When Is It Time For Aerating Your Lawn
You should aerate a lawn when soils are moist. Spring is a great time to aerate a lawn made of warm season grass. This is when the grass is actively growing and it will recover quickly from the process. The cooler season lawn is better aerated in fall.
If you are not sure if you need to aerate, simply dig a section of turf out that is at least 1 inch square. If the brownish layer under the green, growing grass is an inch or more, then it is time to aerate. You can also just stab a screwdriver into the sod. If it is difficult to bury the tool to the hilt, it is time to aerate.
Work Sand Into The Holes
Once youve made holes in the lawn, use a stiff brush to work sand into them, Monty Don advises.
Sand will fill the holes and using it after aeration improves drainage and is good for clay soil or if your lawn is inclined to get waterlogged. Use masonry sand so theres no debris in it.
For normal or light sandy soil, you can use ready mixed top dressing. The latter can also be used to correct bumps in the lawns surface.
Gather Tools And Materials
Lawn maintenance is easier when you gather your tools and materials in advance. If you need a lawn aerator for this project, or a truck to transport it, contact your local Home Depot store for tool and truck rentals.
You will need:
Need help finding the best type of grass seed for your region? Read this Home Depot guide on Types of Grass Seeds.
Also Check: How Much Oil In Lawn Mower
Lawn Aeration: Diy Vs Hiring A Professional
The rules of lawn care are pretty simple: Mow and water regularly, spread enough fertilizer to keep it fed, and aerate as needed.
The last part, though is tricky. You have to know when and how to aerate and make sure you poke enough holes in your lawn to let it breathe. Should you do it yourself, or are you better off hiring a professional? Here are the pros and cons of DIY lawn aeration vs. hiring a professional.
Lawns That Need To Be Aerated
While we recommend that everyone aerate their lawn once a year, your lawn is a good candidate for aeration if:
- It gets heavy use, such as frequent activity from children or pets.
- Your lawn dries out easily or feels spongy. This could be a sign of excess lawn thatch.
- It was established by sod and has soil layering. This occurs when finer soil is layered on top of the existing thicker soil. This prevents proper drainage and keeps water from reaching the grass roots.
- Your home is a new construction. Typically the lawns of newly constructed homes are stripped or buried, which may cause soil compaction.
While these types of lawns should be aerated, aeration is not strictly limited to dry lawns with high activity. Every lawn can benefit from aeration! If you find that your lawn needs to be aerated this fall, take a look at the steps below.
Also Check: Does Scotts Lawn Fertilizer Expire
Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn
Aerating your lawn helps to prevent the soil from compacting and allows the roots of your lawn to have easier access to fertilizer and water. Most lawns endure heavy foot traffic, whether from dogs, children, or lawn equipment.
Combine that with our heavy clay soils that are common in the Kansas City area, and soil compaction creates a difficult environment to grow grasses.
Lawn Aeration Guide: Typical Scenario Of Diy Aeration
Aerating a lawn can be very time-consuming and pricey. We put together a typical scenario for the DIY homeowner who rents an aerator:
- If you have a trailer, hook it up to your car. If you do not have a trailer, you might need to borrow or rent one, resulting in renting fees.
- Drive to a home improvement retailer from your home, resulting in losing gas and mileage.
- Paying for your aerators rental fee, deposit, and damage insurance
- Load the aerator onto the trailer and drive back home, resulting in losing more gas and milage
- Unload the aerator and begin aerating your yard.
- Depending on where you rented the aerator, you might have to clean out each tine when you are done so you can avoid the cleaning fee.
- Load the aerator back onto the trailer.
- Drive to the store again to return the aerator, resulting in more gas and mileage loss.
Don’t Miss: When To Aerate Lawn In Georgia
What Are The Consequences Of Not Aerating
If you dont aerate your lawn, the soil isnt going to support the grass on your lawn, because it will be too densely compacted also known as hardpan. When soil is hard and compacted, water and fertilizer sit on top of the soil.
On a slope, water and fertilizer and any benefit that might otherwise go to your grass runs downhill and leaves the high areas of your lawn overly dry. Unfortunately, the only thing that will grow in poor soil is weeds, and your lawn becomes full of weeds as a result.
Can Aerating Damage Any Underground Utilities Lines Pipes Or Wiring
Most underground utility lines are buried to deep enough that aeration tines will not strike them. Other buried items such as sprinkler systems could be impacted. If you are concerned, call to have underground utilities marked. Use flags to mark irrigation heads and other hidden objects to avoid damaging them and/or the aerator.
