Aerate Lawn: How to do This and Why/When It’s Needed

Last Updated on

According to research, “oxygen must be supplied to plant roots at a rate supporting maximum respiration or the plant may suffer.” Not only this, “under natural conditions, soil aeration is poor when there is too much water in the soil and/or compaction of the soil.”

Aeration is chiefly done to alleviate soil compaction that prevents proper penetration of oxygen, water, and nutrients into the soil. The aerated soil will let air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots as well as provide a pathway for the carbon dioxide produced by roots to escape through. It helps the roots to grow deeper, which results in a healthy and vigorous lawn.

In other words, aeration is reviving the soil for the sake of providing excellent health and vigor to your lawn. Healthy grass is not just strong, but it also lends aesthetic beauty to your yard.

If you don’t know how to do this and why/when it’s needed, we are going to provide you all the necessary information required to start the aeration project, so keep reading this article.

How to Aerate Lawn?

Now, when you understand that your lawn needs proper aeration to yield strong and healthy grass, you obviously would like to know how you can practically proceed with this. For your convenience, we are going to provide you a step by step guide so that you can start your project.

Step #1:

According to research by the Department of Floriculture, Cornell University, “Poor soil aeration improves the environment for plant diseases so that their attacks are much more severe than they would be under good soil aeration conditions.”

So, it is crucial to check the condition of the soil. If the soil is dry, water it a day before you want to start aerating. You can also aerate the soil a day after a rainfall.

The purpose of doing this is to have moist soil, which lets the tines go deep with ease. The dry soil is comparatively harder and will give you a tough time if you attempt to aerate it.

Not only this, the soil should not be wet as well since the wet soil clogs the tines and does not provide proper aeration. Hence, make sure the soil is moist, which is easy to aerate and good for the lawn as well.

Step #2:

Once the soil is prepared, you need to start aerating. It’s fantastic if you have an aerator already, but if you don’t, buy a core or plug aerator, which works differently and more effectively than a spike aerator or a slicing aerator.

The core aerators come with hollow tines that don’t press the soil towards its surroundings, making the soil more compacted. The tines of core aerators remove plugs of the soil and leave them back on the top, making space for the oxygen to enter inside the holes.

If you don’t want to buy a core aerator, you may rent one from a nearby gardening store providing such equipment.

Step #3:

It is important to note that most of the aerators don’t cover all surface of the soil in one pass, which means you will have to ensure multiple passes until all the surface is covered. Your lawn deserves a little more effort that will make you feel proud at some point of time.

Step #4:

Now, it’s time to break up the plugs you removed from the soil. Make sure to let them dry first and then use a rake to break them. This process will give your lawn an even look.

Step #5:

Finally, your lawn is aerated, and all you need to do is to continue being a good guy. Just keep on fertilizing, mowing, and watering your lawn regularly, and your lawn will show the results at the right time.  Your lawn will be thankful to you for providing plentiful oxygen.

Why Do You Need to Aerate the Lawn?

When your lawn is compacted, it won’t let the essentials pass through down to the roots, especially when there are few rainfalls, and the sun shines bright every day. Such challenging situations may cause your lawn to struggle for necessities i.e., water, oxygen, and other nutrients.

If the essentials don’t reach down to the roots, the grass will slowly lose the vigor and its natural and beautiful color. It will become thin and will wilt with time.

However, if you aerate your lawn, the oxygen and nutrients will reach up to the roots of the grass, making it grow thicker, stronger, and deeper.

When You Need to Aerate

When the soil becomes compacted, the grass on your lawn may not remain unaffected. The impacts of compaction of the soil are usually apparent and visible. The grass will grow wilt and thin and will change color. It is time you should understand that your lawn needs aeration.

Additionally, if the surface of your lawn feels hard to the touch, it means the soil is compacted. If you want further run a check, excavate a plug of the soil up to 4 inches deep. If you see a layer of thatch measuring ¼ to ½ inches under the grass, your lawn needs to be aerated.

Remember, such conditions hamper the provision of oxygen, water, and nutrients to the roots, and your lawn, therefore, needs aeration so that it can breathe well and grow healthy.

Just in case you are looking to know the particular season or the point of time when you should aerate your lawn, we would suggest you do it in the growing season of your lawn grass.

It depends on the type of grass you have. Some grasses grow in the summer season while the others grow in the winter. So, whatever the growing season of your lawn grass is, start aerating at the beginning of that season since the grass can cover the ventilated holes faster.

Check this video guide:


Equipment for Aeration

Different types of equipment are used for aeration. A few of the most popular ones are as follows.

Spike Aerators:

Spike aerators are available in the form of sandals that you can strap to your shoes, and when walking on your lawn, the tines underneath your feet make holes in the soil. This method pushes the soil on the sideways, causing more compaction in the soil, which can get better when water enters the holes.

It is a slow process and may take a lot of time if you have a large yard.

Core Aerators:

Core aerators are those with hollow tines. The hollow tines of these aerators enter into the soil, making holes without pushing the soil around the holes. It deposits the removed plugs of the soil on the top of the holes, making the respiration process more convenient for the roots.

Powered Aerators:

Just like lawn mowers, powered aerators also features self-propulsion. They are usually designed to drive multiple tines into the ground. The powered aerators reduce your efforts at large and can aerate a more substantial area in a relatively short time.

Manual Aerators:

Manual aerators come with hollow tines attached to a step bar, and the user pushes the tines into the ground so that they can penetrate and remove plugs of soil. The manual aerators need physical exertion to drive the tines through the soil and can be a little difficult for the people in their old age or having physical conditions.


What is the best way to aerate your lawn?

We recommend using a core aerator as the best way to aerate your lawn. The hollow tines of core aerators penetrate the soil and excavate the plugs of the soil, making holes. The holes then improve the respiration process of roots that eventually controls lawn thatch, reduce soil compaction, and help grassroots to multiply.

Can you use a pitchfork to aerate your lawn?

There are lawn aerators available on the market that works best to aerate your lawn, but if you want to use a pitchfork, go ahead. The pitchfork can aerate the lawn, but its performance won’t be as good as aerators made for this purpose. It may take more of your time and energy.

What should I do after aeration?

After aeration, don’t mow your lawn right away; instead, wait for some time. It is the best time to put grass seeds and fertilize your garden when the roots are getting all that they need to grow thicker and stronger. So, when your lawn is aerated, you need to perform lawn care activities as usual so that it may become beautiful.

Should you remove soil plugs after aeration?

No, the soil plugs will break up slowly and will get back into the holes. The remains of soil plugs will mix up with the soil available on the top surface to provide a healthy lawn. Removing the soil plugs from the ground will increase your work and won’t be beneficial for your yard in anyways. So, leave the plugs on the ground and let them decompose. They will penetrate the soil with time, improving the quality of your lawn.

Leave a Comment