What Does Lawn Aeration Do To Your Lawn?

HomeLawn & Yard CareWhat Does Lawn Aeration Do To Your Lawn?

What can be the secret to a luxurious lawn? To get a beautiful, lush, and an immaculate green lawn, you need to observe a strict lawn maintenance routine.

Proper mowing, watering, fertilizing plus aeration are some of the vital lawn care activities.

Now, many of you seem okay with the others but I occasionally get asked what does lawn aeration do to your lawn?

“What is it?”, “Is it necessary?”, “Can I do it next season?”… and questions of the sort.

And so I decided we need to talk about this indispensable soil improvement process- once and for all.

Let’s start with the basics:

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Lawn aeration is the process of puncturing the soil to allow air, nutrients, and water to penetrate the roots.

Your main goal is to break up compacted soil or deep thatch layer.

This is because such soil is highly impregnable. And this means that water, nutrients, and air may no longer be reaching an important part of your plants- the roots.

And when your grass plants are starving, your dream of having the most beautiful, lush and green lawn remains just that- a dream.

Causes of soil compaction and how to loosen compacted soil lawn

Any movement on your lawn may slowly lead to solidifying of the soil. For example, as you mow, you apply extra pressure to the soil

The same thing happens as your children play in the backyard.

Still, if you are fond of driving on your lawn, the weight of your car will certainly harden the surface.

Heavy rainfall, as well as low spots that fail to drain well, may also cause compaction.

And as we saw earlier on, consolidated soil is hard to infiltrate.

Also, remember that too much thatch hampers the movement of water and air

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What Does Lawn Aeration Do To Your Lawn? – Benefits Of Lawn Aeration

Aerating your lawn has numerous benefits.

Here are the most obvious:

  • Worms become more active thus helping to decompose thatch.
  • Water, nutrients, and oxygen will reach all corners.
  • Your crops grow healthier roots.
  • Rainfall and irrigation water will penetrate deeply.
  • Fertilizer and pesticideswill flow into desired areas.

Signs that you need to Aerate your lawn (when to aerate your lawn)

So, how can you be sure that your grass needs aeration?

You will need to be on the lookout for the telltale signs.

These are the clearest signs:

  • Water puddles form on your lawn after raining
  • Presence of ultra-heavy clay soil
  • Thatch layer looks thicker than normal
  • Your grass looks thin, patchy or discolored despite your best efforts

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How to tell if a lawn needs aerating?

If not convinced, you can opt for a simple test

This is how you inspect your soil:

Test A: Using a Shovel, a Screwdriver (or a pencil)

Push either a screwdriver or a pencil into the soil.

If your garden is compacted, it will barely move.

Now what remains is to actually confirm it truly needs aeration.

So, do this:

Take a shovel and try to sink it underground- up to around half the blade

If you succeed, your soil is okay.

Otherwise, if it won’t budge, consider aerating it.

Test B: The Dig Test

Another way is to first dig up some soil (and grass).

In this case, you want to check the condition of the grass roots and the level of thatching.

You do this:

After digging up, first look for thatch.

Usually, you should notice a layer of thatch between soil and the grass blades.

If this layer happens to exceed one-half inch in thickness, you will need to aerate.


Measure the depth of your grass roots.

If they extend up to 4-6 inches deep, then your soilis not compressed.

 However, if the roots are only 1-2 inches deep, it’s time to aerate

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Best way to aerate your lawn

There are 2 main methods of aerating.

Let’s go through them:

  • Core / plug Aerating

Here, the aerator excavates a core (or plug) of soil by drilling hollow tubes into the turf.

Extracting of cores is recommended for deeply compacted soils

  • Solid Tine (Spike) Aerator

In this method, the core isn’t removed.

Instead, your aerator will punch solid holes using solid metallic spikes.

This is a basic way of relieving minor compaction and is less effective.

Types of lawn aerators

You have the option of using manual or mechanized aerating equipment.

Have a look:

  1. Machine Aerators

Motorized aerators come in two forms.

  • Smaller Machine Aerators

These are targeted at small and medium sized lawns.

They are pushed just like lawn mowers.

  • Larger Machine Aerators

Built for larger fields, these have to be pulled with a tractor being the most convenient pulling aid.

They are extremely effective but cost more.

We have reviewed the best  tow behind aerators in the market today here. Have a read it will come in hardy one day.

 2. Manual Aerators

As well as mechanical aerators, you can also go for manual methods. These techniques are mainly for small gardens and are very cost effective

  •  Hand Operated Aerators

Hand operated tools such as a pitchfork or a pitchfork-like tool (having hollow tines) can also work.

For instance, the hollow tine pitchfork aerator removes plugs and is fairly effective though tiresome

  • Shoes / Sandals as Aeration Tool

You can also use aerating sandals (shoes) especially those with long spikes underneath.

You put them on and walk around (in an organized way).They will be punching holes with every step.

You can consider wearing them when mowing to get better results.

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What’s the Ideal Time To Perform Core Aeration? (Best time to aerate a lawn)

If you are growing cool-season grasses, do this in early fall.

But if you have warm-season grasses, the recommended time for plug aeration is mid-spring all the way to early summer.

Anyway, it’s always good to time it during the growing season as your grass will have a chance to heal and spread to the open areas where soil plugs were removed.

How frequently should you aerate?

To decide how frequently you should do it, you need to answer 2 questions:

What type of grass are you growing? Then, which is the dominant type of soil in your lawn?
Now, if your yard has heavy clay soil, aerate twice a year.

Sand-based lawns can do with one aeration per year.

However, your lawn can be busier or fairly free meaning you may need to aerate more or fewer times.

When completely unsure, just perform the aeration test. You will know when to aerate.

Tips on Aerating Your Yard

Here are some tips to help you aerate like a pro.

  • Ensure the soil is wet

Aerating bone dry soil can be frustrating.

So, to make it more enjoyable, water your lawn a day before. Alternatively, you can aerate after a rain shower

  • Multiple Passes are Essential

Aerators cover only a fraction of the surface per pass. So, to make sure 100% aeration, pass severally over the most affected areas.

  • Leave Plug to Dry before Breaking Them Up

So that your lawn can have a uniform, immaculate appearance, allow excavated soil plugs to dry before breaking them up.

  • Don’t forget your other lawn care practices

After aerating, continue with your lawn care routine. So, properly fertilize, mow and water.

That’s the only way to ensure your lawn reaches its full potential

Final Words

Aeration is very beneficial if you will ever have the lawn you have always dreamed of.

It will help break up blocked soil particles and allow crucial nutrients, water and oxygen to reach your plants’ roots.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated or that costly especially for small lawns.

Hope I have answered the question “what does lawn aeration do to the lawn” and other questions you had, if not leave a comment, I will be happy to dig it up.

So, just be committed and then wait to enjoy the luscious lawn.

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