You May Like: Does Lawn Fertilizer Go Bad
When In Doubt Try A Core Aerator
Ask any lawn care expert and they will tell you the same: Core aerators are the most effective method for aerating your lawn DIY-style. “Instead of pushing soil and thatch outward, it creates holes by removing cores of soil, and thatch to greatly reduce compaction issues,” Oldham explains. “Core aeration can be done by hand or by using powered machines.”
How To Aerate Your Lawn By Hand A Step By Step Guide
Weve covered off the tools, now its time for the actual process of aerating the lawn. Below we break it down into a nice and simple step by step guide.
Determine the type of grass
Find out the type or variety of grass that youre working with. The variety determines the best time for you to aerate. A quick recap in case you missed it earlier is warm season grass is best aerated in Spring and cool season grass in the Fall.
Check the soil type
Soil type will determine how often you show aerate your lawn. Soils with a higher clay content will need aerating more frequently than those soils with a sandier composition. A general guideline is clay soil every season and other soil types every two to three years.
This is a personal choice and will be decided by a number of variables like budget and time. The three main options are a core aerator, a spike operator and a fork. There is a fourth option that we dont recommend but which you may see promoted on other websites and that is spiked shoes.
Preparing your lawn
Make the job easier and prepare your lawn before aerating. Make sure the area is clear of debris and leaves. We recommend mowing the lawn prior to beginning. Also consider leaving a sprinkler on over night to make the soil moist and easier to penetrate but not to the point of water pooling on the surface.
Focus on the compact areas
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Wild Violets In Your Lawn
Does My Lawn Need Aeration
Lawns that suffer heavy foot traffic and consist of clay soil get compacted more easily, so they likely need to be aerated more often. Does rainwater run off your lawn without soaking in? Did your lawn turn brown after a few days of hot weather? If so, it might be time to aerate. Another check: Dig into a square-foot section of your lawn and inspect how deep your grass’s roots grow. If they extend less than two inches into the soil, then it’s time to aerate.
Aeration Diy: How To Prepare Your Lawn For Fall
Ever wonder why the grass on your favorite golf course is so green? Professional care aside, the secret to lush, green grass is aeration. However, aeration doesnt get nearly enough credit for the role it plays in nourishing your lawn!
Ideally, your lawn should be professionally aerated in early spring or fall, during your grass growing season.
However, while we know the value of professional lawn care, we also understand there are some things youd rather do on your own! So, to help make sure your lawn stays healthy all year long, we created this DIY aeration guide. Below, youll learn what aeration is and how to do it, as well as the benefits of overseeding your lawn after aerating.
Recommended Reading: How To Start Your Own Lawn Mowing Business
The Three Main Kinds Of Aerators Are
Here is a list of the different kinds of aerators available with Amazon links to my favorite one in each category.
A Core Aerator If you have ever seen an apple corer then a core aerator is a similar kind of tool. Where an apple corer will take the core from an apple an aeration corer will do the same thing to your lawn but on a much larger scale. This is the best way to aerate a lawn as it causes no compression at all. This is the tool of choice used by most lawn care professionals.
A Spike Aerator These kinds of aerators come in all shapes and sizes. They are easier to use than a core aerator but they are not as good. This is because the push spikes into the earth and this results in holes with compressed sides. An easy fix is getting a spike aerator as a pair of shoes and just walk around problem areas and you will see improvement over time.
A Slicing Aerator This machine has a blade and will basically cut lines into the lawn. These are usually only available as a pull-behind fitting for a lawn tractor so I have used a hand pushed machine that uses a star trimmer in my example. This is a good machine to use if you do not want to disturb the soil too much,
How To Diy Liquid Aerate Your Lawn
The best time to liquid aerate your lawn is in the spring or fall. This is usually when grass is growing the most, which allows the lawn to recover quickly. Spray according to the directions, then thoroughly water your lawn afterward and for the next two weeks. Your lawn should start looking better in a few weeks.
Also Check: Who Makes Greenworks Lawn Mowers
How To Aerate With A Garden Fork
- Avoid aerating in very dry or very wet conditions.
- Firmly spike the surface down to at least 30mm
- Move the fork back and forward a little then pull out.
- This cracks the soil a little and creates a hole in the soil to allow air in.
Doing this during the spring and autumn season has a good effect on the lawn.
