5 Quick Lawn Aerator Tips

Aerating your lawn will keep it vibrant, green and growing strong during the summer months.

There are several reasons why lawn aeration is important to good soil health.

The most important reason to aerate is to loosen up the soil and help with compaction.

Compaction can hinder how well the roots absorb the nutrients they need. Aeration breaks up the soil, allowing fresh oxygen and water to enter easily. The water will loosen the compacted soil and allow it to shift, freeing up the roots and allowing them better access to existing nutrients.

Tip #1 – Water Heavily

Watering your yard the day before will soften the soil which will help the core aerator pull deeper plugs.  In areas where the air is extremely dry, make sure to allow the water to run long enough to saturate the ground.

The extra water will also allow much needed nutrients to be brought towards the surface. Once the lawn has been aerated, the lawn’s roots will have better access to the things they need to thrive and continue to grow. Watering will also help the soil to “decompress” between the aeration holes.

The rule of thumb before aerating a lawn is to provide at least an inch of water.  If you have had rain recently, you may not need to water as much.

Remember, you want to pull as many deep cores as possible and that is difficult to do in hard, compacted soil.

Tip #2 – Aerate Once Per Year (Sometimes Twice)

The best time to aerate a lawn is in the fall.

During the summer, high levels of foot traffic can trample soil, compacting it tightly around the sensitive root system of the grass. This makes it difficult for water to be absorbed before it begins to evaporate.

You want to mechanically, core aerate every single fall.  Most homeowners will overseed at the same time of aeration (which I highly recommend). Breaking up the soil will provide good seed to soil contact which will help the grass seed germinate – along with a consistent watering schedule.

Aerating in the spring, breaks up ground that has been frozen solid for several months, but isn’t always necessary depending on your soil condition.

There are products on the market that now “liquid” aerate.  These can be good as well, but I still prefer the good ol’ mechanical core aeration.

Tip #3 – Don’t Use Spike Aerators

Spike aerators only create holes. Forcing a spike into the ground compresses the soil and does little to loosen the dirt surrounding the root system.

A core aerator pulls small plugs out of the soil.

Here are some models of core aerators that I recommend.

The cores cutting action does not compress the soil around the opening and the plug that is pulled out can be left on the top of the ground.

The cores laying on top of your lawn can look ugly for a few days, but the crumble back into the soil pretty quickly.  Don’t be tempted to rake them up.  Just let them decompose naturally.  Plus you don’t want to disturb your new seed – if you overseeded.

As they pass through the grass and thatch that covers the top layer of soil, they will add bacteria and microorganisms that will help the thatch break down.

Tip #4 – Burry Irrigation Lines Deep!

Lawn aerators vary in depth. Most core aerators range between two and three inches deep.

If you plan on having a sprinkler or irrigation system installed, make sure you know where the lines are buried.

When installing irrigation hoses, they must be deep enough so they will not be cut or penetrated by the spikes and coring tools used in lawn aeration.

Because of the way aerators are designed, it is difficult to keep track of where the cores and irrigation lines will intersect. The best possible recourse is to bury the lines at least 4 to 6 inches deep. This will prevent damage to the irrigation system.

Tip #5 – Avoid Shoe Aerators

While some people rely on shoe aerators, they actually can cause more harm than good.

Shoe aerators are basically shoes with spikes attached that penetrate the ground as the person walks across the lawn. While they do put holes in the ground, that is where their benefit stops.

The main problem with spikes is the compression of the dirt around them. With shoe aerators, not only does the spike compress the soil, but so does the weight of the person wearing the shoes.

Aeration is very beneficial to your lawn and should be done at least annually.