What is Lawn Aeration?

Ken Black

Though you may not think much about lawn aeration, most professional landscapers and groundskeepers will tell you that it is a vitally important part of making sure grass is well taken care of. Over time, soil has the tendency to compact, oftentimes becoming harder and allowing in fewer nutrients. This has potentially damaging effects on the grass and other plants.

Aeration can help an unhealthy lawn.
Aeration can help an unhealthy lawn.

While lawn aeration is recommended for nearly all soil types, it is especially important for very dense, heavily organic soil. Soil that has more of a sand base may not need lawn aeration as much. This type of soil is more porous by nature, which helps the root system breathe more. Still, lawn aeration is recommended every once in a while.

A lawn.
A lawn.

Lawn aeration has a number of benefits. First, healthier growth of grass roots is promoted if the soil is loose. Also, it helps fertilizers get access to the grass to promote a healthier lawn. In addition, it also provides for better drainage and soaking when rain events or irrigation take place.

There are two main methods of lawn aeration, and both usually involve some type of specialized equipment. These aerators work either by spiking the soil or taking a core of the soil. In nearly all cases, taking a core of soil out of the lawn is preferred over simply driving spikes into the yard, which creates small holes by pushing soil down. Creating spikes in the yard only compacts the soil underneath even more.

If considering lawn aeration, the best times of the year to do so are the fall and the spring in most areas. Lawns at this time are coming out of periods of winter and summer dormancy and may experience very fast growth. The robustness with which they grow means the lawn will recover relatively quickly from any trauma imposed with lawn aeration.

If considering seeding the yard, the best time to spread grass seed may be after lawn aeration. Typically, the soil will be ready to accept new seed and promote growth at this time more so than any other. Some machines actually aerate and seed at the same time, saving a step in the process.

Lawn aeration can either be done by hand with no powered equipment, or be done through the use of automated equipment. Many professional companies that do aeration use automated equipment. This makes the job go quicker but the equipment costs substantially more. For those who want to aerate their lawn themselves, automated equipment can often be rented at a home or garden rental store.

A dethatching rake should be used to break up and remove debris from the lawn before aeration.
A dethatching rake should be used to break up and remove debris from the lawn before aeration.

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Discussion Comments


Professionals recommend lawn aeration two times a year. In problem areas it should be done more often.

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