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Best Time to Aerate Lawn – Why and When You Should Aerate Your Lawn

Regular, simple lawn maintenance tasks help when you're trying to create a healthier, thicker lawn. Jobs that are typically done annually can play help support other monthly lawn maintenance tasks.

For many people, aerating lawns to improve grass growth and alleviate soil compaction is a regular task done annually. Every lawn or garden can benefit from having aeration done, especially when it’s done properly and timed well.

But when it the best time to aerate lawn? In this article, we're going to talk about why and when you should aerate your lawn.

Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

The roots of your grass need nutrients, water, and air to help it grow thick, strong, and deep. When the soil is compacted, even a little bit, it can prevent the stream of essential nutrients that support healthier, thicker grass growth.

Even if the compacted soil is a fourth of an inch thick, it can be significant in terms of the beauty and health of your grass. Aeration makes holes in the soil to lessen the soil compaction, so nutrients, water, and air can reach the grass's roots.

When deprived of their essential nutrients because of compacted soil, grass can struggle to grow in stressful events, such as low rainfall and heat, which causes the grass to lose its rich and healthy color.

The grass will slowly thin out and die out with a lack of their basic needs. Even one session of aeration can open up the avenue for the essential nutrients to reach the roots of the grass, and help your lawn grow.

When Does Your Lawn Need Aeration?

While you might think that your lawn isn't going to get compacted, it's more likely to happen than you realize. Small machines or vehicles driven over your grass, and even playing outdoors with your pets or kids and entertaining outdoors, can cause the soil to compact.

If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, annual aeration is needed to keep your grass from becoming weak and thin.

If you start to notice that your lawn looks stress and the feels hard or rainfall pools where it should absorb into the ground, your lawn is probably compacted. You can easily confirm if this is true by performing a screwdriver test.

To do this test, you need to take a screwdriver and poke it down into the soil of your lawn. If your soil isn't compacted, then the screwdriver should slide right into the ground. But if you find that there’s some resistance, then the soil is probably compacted: aeration can help in this situation.

Best Time to Aerate Lawn

Just as you would with other large lawn and garden projects, such as planting grass seed, the best time to aerate lawn is right before or when your grass has reached its peak time of natural growth. While aeration is great for your grass, it can cause stress if it's done at the wrong time.

For cool-season grass, those commonly found in the north, the best time to aerate lawn is in the early spring or early fall. For warm-season grass, commonly found in the south, the best time to aerate lawn is in the late spring or early summer.

When you aerate your lawn at the same time as active growth, the grass will recover quicker and fill in the areas where the aeration machine has exposed the soil.

Another thing to keep in mind is that aeration is easier to do when your lawn is moist from rainfall or irrigation. Dry soil isn't ideal for aeration because it's harder to work with. Avoid aerating overly wet grass; if this happens, wait a couple of days before aerating.

How To Do Aeration

Aeration equipment has three types: spike aerators, slicing aerators, and plug, or core, aerators.

Spike Aerators

This type of aeration equipment pokes holes down in the soil by using a spike-like, solid tine. A spike aerator will help only slightly with compaction because it tends to do more harm than good. This is because they tend to worsen compaction by pressing the soil together and around the holes.

Slicing Aerators

This type of aeration equipment uses a rotating blade that will slice or cut through thatch and grass and go into the soil. Slicing aerators tend to leave the soil in the ground. The holes that are created are deep enough for nutrients, water, and air to go to the roots of the grass without worsening the compaction.

Plug or Core Aerators

This type of aeration equipment is the preferred method by lawn care professionals. Plug aerators use rows of hollow tines to remove plugs of soil from the lawn, then deposits those plugs on top of the lawn where they'll break down. The holes and plugs will vary depending on the type of machine that you use.

You can either do aeration by yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. If you choose to do it yourself, there are aeration equipment companies and garden stores that rent out aeration machines. They also provide you with instructions on how to use the machine properly.

Aeration is very similar to mowing your lawn because you work the same way across the grass: going back and forth. You want to concentrate on known trouble spots, such as backyard playgrounds and pet runs. Make sure that you're making several passes, but in different directions, to get the most coverage.

Final Thoughts

By performing aeration on your lawn annually or doing regular compaction tests, you can ensure that your lawn is healthy, thick, and beautiful. The best time to aerate lawn is when your lawn is moist and during the correct season, depending on where you live.

Living in the north, the best time to aerate lawn is in the early spring or early fall. In the south, the best time to aerate lawn in late spring or early summer.

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