Why Lawn Aeration? A guide to the benefits

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When your lawn starts to look yellower than your sunflowers, you may need to step in to help the grass absorb more water. There are several different techniques you can use, one of which is through lawn aeration, a lawn care method sure to bring back the color to your beautiful lawn.

Lawn aeration helps your lawn’s grass to accept air, water, and other nutrients more easily. After aerating your lawn has less stress and will appear healthier. Lawn aeration also helps your grass to grow more resilient to other issues that might cause extra stress or harm to your lawn.

Before you start poking holes in your lawn, take a moment to look at our complete guide to all the benefits. In this article, you will learn not only about what it actually means to aerate your lawn, but both the benefits and negatives, how to aerate your lawn yourself, steps you can take after aerating your lawn, and alternatives to lawn aeration as well! Now, let’s “dig in” and learn how we can better care for our yards!

What is Lawn Aeration?

While the name might imply otherwise, aerating your lawn does not mean that you are going to start pumping oxygen into the grass. However, the purpose of lawn aeration is to help deliver more oxygen to the roots of the grass allowing your lawn to not only be, but look healthier as well!

Lawn aeration allows the roots of your lawn to receive more oxygen by punching a series of holes throughout the yard.

Now your first question might be, “why does my lawn need more oxygen?” and “will punching holes in my yard actually benefit my grass?”

The simple answer is that the thatch of your lawn may be getting too thick and essentially choking the grass’s root from absorbing the needed amounts of oxygen.

For those who are unaware, the thatch is simply the layer of loose dirt and debris that lies between the rich soil and the tops our grass. The thatch of your lawn may trap moisture inside itself keeping the water from reaching the roots of not only your grass but the other plants growing in your yard.

By aerating your lawn, you allow moisture, air, and other nutrients to get deeper into the soil and break down that pesky layer of thatch. If you want to get the greenest lawn as possible, you need to get the nutrients to bypass the debris layer and to reach the roots.

So when should you aerate you begin aerating your lawn?

While the time of year you should aerate your lawn depends on what type of grass you having growing for your lawn (cool-season grass and warm-season grass) follow this rule of thumb for when to aerate your yard:

The best time to aerate your lawn is either during the months of spring or fall. It is typically during this time of the year that the thatch of your lawn begins to thicken and needs to be broken down to avoid moisture build-up and fungus growth.

Not sure what type of grass you have growing on your lawn? You can see if your grass needs to be aerated with one simple (and easy too) test! Simply take a screwdriver and poke a hole in the areas of your yard that you are worried about.

When you stick the screwdriver into the ground it should go in smoothly. If for the first few inches it is difficult to insert the screwdriver, this means your lawn is compacted. You will then need to loosen up the surface layers of your lawn with aeration.

With a little bit of practice and a keen eye, you should be able to tell when your lawn needs to be aerated in order to thrive more.

Some signs to look for are areas where water collects in puddles after either a rainstorm or after watering your lawn. When water begins collecting in areas of your yard, they are an obvious indicator of either a thatch build-up or soil compaction.

The Benefits of Lawn Aeration

While poking holes in your lawn may seem like a rather silly way to care for your yard, doing so comes with loads of benefits.

As we discussed, aerating your lawn allows more oxygen, water, and other minerals to absorb into the ground. The extra nutrients will help your grass grow taller and greener.

Not only will your grass appear healthier above ground, but proper lawn aeration can result in healthy, stronger roots too! With stronger roots, your grass will be more capable of withstanding more extreme temperatures and droughts.

Now you might be wondering, how can aerating your yard possibly help your lawn withstand a drought? Well, by aerating your lawn it allows the roots to more easily absorb what little water is available, therefore helping it to survive the heat of a drought!

Another benefit of aerating your lawn is that doing so helps break down the thatch quicker. If the thatch of your lawn gets too thick, then it will block moisture from reaching the roots of your plants and can lead to mushroom growth.

Keep the debris from building up in your thatch by aerating your lawn, especially during the moist seasons of the year.

Do you have a portion of your lawn that gets compacted down by lots of food traffic? Help get rid of the yellow, packed down areas with lawn aeration!

