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Lawn Aeration

Everyone wants a beautiful lawn throughout the season, and in order to achieve that goal, one must follow several lawn maintenance tasks, including proper mowing guidelines, fertilizing according to your soil test, correct watering practices and aeration practices.

What are aeration practices? 

Aeration is a way to give roots an outlet to grow deeper and stronger by allowing air, water and nutrients to penetrate by perforating the soil with small holes.

Does my yard need aeration?

One of the main reasons for aeration of a yard is to decrease compaction. Compacted soils are caused by heavy use from traffic, like pathways of travel from humans and pets or new construction sites where equipment has been used. In those scenarios, aeration will improve circulation of water, air and nutrients. Thatch is another reason to aerate. Thatch is a layer that lays under your grass surface and keeps nutrients from reaching the root system. A common sign of compaction is when the water pools on the surface of your yard after a rain and does not drain easily.

When should aeration be done to lawn?

The best time to aerate depends on what kind of grass is in the lawn. It is best to aerate cool season grasses in the early spring or fall, while warm season grasses should always be aerated in the fall. Aeration works best when the soil is moist.

What kind of tool works best for aeration?

There are two kinds of aerators – one is a spike aerator and the other is a plug aerator. The best tool to use is a plug aerator because they remove a core of grass and soil from the lawn and keep the soil from compacting, where as a spike aerator pokes holes and causes compaction around the holes.

How do I aerate?

Aerations should be done when the soil is moist. If the soil is too dry, wait until after a rain or water your yard the day before. Then, take the aerating machine over the yard multiple times because most machines only cover a small percentage of area on each pass. The soil plugs should be allowed to dry and then broken up over the yard with a rake, allowing for the nutrients removed to go back into the grass.

Additional steps once aerated

Adding required nutrients according to your soil sample results and overseeding with desired grasses can be done along with aeration. In addition, apply some compost as a top dressing and rake it into the holes.

Aeration can provide a number of benefits to the yard. In fact, some improvements can be noticeable in the lawn in just a few weeks. In order to achieve and maintain a beautiful lawn, aeration can be one of the tools you use.

Author: Brian Sparks, WVU Extension Agent – Fayette & Nicholas Counties

Last Reviewed: January 2022