How to Aerate Your Lawn

Property Resources

How to Aerate Your Lawn

Posted by All Metro Service Companies LLC
3 years ago | August 26, 2021

Aerating your lawn is not difficult and it really helps your grass grow lush and thick. There are only a few steps that you have to take. By the end of this article, you will know why you aerate your lawn, the equipment you need to do so, how to aerate your lawn, and aftercare for your aerated lawn.

1)Why do you aerate a lawn?

Roots need water, oxygen, and nutrients. And, as we use our lawn, the soil becomes compacted. A layer of just ¼-½ inch of compacted soil makes it hard for these to reach the roots. Aerating your lawn gives food, water, and nutrients a way to reach the roots that need them.  In fact, the compacted soil will eventually starve the root and kill the grass. This is especially true if you have heavy clay soil that makes it hard for the roots to get deep in the soil and get what they need that way.

Thatch is a layer of decaying organic matter that lays between the soil and the grass. While some thatch helps fertilize the lawn, more is not better. When the thatch gets to be more than ½ inch thick, it blocks water, nutrients, and oxygen from reaching the roots. There are vertical mowers that will remove the thatch from your lawn. Aerating the lawn breaks through that barrier but does not get rid of it.

2)Does your lawn need aerating?

If you push a screwdriver in the soil, it should slide right in. If you meet resistance, your lawn needs aerating. Other indicators include:

  • The lawn gets heavy use by kids, pets, or other ways.
  • If your lawn is part of a new home.
  • If your lawn dries out easily and has a spongy feel (probably too much thatch).
  • If you laid sod and it is now established, but still has a layer of soil between the roots and the ground.

3)When do I aerate my lawn?

You want to aerate right before or during the time of peak lawn growth. This does two things; it keeps the aeration from overly stressing the grass and it allows the grass to quickly grow into the spaces you create when you aerate it. For northern cool-season grasses, do the aeration in early fall. For warm-season grasses do the aeration in late spring or very early summer.

4)What do I use to aerate my lawn?

To aerate your lawn, you should use a plug aerator. There are three general categories of aerator. The first is called spike aerators. It is basically a pair of sandals you strap on your feet with long spikes coming out of the bottom of them. As you walk, you punch holes in the ground. This leaves the soil in the ground and compresses the soil next to the hole by shoving that dirt aside to form the holes.

You can buy or rent a slicing aerator, which has rotating blades that cut channels through the grass, thatch, and soil. This leaves the soil in the ground, but does open pathways to oxygen, water, and nutrients in the soil without compaction.

Core or plug aerators are generally the aerator of choice with professional lawn service companies. This aerator uses rows of hollow times that remove plugs of soil and deposit them on the lawn. Those plugs then dry out, break apart, and filter down to the grass with some needed nutrients. The holes left by the plugs are channels for oxygen, nutrients, and water to get to the grass roots, and they do not compress adjacent soil.

5)Where can I get an aerator?

Equipment rental stores and some lawn and garden stores rent them out for a reasonable price. The machines are heavy, so you will need help getting it in and out of your vehicle. Make sure you rent the aerator long enough to do the lawn and clean up the aerator before you return it to the rental store.

6)What do I do to my lawn to get ready to aerate it?

The day before you aerate the lawn, water it with an inch of water. You can set out old tuna cans or cat food cans in your lawn. Run the sprinklers until there is an inch of water in the cans. This makes it soft enough for the tines to penetrate about 2 inches into the soil without it being so soft the machine makes ruts.

It is wise to buy a set of garden flags and mark sprinkler heads and other things in the lawn you can’t move but don’t want to tear up. Make your pass around these items far enough away that they will not be damaged by the aerator but try not to leave any more space than absolutely necessary.

7)How do I aerate my lawn?

You walk behind the aerator and go across your lawn like you were mowing. When you have finished, turn and do it again perpendicular to the first time you use it. Now, use it again on compacted areas, such as kids’ play areas and paths through the lawn. You can also run it over the grass again several times to make sure there are plugs over as much of the lawn as possible.

8)How do I care for my lawn after I aerate it?

Let the plugs of soil dry about halfway. Run the mower over them as if you were mowing. This will break them apart, so they won’t be visible anymore. Water your lawn normally and fertilize on the regular schedule. By aerating your lawn right before or during the peak growing season for your grass, it will soon grow to cover the holes in the ground. If you plan to reseed your lawn, you can do that now to thicken the lawn.

9)How do I get help aerating my lawn?

Contact All Metro Service Companies, LLC. The simple truth is that if you cannot mow your lawn, you probably can’t aerate it, either. If you find that your time is more valuable doing something else, we can also help. We can aerate your lawn for you as a stand-alone service or as part of managing your lawn and landscape. Call All Metro Service Companies, LLC at (763)789-4788 today and we will help you keep your lawn beautiful and healthy.

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