These heavier trafficked areas will need to be aerated more often than the other portions of the yard in order to help alleviate the stress of being walked upon frequently.

Watch the following video in order to see exactly how lawn aeration benefits your lawn!

Now that you know all the positive effects lawn aeration has on the upkeep of your yard, I am sure you are wondering what if any, negatives aeration can have on your lawn.

While lawn aeration can have plenty of positive effects on your lawn, there is really only one negative effect it will have on your yard. The one negative is that after poking holes throughout your lawn, the plugs left behind are often very unsightly.

If you are worried about what guests at your next barbeque will think about the dirt plugs all over the lawn, be sure to wait a week or two after aerating before throwing your next springtime bash!

Before Aerating Your Lawn: the first step

You should never just walk out and decide that day you are going to aerate your lawn. In fact, preparing to aerate your lawn should begin at the very least the day before aerating.

The first step in the aeration process is to mow your lawn. This step should take place around two or three days before you plan on going over your lawn with the aerator.

Once you have moved your lawn, be sure to water it thoroughly one to two days prior to aeration. When doing so, be sure not to overwater as to create areas of mud. This will cause the aerated to get stuck and your yard to be torn apart more than it needs to be.

If you have any landscape lighting, automatic sprinklers, water lines, rocks, or other fixtures throughout your lawn, you will want to know exactly where these are located before you begin aerating.

Go through your lawn looking for any of these objects and mark them with either brightly colored lawn paint or spray paint. It is suggested to leave a two or three inch buffer space around any wiring or sprinklers so as not to damage them with the aerator.

As well as knowing where there are obstacles in your yard, look for areas that are in more need than others of aeration.

Now that you know exactly where you need to go in your yard and where you need to avoid, map out a route that you will take. This route should go over each area at least once, but preferably twice.

Now that you have completed all the prep work of lawn aeration, you are able to pull out the aerator and begin!

How to Aerate your Lawn

Digging every single small hole yourself to aerate your lawn would not only be tiresome, but impractical as well. In order to help you get the job done faster and more efficiently, there are several different types of lawn aerators designed for home use.

The three different aerators available to you are Spike Aerators, Slicing Aerators, and Core or Plug Aerators.

The most commonly used aerator is the core or plug aerator. This machine is the one that leaves the small dirt clods or “plugs” all over the yard. It operates by rotating hollow tines over your yard, scooping out sections of the grass and soil, and leaving them on the surface to break down.

A slicing aerator rotates a series of blades over your yard simply cutting an easier path for water and nutrients to enter. With this method of lawn aeration, you can avoid having the unsightly clods all over your yard and still be able to help your yard get more nutrients!

The final type of lawn aeration, spike aeration, operates simply by poking holes into the ground repeatedly. This method also leaves the soil in the ground in stead of pulling it out to the surface.

If you do not want to take the time to run a spike machine over your lawn, you can try wearing spike sandals!

Simply attach some small garden spikes to the bottom of your gardening shoes and while you do your other yard work, you can aerate your lawn. Just be sure not to step on anyone’s foot!

Another method of spike aeration you can do with garden tools you already have at home is using a tilling rake! Stab the rake into the ground, making sure it gets down far enough, wiggle it around, pull it out and move on to the next space. This method is only suggested if you have a very small amount of grass to care for as it would take an extremely long time to complete over a large area.

While spike aeration is the easiest form of lawn aeration to complete, it can also be the most ineffective. Since the spikes are only poking into the ground, they actually compact the soil around them making it only harder for your grass to get air.

After you have chosen what type of lawn aerator you are going to be operating in your yard, read the instruction manual, follow the preparation steps listed in the section above, and then run your aerator over your yard.

Be prepared for a workout, while operated in a similar way to a lawn mower, a lawn aerator will put up more of a fight.

Watch the video below to see exactly how to use a lawn aerator on your grass!

I mentioned before that you should run your aerator over the lawn at least one or two times. Why is this? In order to properly aerate your lawn, the yard care experts suggest at least 20 to 40 holes per square foot.

