Is your lawn looking a bit tired? Are there areas that seem to be visibly thinning? Many homeowners and gardeners want to have a perfect, green lawn but don’t know how to achieve it. Aerating your lawn is one of the most important steps in maintaining a healthy lawn and can be done at any time during the year.
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably think about aerating your lawn once or twice a year. And if you’re lucky, you may even get around to doing it! But when is the best time to aerate your lawn? Is there a specific time of year that’s better than others? But when is the best time to aerate your lawn? And how do you go about doing it? Keep reading to find out, so you can get started on achieving that perfect yard!
How Does Aeration Work?
Aerating your lawn works by driving spikes or long metal rods down into your soil all over your lawn, and then removing plugs of soil, which help your lawn breath and water to reach grass roots. This will thicken up the lawn by bringing healthy nutrients, oxygen, and moisture deep into the soil.
The result is a thicker turf that can withstand wear and tear better. Aerating will also allow fertilizer and lime to more easily penetrate your soil so it’s easier to maintain, which will ultimately save you money.
There are two types of aeration that you can do, spike aeration and core aeration.
Spike aeration is when you use spikes to pierce your lawn and create holes. Spike aeration is a better choice if you have a light or thin turf as it allows for more oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the roots. Because they don’t remove anything, they aren’t as effective at loosening the soil and can contribute to making compaction worse.
This is a less expensive form of aerating as it doesn’t require renting specialized equipment like core aerators do. You can get special spike shoes and walk around on your lawn, for example, or roll a metal cylinder with spikes over your lawn.
This type of aeration, which is also called plug aeration, works by using a machine that has hollow tines to remove cores of soil from your lawn. The cores are then deposited onto the lawn and left there, forming a nice thick layer of topsoil over time.
The holes they leave behind in the soil are then are filled with water and nutrients and can encourage healthy and widespread root growth. This type of aeration is typically best for lawns that are compacted or suffer from heavy traffic.
Why Do We Need to Aerate?
As we mentioned above, aerating your lawn is very good for its health. It promotes an earlier and deeper root system which will give you a healthier, greener lawn. Lawns that suffer from compaction can benefit greatly from aeration as well, as it brings air and water to plant roots and allows them to expand into the loosened soil.
Aerating also helps with weeding, as it reduces weeds in your lawn and allows you to reach them easier. It will help to keep you when overseeding or applying fertilizer by opening up the soil, which makes the soil able to absorb the seeds and fertilizer better.
Symptoms of Compacted Soil
So, how can you tell if your lawn is compacted? There are many symptoms of compacted soil, including footprints remaining in the soil after you walk on it. This is caused by the lack of air that compaction creates. If you or your family are constantly running around on your lawn or using large machinery on it, this may cause it to become compacted.
Other signs include a patchy lawn or areas that are greener than others which again can be an indicator of poor drainage and slow water absorption due to compaction.
Compacted soil can also cause water run-off and pooling on your lawn.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
When is the best time to aerate your lawn? And when is the best time of year? Those answers depend on a few factors, like your grass type and weather conditions, among others.
The general recommendation is to aerate your lawn in the season that has the most significant root growth. You shouldn’t aerate a dormant lawn.
When to aerate your lawn depends on whether you have warm-season grass or cool-season grass.
Late spring or very early summer are the optimum times for aerating warm-season grasses native to southern lawns, such as Bermuda Grass, St. Augustine Grass, Zoysia Grass, and others.
Early fall or early spring are the ideal season for aerating varieties of cool-season grasses prevalent in northern lawns, like Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Fescue. Aerating in the autumn season prepares your lawn for springtime, and your grass should grow more green and thick the next year.
The weather always plays a role in how and when you can work outside on your lawn and garden, and aerating is no exception. For example, don’t aerate in the rain or when it’s too windy, as the soil that comes up could be washed or blown away, not allowing it to mulch on top of the grass.
Additionally, the absolute worst time to aerate is when the atmosphere is warm and dry, which can rapidly dehydrate the grass, putting your lawn under a lot of stress.
Just like with regards to weather conditions, you shouldn’t aerate when your lawn is in the midst of a drought. This could make it worse. You should have a good soil moisture ratio when thinking of aerating, so make sure your lawn is well watered in the weeks leading up to aerating.
However, you also don’t want to aerate a wet lawn, as that can also be structurally dangerous for the lawn and soil. If you have had a lot of rain, or if your lawn is damp and puddly, wait a few days before aerating.
Overseeding is a wonderful way to supplement your spring aerating. Overseeding is the process of spreading seed on top of existing grass. New grass seed will fill in thin or bare areas of your lawn and add thickness and strength to it. When aeration is done in combination with overseeding, the new seeds have a better chance of reaching into the soil.
Fertilization is another option that works well when paired with spiked or core aeration. Fertilizer gives the grass nutrients that it does not obtain from the soil. If you’re already aerating your soil in the early spring, why not fertilize along side it? Fertilizer can also be used with fall aeration. It will keep your grass alive throughout the winter and result in a lush green lawn in the spring.
If you are looking for a premium fertilizer, see our post on the best fertilizers currently available.
So, it’s come time to aerate your lawn. It is a good thing for your yard and can help your soil and grass grow thicker, healthier, and with more nutrient and water absorption. In conclusion, keeping your lawn healthy starts from deep down in the soil where grass roots live. Your goal should always be to improve air circulation by removing any debris or compacted soil which prevents water and nutrients from reaching those roots.
We hope we have provided all the information that you need on when to aerate and how often, as well as tips for increased success. If you’re not sure when it’s best to start this process or if you need help with any other aspect of maintaining a healthy lawn, drop us a message! We’d be happy to help you in any way we can.