How to Aerate Your Lawn

Aeration can help you see a greener and healthier lawn this year. Our aeration guide will teach you the best ways to aerate your lawn. Adobe Stock, © Dziurek

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Is your grass looking a little unhealthy? If so, it might be time to aerate your lawn. Aeration strategically introduces holes into your lawn to reduce the buildup of compacted soil. This practice allows the roots of your grass seeds to take in more water and nutrients from the surrounding soil, helping it grow healthier and more effectively. We’ll show you how to aerate your lawn this year to get your lawn looking its very best. 

Keep in mind that it’s possible for you to go out and buy all of the equipment to aerate your own lawn, but putting that much of an investment into equipment you will likely only need once per year may be unrealistic. To save yourself that expense, it might be best to turn to a professional lawn care company. One can come out with professional equipment and get the job done at a fraction of the price of buying the equipment yourself.

In this article:

If you need aeration, we recommend you hire TruGreen, our top pick across the country. TruGreen is a full-service lawn care company providing core aeration services in 48 out of 50 states.

To get your custom quote from TruGreen, give them a call today at 1-877-386-6512 or fill out a simple online form

How Do I Aerate My Lawn? 

Aeration is a very simple process. It involves poking holes in a pattern around your lawn. Those holes allow for more air to move around near the roots of your grass. It also allows for better drainage, more water absorption, and increased nutrients to reach your grass. It may seem too simple to be effective, but it really works and helps increase the health of your lawn. If you don’t aerate your lawn regularly, you might notice that your grass is struggling to grow or fill in brown patches.

There are a few steps that go into the aeration of your lawn. Here is a breakdown of how the job goes.

  • Prepare — Begin by watering your lawn. You want the grass and soil to be wet with at least one inch of water so that it is easier for the aerator to go over the compacted soil.
  • Run the aerator — Next, run the aerator over your lawn. This machine will poke holes in the lawn. You should only go over each part of the lawn once, so make sure to keep track of each line the aerator runs along.
  • Apply compost — Once your lawn is aerated, add compost into the soil. This will boost the nutrient levels and help grass seed take root and grow in healthy.
  • Apply grass seed — Once your lawn is properly aerated and composted, you need to put down the right type of grass seed for your yard. The type of seed you need depends on where the grass should be growing (shade, full sun, partial sun, etc.).
  • Apply fertilizer — In order to ensure your grass seed grows as strong and healthy as possible, apply fertilizer to the soil. This will allow the grass roots to absorb the nutrients as the grass grows, helping it look and feel nice and thick.

How To Tell if You Need to Aerate Your Lawn

If you notice any of the following signs in your lawn, it might be time to aerate.

  • Your lawn has soil layering — If you see several layers in your soil, this is a good indicator that you need to aerate. If you notice a thatch layer or a layer of grass that is dead with live shoots coming up, you also need to aerate your lawn.
  • Your lawn feels spongy —  This is common with heavy clay, as that tends to get compacted more than traditional topsoil would. If your lawn feels spongy, it may not be draining properly. 
  • Your lawn is part of a recently constructed home — Many new construction properties need to have their lawns aerated. Many big machines were going back and forth across the soil when the house was built. This often leaves a layer of compacted soil that is several inches thick.
  • Your lawn dries out easily —  If your lawn dries out right away after watering or rain, then you should have your lawn aerated. This often means that the water does not have time to reach the roots, which is going to lead to lawn thatch problems.

Why Do I Need To Aerate My Lawn? 

Many things can lead to compacted soil that requires aeration. Simple foot traffic is enough to compact the soil a little bit at a time. If you have kids or animals that regularly run across the grass, this can speed up the process. 

Another problem that can lead to needing aeration is simply having clay soil. This type of soil is less likely to drain properly and lead to compaction issues. If you do not rake up the thatch layer of your grass in the spring, this can also cause issues that require aeration to fix.

What is Aeration?  

Aeration allows the soil of your yard to breathe. When you aerate your lawn, you poke holes into the soil and break up compacted soil. The new holes created allow water to flow and nutrients to move around and into the soil as necessary. It keeps lawns and landscaping healthier by making it easier for your plants and grasses to take in the nutrients they need to grow deeper and stronger roots.

There are two main types of aeration: spike and plug. They are used for different reasons, depending on the condition of your lawn and the size of the area you want to fix.

  • Plug/core aeratingPlug aerating involves running an aeration machine over your lawn and removing multiple plugs of soil. These plugs are left on the lawn when the aerator is done passing over your lawn. This is ideal for larger areas that need aerating because the plugs that remain can break back down into necessary soil for your yard.
  • Spike aerating — Spike aerating involves pushing spikes down into the soil without removing any soil or sod in the process. You push holes into the lawn to allow better air and water circulation. This is usually used on smaller areas and is often done with smaller tools, such as a pitchfork.

When Should I Aerate My Lawn?

The right time to aerate your lawn depends on where you live and the types of grasses you grow. The goal is to aerate as early in the growing season as possible. If you are trying to aerate cool season grasses, you want to aerate in the early fall. If you want to aerate warm season grasses, you should aerate in the early spring. 

You never want to aerate during times where your lawn is dormant. This could damage the grass and prevent it from growing back. On average, you will aerate your lawn once each year. However, if your soil is clay or is heavily compacted, you may need to do a second aeration each year. If you aren’t sure which type of grass you have, you should strongly consider hiring a lawn service company to handle your aeration for you.

Why Professional Aeration May Be Right For You

While you could aerate your lawn yourself, it’s going to require a lot of time and effort. Instead, consider hiring a lawn care company to handle the job for you. Lawn care companies have already invested in the equipment and products needed to do the job. This means that you only pay for the time it takes for them to do it.

You get the benefits of an amazing-looking lawn to enjoy throughout the year without spending hours working on your property and thousands of dollars on professional-grade tools. Your lawn care company can also help determine which type of grass you have and tell you the best time of year to aerate.

Top Recommended National Provider for Aeration: TruGreen

We recommend TruGreen for your aeration and lawn care needs. TruGreen is a full-service lawn care company providing a wide range of professional and affordable lawn maintenance services. 

To learn more or to get a free price estimate, give them a call today at 1-877-386-6512 or fill out an easy online form here

The company currently offers two distinct plans that include aeration services:

  • TruComplete Lawn Care Plan — The TruComplete plan includes one aeration and one overseed visit per year. It also includes eight general service visits per year, fertilization, targeted pest control services, pre-emergent and targeted weed control, and an analysis of your soil’s pH level and quality.
  • TruSignature Lawn Care Plan — The TruSignature plan is TruGreen’s most comprehensive offering. It includes one aeration and one overseed visit per year, plus eight general service visits. It also includes seven tree service visits per year, fertilization, targeted pest control, pre-emergent and targeted weed control, and an analysis of your soil.

Each one of TruGreen’s plans include services performed by lawn care professionals and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to aerate your lawn?

The best way to aerate your lawn will depend on your lawn size. If you have a larger lawn, plug aeration might be right for you. If you have a smaller lawn, spike aeration provides a manageable way to introduce holes to your soil. 

How do I aerate my lawn manually?

If you have a small lawn, you can manually aerate your lawn with a sharp tool like a pitchfork using the spike method. If you have a larger lawn, you’ll usually need to invest in a special manual aeration tool to effectively aerate your yard.

Is it necessary to aerate a lawn? 

Definitely. Aerating your lawn breaks up compacted soil and allows your roots to take in water, oxygen, and nutrients more effectively. This means that you’ll see a healthier and thicker lawn throughout the year.

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