There are a few thoughts you should keep in mind when aerating your lawn.

First, you should never run a machine aerator over your grass if it is within one year of planting or seeding. At this point, the grass and its roots are still too fragile to withstand something as forceful as an aerator.

Also, be sure not to aerate immediately after heavy rainfall. If the soil of your yard is too wet, it can stick in the aerator, causing it to compact your yard’s soil even more.

After Aerating your Lawn: the next step

Now that you have run the aerator over your yard, you are most likely wondering, “what next?”

There is no need to fear, there are plenty of other things you can do after aerating your yard. After all, a healthy, well cared for lawn takes lots of time and hard work to achieve.

First, if you used a core or plug aerator, simply leave the plugs on the surface of your lawn. While you might be tempted to go around collecting these plugs to make your yard look cleaner, they will break down and actually return nutrients back to the grass!

Right after aerating your yard is the perfect time to not only fertilize but to reseed your lawn as well!

By giving your lawn a little extra nutrients right off the bat, it will allow it to reap the benefits of lawn aeration faster!

When reseeding your lawn, be sure to target areas that appear to be either a little thinner or simply lighter colored than the rest of the grass. This process is called overseeding since you are seeding new grass right over the older grass. Doing this right after aerating your lawn will allow the new seeds to grow in a nutrient rich environment creating a thick, full lawn!

Watch this video to learn the best way to overseed your lawn!

In order to fertilize and seed evenly, try using a calibrated seed spreader for your lawn! We suggest the Scotts Turf Builder Spreader. This seed spreader comes with an edge guard in order to keep grass seeds from making their way into your landscaping or sidewalk.

Get one of your own today by clicking here!

Once you have aerated your lawn, be sure to maintain a regular watering schedule and to keep up with all of your other yard care tasks to keep your lawn looking and feeling pristine.

It is important to keep in mind that after aerating your lawn, there may not be an immediately noticeable change. In fact, you may not see the effects of lawn aeration until the second or third time you do it. Just remember that the benefits of lawn aeration start effecting your lawn immediately whether you see it or not!

The Best Home Aerators

If you want something more professional to aerate your yard with rather than some spikes attached to your shoes or a tilling fork, take a look at these lawn aerators designed for use at home!

Keep in mind that each different kind of lawn aerator will have slightly different effects on your lawn. Be sure to choose the best type of aerator for your lawn by reading about their different effects in the section above!

Spike Aerators

Goplus Rolling Lawn Aerator

The Goplus Rolling Lawn Aerator is so easy to use, even the kids can help aerate the yard!

This lawn aerator is 18 inches wide with a 50 inch long handle and weighs only 8 pounds. No matter what kind of soil you have for your lawn (dirt, sand, or clay) the Goplus Rolling Lawn Aerator is sure to help your grass grow better in it.

18 inches wide with a 50 inch handle attachment, the Goplus Rolling Lawn Aerator weighs only 8 pounds! No matter what type of soil you have for your lawn (clay, dirt, or sand) this hand pushed lawn aerator is capable of accomplishing the task you need it to do.

Start aerating your lawn with the Goplus Rolling Lawn Aerator by ordering one for your yard here!

Agri-Fab Tow Spiker / Seeder / Spreader

Now, this really is the ultimate gardening tool. If you are going to be maintaining the grass in your yard, the AgriFab Tow Spiker / Seeder / Spreader is an absolute necessity.

As we mentioned above, after aerating your yard you should overseed and fertilize. With this tool, you can aerate, seed, and fertilize all at the same time making your yard work feel like a breeze!

The AgriFab Tow Spiker /Seeder / Spreader weighs 100 pounds. So make sure you have something strong enough to tow it behind before you start aerating your lawn.

The AgriFab Tow Spiker / Seeder / Spreader is every gardener’s dream tool. Get one of your own today by following the link here!

Slice Aerators

VonHaus Corded 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher Scarifier and Aerator

Forget about raking and get your yard work done twice as fast with this 2 in 1 lawn dethatcher and aerator by VonHaus!

