Aeration: Why, How & When to Aerate Your Lawn

Everyone wants a lawn that is full, lush, green, and strong. However, that doesn’t happen by accident, but rather by design. Lawns need aeration to stay healthy. Using aeration systems opens spaces for water and oxygen, loosens compacted soil, removes plugs of thatch and roots inhibiting growth, and can help with weed control by loosening the soil.

What Is Aeration?

Aeration is the process of using a tool to remove controlled portions of your lawn in strategic spots in order to loosen soil and give the grass space for water and oxygen to penetrate all the way to the root level.

Why Do You Need To Aerate Your Lawn?

Lawns require aeration because when the soil becomes closely compacted from the weight of people walking on the surface, it becomes very difficult for necessary substances (such as nutrients, water, and oxygen) to get as far down into the soil as they need to in order to feed the root system.

Also, lawns that are well-aerated have much better drainage, which also contributes to the long-term health of your landscaping.

When Should Aeration Be Done?

The best times to use aeration systems on your lawn are the spring and fall, when the soil is not wet. The worst time to aerate is during warm, rainy weather because it causes compaction as soon as you walk on it. If your lawn becomes dry in the summertime, aeration can be beneficial. When you aerate your lawn, you should water it for a few hours to 24 hours after aeration.

How Often Should Aeration Be Done?

How often a lawn ought to have aeration performed depends on how much foot traffic passes over that lawn on a regular basis. For lawns that are rarely, if ever, walked on, performing the lawn aeration process every other year will be sufficient. However, for lawns that receive medium to heavy levels of foot traffic, Aeration will need to be done up to twice a year.

What Should The Condition of the Grass Be Prior to Aeration?

Aeration is used to loosen up the lawn, get the soil to breathe again, and remove any of the particularly compacted spots that have built up. So, it’s important not to do it when the ground is wet because the soil will just get tamped down again when you walk on it. Most people typically do their aerating in spring or fall.

What Size Plug Aerators Are Appropriate For Which Type of Lawn?

The most common size of plug aerators to use for tougher types of grasses like centipedegrass, st. augustine grass, and zoysia is anywhere from 1/4″ diameter core plug aerators up to 3/8″ diameter core. For bluegrass, use the 3/8″ or 1/2″ core plug aerators because it is more sensitive to dead spots in your lawn and won’t grow back as well with a smaller hole.

How Deep Should The Aeration Holes Be?

Aeration can be done on your lawn as deep as 3 inches (7.6 cm) depending on what type of grass you is in the yard; in general, centipedegrass, seashore paspalum, bermudagrass, zoysia grass, bluegrass, and Bermuda grass all benefit from deeper aeration than other types of grasses. The more dense or compacted your soil is, the greater number of aeration holes you will create.

What Should You Do With The Plugs?

You will want to remove approximately 25-50% of the plugs that come up from your lawn. They need to be spread evenly across your yard, as opposed to piled all together in one spot.

Hopefully, this information has illuminated the need for the regular use of aeration systems on your lawn in order to keep it strong, lush, and healthy.

Joe Cadieux
Joe Cadieux is the Senior Biologist for Midwestponds.com. Midwestponds was started to provide the products and advice needed to build and maintain water gardens and large ponds as naturally as possible. Joe consults and manages many lakes and ponds throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. He also takes special pleasure as a judge at the University School of Milwaukee’s Spring Science Fair.

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