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How To Aerate Lawn

What is Lawn Aeration?

Lawn aeration is the process of poking holes or removing small plugs of soil from your yard. For DIY lawn care check out our huge selection of grass seed, fertilizer, and weed control.

Why Should You Aerate Your Yard?

Lawn aeration is a yearly task that can improve your grass quality immensely. Aerating your lawn reduces soil compaction. This enhances grass growth by improving the flow of air, water, and nutrients. Think of aeration as a massage for your yard. It opens things up and gets things moving right again. It improves soil “circulation” which gives you a healthy, lush lawn with deep, strong roots. Aeration is especially important for yards that get a lot of traffic and that have clay soil.

When Do You Aerate Your Grass?

For northern lawns that tend to have cool season grasses like fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass, early fall or early spring are the best times to aerate your lawn. Southern lawns with warm season grasses like bahia, bermuda, centipede, St. Augustine, and zoysia should be aerated in late spring or early summer. Aeration is best done when your lawn is growing actively. Do not aerate dormant lawns.

Do You Have to Hire Professionals to Aerate Your Lawn?

Many professionals will tell you to leave lawn aeration to them. And of course they do! It is money in their pocket! Lawn aeration doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It is just equipment, time, and labor. For those of you with large yards you can rent a heavy duty lawn aerators for as little as $65 for 4 hours from the big garden centers or equipment rental companies. If you’re on a really tight budget there are tools for $15 to $25 that definitely improve the health of your lawn. Cheaper tools will take a bit more labor, but there are options for everyone. If you wanted to pay someone to aerate your lawn you probably wouldn’t be reading this article, but you can do that too! There is a reason there are lawn professionals. But there are options for literally every person and budget when it comes to lawn aeration.

What Tool Do You Need to Aerate Your Yard?

There are 3 types of aeration tools you can choose from to aerate your lawn.

Spike Aerator

Spike aerators are the least expensive option. They simply poke holes in the ground and come in options like a handheld rotating wheel or even silly strap on shoes. I have used the handheld tool. It was easy to use and has a long handle so you can walk like normal as you push it along. You do need to apply some pressure to get good penetration. Some pros say this method can potentially increase compaction, but so does walking on your lawn and I’m not going to stop doing that. Why would I bother with healthy grass at all if I can’t feel it between my toes?

Slicing Aerator

A slicing aerator does just what it sounds like; it slices through your grass into the soil. It leaves the soil there but opens up the soil creating pathways for a healthier yard. These are also called electric scarifiers or dethatchers and cost around $150. This will be easier than the handheld spike aerator and in theory won’t cause as much compaction, but looking at the blades on these machines I actually think you may get better penetration out of the spike aerators.

Plug aerators

Plug aerators are the big guns and what the professionals use. They actually remove a small core of soil. There are expensive machines that do this with ease that you can rent, but there are also inexpensive manual turf core aerators that work the same way. Almost like a bulb planter (if you’ve used one of those) but with 2 or 4 small coring tubes, this $25 tool is great for a small yards with normal soil. This aerator is definitely not the best choice for large yards or yards with rocky or clay soil.

How Do You Aerate Your Lawn?

Be sure your lawn is moist, but not wet. Dry or wet soils make aeration much more difficult. Aerate your lawn the day after you water or it rains or maybe later in the day if you have watered earlier in the day. Follow the instructions for the tool you choose. Be sure to cover your whole yard concentrating on high traffic and problem areas by doing multiple passes in different directions to thoroughly cover the area.

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