The Importance of Core Aeration for Your Lawns Overall Health

Core aeration should be a part of your spring and/or fall lawn care schedule.

To survive, all lawns require both air and nutrients reach the grass roots.

Your soil can become compacted over time.  Soil compaction means there is not enough room in the soil for air and other nutrients to reach the grass roots. Lack of both can be a death sentence for your lawn.

If you aerate lawn, this can also prevent thatch build-up, foster a good environment for beneficial insects and relieve some yard drainage problems.

Who Aerates Their Lawn and How Often Should it be Done

Core aeration is done by most homeowners at one time or another.  How often it is done really depends on grass types, soil type and soil compaction.  A good rule of thumb is.............

Lawn Problem Reason to Aerate How Often to Aerate Lawn
Warm season grasses (i.e. Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass) Grass type is known for excessive thatch build-up Once a year at a minimum. Twice is preferable
Heavy clay soil Soil compaction is common At least once a year
Lawns with heavy foot traffic Soil compaction common Once a year
Yard drainage problems Water is puddling up and not reaching grass roots As necessary
Areas where the grass is sparse or bare Soil compaction common As necessary
All lawns To help air, water and grass fertilizer to reach grass roots and promote good health Every two years

What Type of Lawn Care Equipment Do I Use to Aerate Lawn?

You have several options when it comes to aerating lawn.

In deciding which option is best for you, consider how often core aeration will need to be done, the size of your lawn, your physical ability and of course your finances.

You also need to decide who is going to aerate lawn.  Should I or should  I hire a lawn maintenance service?

Rent a Power Core Aerator

You can rent a power core aerator at your local home improvement center or rental center.

They are gas powered and are like maneuvering a power lawn mower.  It is very heavy so you may need someone to help you load and unload the machine from a trailer.  Most lawns can be done in an hour or less.

A good way to save money is to get several of your neighbors together to go in on the cost of renting the machine.  Everyone's lawn will be aerated and it is a real money saver for all.

Buy a Power Core Aerator

I don't suggest you buy this piece of lawn care equipment. Aerators are expensive when you consider that you may use it once, maybe twice a year. 

It also requires you have the extra space to store it.  If you are like most, you are trying to create more space in your garage or shed, not use it up.

It is my opinion you are better off renting the machine with a few neighbors.

Use a Hand Aerator

A hand aerator is perfect for smaller areas.

They are reliable and inexpensive.  You can buy one at your local home improvement center or hardware store. There are models with 2 spikes or 4 spikes. The cost of a hand aerator ranges between $25 and $50.

It is also a good workout for both your arms and your legs.

I frequently use a hand aerator at my own home. It is great for smaller areas that need to be reseeded and under my large pine tree where I have to add lime to the soil.

Aerate Lawn With Spiked Shoes

They actually sell spiked shoes that you can strap over your street shoes.

Some prefer this method because you can get your daily walk in as well.

I have never used spiked shoes to aerate. This method would most likely not be as effective as the other methods because the shoes do not dig deep enough in the soil.

Hire a Lawn Maintenance Service to Aerate Lawn

Hiring a lawn maintenance service to aerate lawn requires the least amount of physical labor on your part.

The other benefit is that it saves you time and you don't have to deal with the hassle of hauling it back and forth to the rental company.

Depending on the size of your lawn, the cost can range from $40 to $100 to hire a lawn maintenance service.  You may be able to negotiate a better deal if several of your neighbors also want their lawns professionally aerated.  Afterall, the company will save money on gas since they won't even have to move their truck to go to the next job.

Add Earthworms to Your Soil

Earthworms are good for your lawns overall health.

This is a form on natural lawn care.

Earthworms are beneficial insects that naturally aerate your lawn by moving through the soil.

From Core Aeration to Lawn Care Schedule.

Tips for Aerating Lawn

Aerating lawn is the process of digging out thin plugs (about as thick as a pencil) that are several inches deep.  The plugs are approximately 3 inches apart from each other.

Cool season grasses are typically aerated in late spring or early fall. Warm season grasses are typically aerated in spring.  You want to use the aerator when the temperature is around 60 degrees.

Aerating lawn that is dry does not work well. You need enough moisture for the spikes to dig deep into the soil. Unless it has rained, it is a good idea to water your lawn a few days before it is aerated.  You don't want your lawn soaked, just moist. This step is necessary whether you do it yourself or you hire a lawn maintenance service.

If your soil is sandy, it is a good idea to aerate in the same direction you typically cut grass. You only need to go over the lawn once in a single direction.

If you have heavy clay or loamy soil that is very compacted, you should aerate your lawn twice. Once in each direction.

I know it is unattractive, but don't rake up the grass plugs. By watering lawn, the grass plugs will break down into the soil again.

To prevent your lawn from drying out, for several weeks after aerating you want to water your lawn.  You don't want the exposed grass roots to dry out.

Now is a good time to use grass fertilizer on your lawn, reseed your lawn and if it is acidic to add lime to the soil.

Core aeration is a good idea for all lawns. As you can see the frequency with which it should be done depends on many factors. Your lawn needs air, water and grass fertilizer to thrive. This process ensures the proper nutrients will reach the grass roots of your lawn.