Resume Regular Lawn Care
After aerating, continue basic lawn care practices such as proper fertilizing, mowing and watering.
An optional next step, which is best completed by a lawn care professional, is overseeding. Overseeding is the distribution and planting of grass seed to fill in bare areas of turf. Here at Killingsworth, we use a tri-blend of tall fescues to fill in stressed out areas of grass and improve the overall appearance of Charlotte-area lawns.
Summertime can be harsh on lawns, which is why aeration is so important. Similarly, overseeding allows new grass seed to grow and thicken up your lawn while choking out weeds. Introducing new grass types to your lawn through overseeding also helps protect your lawn against disease and insect damage.
Read Also: How To Kill Wild Violet Weeds In Lawn
Aerating Tools: Plug Aerator Vs Spike Aerator
Two main aerating tools exist a spike aerator and a plug aerator. With a spike aerator, you simply use the tool to poke holes into the ground with a solid tine, or fork. Plug aerators remove a core or plug of grass and soil from the lawn. For the best results, use an aerating tool or machine that actually removes plugs of soil. Poking holes is less effective and can actually cause additional compaction in the areas around the holes.
Look for an aerating tool or machine that removes soil plugs approximately 2 3 inches deep and 0.5 0.75 inches in diameter, and about 2 3 inches apart. These machines can be rented from lawn and garden stores or home improvement centers. Always follow the directions provided by the store. You may want to consider sharing the rental cost with a neighbor who is interested in aerating the lawn.
Diy Repurposed Rake Lawn Aerator
You dont need any fancy equipment to aerate your lawn. You can make a simple DIY lawn aerator out of an old garden rake and a 2X4. I do love good 2X4 DIY projects and this one is fabulous. You just use the rake to steady your aerator and give yourself a brace for pushing it into the ground. This one honestly will only take you an hour or so to make and it is really easy to use, too. What a great way to make use of old gardening tools!
Also Check: Spray Your Yard For Ticks
Should You Be Aerating Your Lawn
One of the most common questions from homeowners is how to determine if they should be aerating their lawn. Your lawn is probably a good candidate for aeration if it:
- Gets heavy use, such as serving as the neighborhood playground or racetrack. Children and pets running around the yard contribute to soil compaction.
- Was established as part of a newly constructed home. Often, the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped or buried, and the grass established on subsoil has been compacted by construction traffic.
- Dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This might mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem. Take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.
- Was established by sod, and soil layering exists. Soil layering means that soil of finer texture, which comes with imported sod, is layered over the existing coarser soil. This layering disrupts drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor root development. Aerating breaks up the layering, allowing water to flow through the soil more easily and reach the roots.
Repurposed Oil Drum Aerator
This DIY aerator is made from a five gallon oil drum and its pretty simple to put together. Once the spikes are in place, you add a handle and wheels and then just push the aerator through your yard to keep your soil and grass healthy. This one is so simple and can be really cheap if you have an old oil drum that you can use as the base.
Also Check: Where Are Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers Made
Lawn Aeration Guide: Setbacks Of Diy Aeration
A lawn that is adequately aerated will help to make your property look healthy and green. Homeowners who try to aerate themselves usually have problems that they do not know how to resolve. If you experience poor results, you will probably try another DIY lawn project to see if it helps or call a lawn service company, which means you have just paid twice.
Why Should You Hire A Lawn Professional To Aerate Your Lawn
Aeration is a crucial process for the long-term health of your lawn.
This is especially essential in Kansas Citys southern Midwest climate, where large amounts of fall debris contribute to a heavier layer of thatch.
Why hire a professional service to aerate your lawn instead of handling the job yourself? We have six reasons, right here:
Don’t Miss: When Does Lawn Mowing Simulator Come Out
Testing To See If Your Lawn Can Benefit From Aerating
The first sign of compression is when the rain puddles and does not soak into the soil easily. This is a sure sign that you need to work on this area.
If the symptoms are not that obvious such as unhealthy or sparse areas you could test with a large screwdriver. Slide it into the soil and if it goes in easily you are ok. If it is hard work to get in then the soil could be compacted. When you do this test do it away from tree roots or areas you know contain rocks.
If this test is inconclusive then you are going to have to work a bit harder. I would suggest that you dig out an area approximately a foot by a foot and half a foot deep. Look at the roots of the grass. If the roots are growing less than 2 inches deep then you need to aerate. Once you have established whether you need to go ahead or not you an put the piece of turf back in and it will blend back into your lawn in no time.