How to Aerate a Lawn

How to Aerate a Lawn

Aerate your lawn each summer as part of your regular lawn maintenance

By Vickie Ferguson

How to Aerate a Lawn: Hand lawn aerator
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Along with fertilizing, adjusting pH levels when necessary, eradicating weeds, providing sufficient water and controlling pests that feed on sweet, tender grass, the soil needs extra attention to prevent compaction. To address areas such as a walkway, drive or play area prone to compaction due to continual use, the soil is aerated. Through the process of aerating the soil once a year, the cores -- or holes -- created by the aeration process allow water to penetrate the soil along with much-needed oxygen to promote the growth of healthy roots.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Purchase or rent an aeration tool that uses a pushing apparatus, manual two-pronged or multi-pronged spike tool or a gas-powered aeration machine.
  • You may also aerate your lawn using aerator shoes, which are essentially sandals with 1 to 2 inch spikes on them to poke holes in your lawn. However, some homeowners argue that these shoes actually compact soil -- the opposite of aerating soil -- because you press the soil down with your body weight while stomping around the lawn in aerator shoes.

Step 1:

Check the soil conditions prior to using the aeration tool or machine. Remove a small sample section of the lawn approximately 6-inches deep to determine root growth. Grass roots growing only 2 to 3 inches deep are an indication of compacted soil.

Step 2:

Apply water to the soil several times over a two-day period prior to beginning the aeration process so the soil is fully saturated. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Step 3:

Mark any areas in the lawn where sprinkler heads or shallow water, sewer lines or cable lines reside to prevent damage to the lines and sprinklers by the aerator apparatus. Gas-powered and manual rolling lawn aerators have tines delving 2 to 3 inches into the ground. Hand push spike aerators reach depths of 4 inches or more.

Step 4:

Select a section of the lawn and begin the process of aerating the soil using your choice of aeration tool. Do the entire area in the same direction. When complete, repeat the process by crossing the entire area in the opposite direction to ensure that the lawn has ample soil cores.

Step 5:

Allow the soil cores removed by the aeration device to degrade naturally back into the soil. Add fertilizer to the lawn once the entire area is aerated.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Do not aerate a lawn immediately following a heavy rain. Allow the soil to absorb the water so that the soil cores easily fall from the tines of the aerator. Too much water makes the soil muddy causing the soil to stick to the tines.
  • Use caution when aerating around areas marked to designate sprinklers and any underground lines.
  • Allow a newly seeded lawn to become established -- preferably waiting until the the second year -- before aerating.

About the Author

Vickie Ferguson is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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