Why And How To Aerate Lawns This Fall – Yard Maintenance 101

So just exactly why is it so important to aerate lawns?

Aerating is one of the most over-looked tasks when it comes to keeping lawns growing strong and healthy.

Aerating is the process of puncturing the soil below to create open pockets. These pockets allow air, water, nutrients, and even additional grass seed a path below the usually crowded and tight surface.

aerate lawns
Aerating the lawn creates pockets for air, water, and nutrients to reach and feed the soil below

It is vital in helping to loosen heavy or clay based soils, as well as keeping all soils from becoming compacted.

When And How To Aerate Lawns

The When

The best time to aerate lawns is in the fall or early spring.

These are periods where the lawn is not in full-growth mode, making it both easier to perform the task, and allowing the lawn time to recover from the process.

Fall and spring are the best times to aerate your lawn.

Attempting to aerate in the summer months can make it hard for the tines to break through the thicker lawn growth. Wintertime poses the obvious issues of frozen ground.

The How

There are two basic types of aerators. One version slits the soil in place, while the other removes a small plug of soil. The plug version will either deposit the soil on top of the lawn, or collect it in a bin.

Both the slit and plug options work well in opening up the soil, although the plug method performs the task a bit more thoroughly.

There are many available options for both methods.

aerate lawns
A tine-style aerator slits the soil to create openings for air, water and nutrients to enter.

For slit-style aerators, you can choose from hand-held, self-propelled, and pull-behind models that attach to your garden tractor.

There are even shoe-based models that aerate as you walk or push mow your lawn! See : Aerator Spike Shoes

For soil-plug styles, there are both self-propelled and pull-behind units.

Selecting the right option comes down to the size of the yard, and your personal preference for either the plugs or slit styles.

aerate lawns
These foot spike aerate your lawn while you walk over it!

Although aerators can be purchased, for most, it is more economical to rent. Most local tool rental facilities carry a wide range of options to choose from.

A Few Do’s and Do Not’s When Aerating Lawns

The Do’s

Keep the lawn from heavy traffic the first few days after aerating. This allows the plugs to break down naturally, and not compressed by foot traffic into the turf.

Over-seeding right after aerating is always a great idea. New seed, broadcast over the surface of the soil settles down into the slits or holes made from aeration.

This seed has an easier time getting established as it is protected down in the voids left from the tines or plugs.

aerate lawns
Overseeding with a quality grass seed after aerating is a great practice. It helps to create thicker, more lush lawns.

The Do Nots

New lawns, whether planted by seed or sod should not be aerated the first year. These lawns are too fragile to withstand the plugging process and can easily be damaged.

Never aerate when the soil is extremely wet or water-logged. The process can actually create more harm than good. Muddy soil can be torn, and the plugging process can be hindered.

For more great lawn care tips – see our article 5 Must Do Fall Lawn Care Tips. This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners – for gardeners!

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