Having a luscious, green lawn is a part of pride for many homeowners and a key part of curb appeal for many homes. There are many ways to care for and build a healthy lawn, some more time consuming or expensive than others. A simple way you can keep your lawn looking fresh and healthy is to aerate it. Aerating your lawn is a process that helps your lawn breathe, which ultimately allows it to grow better and thrive.
If you’re new to lawn aeration and are wondering how you can do it yourself or when the best time to do it is, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about the aeration process, and how you can learn to aerate your lawn yourself.
What is Lawn Aeration?
Lawn aeration is when you make holes, cuts, or slices in the soil to help nutrients, water, and air penetrate the grassroots. This helps your grass better absorb what it needs to grow thicker and stronger. Lawn aeration is a simple process that you can do yourself with a pitchfork or spading fork, shoe spikes, or with other gardening tools. You can also hire a landscaper or lawn care company to do this for you. Most will have the tools and know-how to do the job.
Why You Should Aerate Your Lawn
One of the biggest reasons people choose to aerate their lawns is to alleviate soil compaction. When soil becomes compacted, it limits the flow of air, water, and nutrients which are all required for a healthy lawn. Having compacted soil can negatively affect the health and look of your lawn by limiting access to these essential resources.
Another reason why lawn aeration is so important is to limit thatch buildup. Thatch is the organic layer of material that’s beneath the lawn. This includes stems, shoots, and roots that grow between the green vegetation and the surface of the soil. When your turf creates debris quicker than it can be broken down, that’s when thatch buildup starts to occur. The problem begins when the thatch buildup is too thick and holds excess water. Due to the excess water, oxygen can’t reach the roots, which negatively impacts the soil. Your lawn can’t thrive without oxygen — which is why aeration is necessary if you notice thatch buildup.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
If you don’t notice any obvious problems with your lawn, you can aerate it every two to three years to keep it healthy and green. For lawn thatch issues, it’s best to aerate your lawn in late winter, spring, or fall.
The type of grass you have will dictate when is best to aerate your lawn. For warm-season grass, aerate your lawn in late spring or early summer. For cool-season grass, fall, or February to March are the best times to aerate your lawn.
Avoid aerating your lawn in the early spring, as your lawn will create the perfect environment for weeds to grow and thrive. Late spring will keep the weeds at bay should you have to aerate your lawn during the season.
Tools to Aerate Your Lawn
To aerate your lawn, you first need to pick the right tools. Having the right tools that work for you is vital in ensuring you properly aerate your lawn. Here are the most popular tools you can use to DIY your lawn.
Spike aerators create holes in the ground with a spike-like tine. Some people choose to use spike aerator sandals, with the spikes attached to the bottom of the shoes to aerate the lawn. With this aerator, no soil is removed and there is a potential for water to close the holes.
Slice aerators have blades that rotate and slice through the lawn into the soil. While slice aerators leave the soil in the grown, there is still space for air to get through but it’s important to be mindful that water can close up the pathways.
Plug or core aerator
Plug or core aerators use a manual or motorized lawn aerator machine. The hollow tines remove plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn, which leaves cylindrical shaped cores on the turf which you may have seen before on lawns.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
Once you’ve chosen the right tool to aerate your lawn with, it’s time to get working. Here is how you can aerate your lawn at home.
1. Rent the lawn aerator
Rather than spending money on a lawn aerator, you can rent one from a home improvement store, garden center, or rental store since you only need to do the process every two to three years. This will help you save money for other home investments you might need to make in the future. You can certainly buy one, but I found it not worth it given the infrequent need to aerate your lawn.
2. Water the lawn
To prepare the lawn for aeration, make sure to water your lawn the day before you plan to aerate it. Avoid watering the lawn too much and making it muddy, as this will make aerating it much more difficult to do. Just give it a quick dose of water to ensure the grass is well hydrated.
3. Aerate the lawn
Using the tool you’ve rented, aerate your lawn. Ensure you aerate the entire lawn and that you haven’t missed any hard-to-reach areas. Walk over the lawn a few times to check that it’s aerated properly and throughout the property.
4. Water and overseed the lawn post-aeration
After you’ve aerated the lawn, it’s important that you water it every two to three days afterward. Then, seed and fertilize your lawn. This is one of the best times to seed your lawn as there are fresh pathways for the lawn to absorb the seeds and fertilizer.
Hiring a Professional
While lawn aeration is typically a simple process you can do yourself, there are certain circumstances where it could be beneficial to hire a professional to do the job. If you have thatch buildup that’s ¾ of an inch thick or more, you may want to call a professional and hire a lawn service to do it for you.
It could also be a good idea to get professional help if you’ve never aerated your lawn before and are nervous to do it for the first time. Watching a professional do it can help you understand how the process works and helps you learn how to do it properly next time.
For your lawn to grow thick and healthy, it’s important that it’s getting the nourishment, airflow, and water it needs to grow strong and luscious. With this guide, you’ll be able to easily aerate your lawn and provide it with the conditions it needs to thrive.