Aerating Your Lawn
This is my site Written by Geoff on October 1, 2003 – 5:55 pm

Aeration can be an important part of any lawn program. It allows water and oxygen to reach the grass roots. We only recommend aerating in the Fall, in cool weather lawns, for best results. Not only will you pull better plugs, in the Fall, but there will be little weed seeds blowing around to germinate in the exposed holes. Never aerate during dry summer months as you will not only get poor core penetration, but could damage an already stressed lawn. 

Aeration involves the removal of small soil cores from a lawn, roughly 3/4 inch in diameter by 3 inches long. These soil plugs will break down and add nutrients back to the soil. Unless your soil is heavy clay, aerating need only be done every 8 – 10 years. If you have heavy soil, your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic, or you notice a lot of standing water after a rain, you probably need to aerate annually. 

If you cannot decide if your lawn needs aerating, it probably does not at this time. In our opinion, aerating is an often overused lawn maintenance tool. It is also often oversold by aggressive lawn maintenance companies trying to earn a profit in an otherwise dead time of year. 

Power aerators are available, to the homeowner, at most rental stores. These machines use a rotating tillerlike action that pushes the corers into the soil and extracts small plugs, as the machines pull you forward. Avoid aerators that only pokes holes in the lawn without removing plugs, as they do little good and could actually add to soil compaction. 

Since aerating requires specialized equipment and is very hard work we recommend the homeowner contract out the work to a professional lawn service. They used large aerator, requiring a truck and several helpers. With these machines, the corers are vertically plunged into the turf to extract a sizable plug. 

Aerators penetrate your lawn best when the soil is moist, so you will need to water your lawn the day before aerating, unless it rains. When aerating, make several passes in both directions across your lawn. You can break up the cores with a rake if you want, but it is not necessary. 

Right after aerating is a good time to top dress your lawn and over-seed. Again, this is up to you and depends on how much time and money you want to put into your lawn. This is strictly optional and no matter what, aerating alone will increase your lawn’s health and vigor. No matter if you choose to top dress and over seed or not, water the lawn immediately after aerating.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 5:56 pm UTC

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