How to Aerate Your Lawn

by | Lawn Tips

Whether you are a novice gardener, a seasonal worker, or a homeowner who wants to know more about lawn care, you’ve probably heard about aeration and how it can help you get healthier and greener turf. 

If you want to learn about aeration, you are on the right page. We will provide a step-by-step guide on why, when, and how to aerate your lawn, gaining from the expertise of the landscape expert’s instructions at the Yard Smart. 

What Is Lawn Aeration?

Lawn aeration is the process of puncturing the turf’s soil with holes to allow water, air, sunlight, and other nutrients to penetrate to the roots. Through aeration, you break up the thick soil layers and help the grassroots grow deeper and stronger. The process allows you not only to improve the look of your yard but also to make it stronger and more resistant to weeds and common lawn diseases. Lawn aeration encourages growth throughout the whole year by replenishing water, oxygen, and nutrients for problem areas. 

Why and When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

There are a few reasons you might want to aerate your lawn, but the most common ones are to relieve soil compaction and to stimulate turf growth. Over time, the soil becomes hard due to mowing, poor drainage, and foot traffic, preventing oxygen, water, and other essential nutrients from reaching the roots. 

While aeration isn’t necessary for every lawn—the type of soil will dictate the need for lawn aeration— but you should probably aerate if:

  • Your lawn is used often (high traffic, children running, pets playing, etc.).
  • You’ve recently put in your turf. It is important to get air to the roots, loosen the soil, and boost your turf with organic fertilizer. 
  • Your lawn seems to dry out, especially if you have a thatch problem. Remove part of the turf with a shovel, and if the thatch layer is deeper than one inch, lawn aeration is a good idea. 

Knowing the right time to aerate your lawn is very important. The best time is when the turf grows and repairs itself after winter or summer. Cool-season turf grows in the early fall and spring, while warm-season turf grows in late spring or early summer. If you aerate during the wrong month, you will limit the benefits and risk causing more turf issues. 

How to Aerate Your Lawn

If you wonder how to aerate your lawn, our step-by-step guide makes the process easy, simple, and stress-free. 

Step 1: Mow Your Lawn

The first thing you need to do before lawn aeration is to mow the entire yard. While there are no rules about mowing before aeration, make sure not to cut too tall or too short. Two inches will be enough to even the turf. 

Step 2: Water Your Lawn 

You will need to soak your turf with about one inch of water. The best way to measure how much water is on the lawn is by using a tuna can. Grab an old tuna can, and place it in the middle of the lawn. Once it is full, stop watering. 

Step 3: Mark Obstacles 

Like most homeowners, you probably have a few obstacles on your lawn (children’s or pets’ toys, chairs, or decorations). Before you start with aeration, remove all obstacles. It is also important to mark pipes and sprinklers. Use irrigation flags to mark anything that you might run into while aerating. 

Step 4: Aerate Your Lawn 

Having the right equipment for lawn aeration is essential. Large lawns require gas-powered tools such as slicing aerators or core aerators. For smaller yards, a handheld aerator or aerator shoes will work. 

Most slicing aerators have rotating blades and can cut through grass and thatch. What’s impressive about these tools is that their blades cut deep into the turf’s soil to enhance deep water penetration and improve airflow. Slicing aerators are similar to spike aerators (tools that put holes into the ground), but instead of taking a plug of soil from the ground, they leave small holes for air, water, and nutrients. Between spike and slicing, lawn care experts prefer slicing aerators. 

Core aerators are another option you could use, especially if you have a bigger lawn. While the equipment is expensive, there is always a possibility to rent a professional core aerator from a local lawn care store. A core aerator makes rows with tiny spikes that remove plugs of soil. The aerator leaves the plugs on top of the turf. 

Handheld aerators come in different configurations and options, but most are spike aerators. While using a handheld aerator is simple and effective, it is time-consuming – and exhausting as well. You need to stab the spikes deeply into the turf, pull out, and repeat. 

Aerator shoes are probably a better option. Just strap them over your shoes and walk across your lawn. If you don’t want to buy expensive equipment or invest in aeration tools, consider getting aerator shoes with metal buckles. 

Once you pick the tools, start at one corner of the lawn and aerate until the entire yard has been covered. Avoid going over the lawn more than once, unless the turf is too dry or an area needs extra nutrition. For an area that needs extra attention, go back over an area and aerate in the opposite direction for even better results. Leave the holes, and over time, they will fill with necessary nutrients – water, oxygen, and sunlight. 

Step 5: Fertilize Your Lawn 

After aerating, apply fertilizer to maximize turf growth. Fertilization is necessary throughout the year to stimulate the grass and enrich the soil. Consult with your lawn care company to arrange your next lawn fertilization. 

Step 6: Seed Your Lawn

If it is necessary, reseed your lawn. Spread the seeds evenly across the yard. The plugs produced during aeration combine with the seeds and enhance the turf growing process. 

How to Take Care of Your Lawn After Aeration

Now that you know how to aerate your lawn, you should know what to do to preserve your beautiful yard. After all the hard work you put into lawn aeration, it is essential to take the right steps to support your turf’s growth. 

After the aeration, don’t remove any lumps of sod or dirt; they will disintegrate over time. The turf should remain untouched for a couple of weeks after aeration to ensure the grass gets its nutrients. Water your lawn once per day for one month, and avoid using your mower until your grass is taller than 3 inches. 

Lawn aeration should be considered an essential component of the health and growth of your yard. And understanding the best times to aerate to get the best results, knowing how to select the right rolls to use during the process, and choosing the best process for safely executing aeration are crucial things for homeowners and gardeners to know. 

Using these helpful tips and following the easy steps, you’ll have no trouble aerating your lawn by yourself. However, if you think that lawn aeration is not a job for you or don’t have time to take proper care of your garden, call the Yard Smart professionals at (647) 696-6168. For all your residential and commercial lawn care needs, contact us today, and let us know how we can help.

Matt Higgons

Matt Higgons

It’s been over 40 years since Matt Higgons started his first lawn mowing gig with his closest friend in high school. He used that money to pay for a business degree at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario and had big dreams of starting his own company. He never realized that the very business he would dedicate his life to, was the same one that helped him pay for that education.

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