15 inches wide and equipped with slicing blades, the VonHaus Corded 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher and Aerator picks up debris and matter that has settled in the thatch while aerating. Do not worry about picking up all the pieces once you are done either because this aerator comes with a collection system!

Want to vary the depth that the blades penetrate your lawn? With the VonHaus Corded 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher and Aerator, now you can!

Make your lawn chores easier today by ordering yours here!

Mantis 7321 Power Tiller Aerator / Dethatcher Combo

Another multipurpose tool is the Mantis 7321 Power Tiller Aerator / Dethatcher Combo!

However, rather than having one tool designed to do both jobs at once, the Mantis 7321 Power Tiller Aerator comes with a dethatcher attachment for you to use.

With 60 steel reinforced dethatching spines and 4 slicing blades, your yard will never have looked better than it does when you use this useful yard care tool!

Click here to see the lawn care tool you have always needed and wanted!

Core or Plug Aerators

Brinly Tow-Behind Plug Aerator

If you have a lawnmower with a hitch attachment, a four-wheeler, or a small tractor, this towable aerator will be the perfect match.

Built with six plugs and measuring 40 inches wide, this aerator will help get air and nutrients deep into your lawn. Whether your lawn is full of bumps or curves, the Brinly Tow-Behind Plug Aerator is sure to get the job done.

Order one for your lawn care today, by following the link here!

Agri-Fab Tow Plug Aerator

Do you have a rather large yard? Worried a smaller aerator will not be able to accomplish what you need it to?

Larger than most of the other lawn aerators on the market, the Agri-Fab Tow Plug Aerator is big enough and strong enough to accomplish what you need it to do.

The aerator is 48 inches wide out of durable steel. If somehow your Agri-Fab Plug Aerator gets broken or damaged, no need to worry, there is a three-year warranty protecting you from going without an aerator!

Check out the Agri-Fab Tow Plug Aerator here!

Not looking to aerate a large area? Perhaps you have a compost bin you need to aerate. If so, try out the Lotech Products Compost Crank Twist Compost Aerator and get richer, softer compost to use in your garden!

Alternatives to Mechanical Lawn Aeration

Still not sure that lawn aeration is the answer to your lawn care needs? There are plenty of other options you can try to keep your lawn looking and feeling healthy.

Perhaps the example of sandal spikes to aerate your lawn seemed like a good lawn care choice for you. While a mechanical aerator may not be the right tool for you and your lawn, the simple and easy sandal spikes are both unique and effective! Click here to get a pair of your own today!

If you do not want to use a mechanical aerator on your lawn, you may want to try some liquid aeration. Liquid lawn aerators, also known as a lawn conditioner, break down the compact soil and works to remove any toxins from the environment.

Learn more about liquid lawn aeration and the effects it can have on your yard by reading this article by Lawn Star.

Worried about pouring chemicals onto your grass? No need to worry! With the Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Aerating Soil Loosener, you get a natural formula guaranteed to help your lawn grow stronger! Get some liquid lawn aerating solution for your lawn here!

Want to see how quickly the effects of liquid lawn aeration set in on your yard? Watch the video below and be prepared to be amazed!

Another alternative to lawn aeration is deep raking. Deep raking is more commonly known as “power raking” or lawn dethatching.

When deep raking your lawn, you can use either a tilling tool or a mechanical dethatcher to remove the layer of debris and matter from your lawn. Removing this layer from the grass may not have as deep of effects as lawn aeration, it can be extremely effective at helping your yard to breath!

Chances that you already have a deep rake or a dethatcher in your shed are little to none. Try out the TRG Inc Groundskeeper II on your lawn and see the difference in your yard’s health!

If you do not want to spend your day running a rake through the thatch of your yard, get a mechanical dethatcher to help get the job done faster!

Get the GreenWorks Corded Dethatcher / Scarifier to speed up your lawn chores. This mechanical dethatcher has three different depth settings to make sure you get all the debris choking your grass.

Not sure you want to be limited by a cord on your dethatcher? With the GreenWorks Dethatcher / Scarifier you can get either the corded model or the battery-powered.

Put a dethatcher in your garden shed, by ordering the GreenWorks Corded Dethatcher / Scarifier now!

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