use organic or chemical fertilizers on top, we recommend adding a ¼ of an inch of organic compost instead. Not only will it provide your aerated lawn with plenty of great nutrients, but it will also help to keep the soil moist too.
We hope that this guide has been able to shed some light on lawn aeration for you, including what exactly lawn aeration is, how it can help your lawn, when you should aerate your lawn, as well as how you should choose one of the few methods for aeration.
It doesn’t matter which of the options you choose, remember that you can either do it yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you for extra money.
If you have a particularly large lawn, and you have enough money in your budget to do it, then hiring a professional landscaping company to do the aeration for you is always worth it.
However, for those with smaller budgets and lawns, and who don’t mind doing the work themselves (it can be quite intensive though!) then go ahead and rent an aerator and get to work!
By paying attention to what your lawn requires, and by caring and maintaining it on a regular basis, you’ll be rewarded with a lawn with a luscious lawn that will be the envy of the entire neighborhood.