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How To Aerate Your Lawn

Updated on July 16, 2011

A well-kept lawn is the most attractive part of your house front. You may regularly mow, irrigate, weed and fertilize your lawn but you do not seem to get the lushness or level of growth that you desire and weeds seem to grow more easily. In such a case you should know how to aerate your lawn. With time the soil tends to get compacted and there is no pore space for the roots of the grass to absorb nutrients and water. When you aerate, you are actually making small holes in the lawn or removing small plugs of the soil so that air and water can penetrate up to the roots and the compaction is broken up.

How to Know if Your Lawn Needs Aeration

Before you learn how to aerate your lawn you should know if your lawn actually needs aeration. Here is a simple test. Poke your lawn surface when it is a bit moist, with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver does not penetrate easily and there is a lot of resistance then your soil needs aeration. A more thorough test would be to remove a piece of the turf about 6 inches square and 6 inches deep. Notice the roots and if they only extend about an inch or two then you should aerate your lawn.

Various Ways to Aerate Your Lawn

The simplest and least expensive way you could aerate your lawn is by using a spading fork. Simply push the fork tines into the lawn as much as it is possible and then move the fork handle front and back. This will make the soil a bit loose. This method involves quite a bit of hard work and hence suitable only for smaller lawn areas. This method is not that effective as you cannot remove small plugs of soil. For a more effective procedure you will need to invest in a sod-coring tool which will remove small plugs from the core soil and deposit them on top. This is doubly beneficial as the holes provide the required aeration and the soil plugs left on the lawn have micro-organisms which will help thatch decomposition.

If you lawn is too big or has not been aerated in a very long time then you will need a power driven aeration machine. This machine will basically do the same job as the sod-coring tool but can go deeper and bigger soil plugs can be taken out. The job also becomes very easy as there is not much of manual work involved.

How to Aerate your Lawn

Before you use any of the methods to aerate you lawn make sure to flag or mark areas where cables, power lines and pipes are running just below the soil surface. Then go over the full lawn area in the same direction similar to what you do when you are mowing. To get better results you could again go over your lawn in the opposite direction as well.

When to Aerate Lawns

The best time to aerate lawns is when there is active growth taking place. This time could be the early part of summer or much before autumn sets in. When you are aerating it is also a good time to fertilize or put new seeds.


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    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Some good advice, I'm fairly certain my front lawn could use some aeration. It is a thin layer of soil on top of clay, so it is pretty hard all of the time.

    • profile image

      gilbram 6 years ago

      Spring is indeed most desirable to aerate a lawn. The grass roots will then grow deeply, developing a plush lawn. One other benefit is, if their is lack of rain, for a few weeks during the summer, the grass will have a better chance of flourishing. Since the roots have grown deeper, they have more of a chance of encountering moisture, deep in the soil.

      Al Gilbram,