Are there tracks in the lawn? Are there tons of weeds despite a good fertilizer with weed prevention? Are pests becoming a problem? Is water pooling in the lawn after heavy rains? Are there bare spots that you haven’t been able to help? The soil might have compacted, and it might just take a little aerating to make the lawn thrive. If the lawn is primarily clay soil or it’s a dry area, you’ll need to aerate more frequently. There’s a simple and pretty unscientific way to tell when it’s time to aerate. Grab a stick. If the soil is difficult to penetrate with the stick, you should aerate.
If you don’t yet have an aerator attachment for your mowers, you can rent one. It is recommended that you should rent them before you buy one anyway. There are different types of aerators with different features, and the best way to determine which you prefer is to try them out. Aerators with spreaders allow the plugs (or cores) of soil to be spread throughout the lawn. It’s fine to leave them, but they should be raked to make the lawn look better right away. If you have a clay soil yard or live in a dry area, you want longer spikes on your aerator. You also want more spikes to play the odds. The more spikes you have, the more likely at least some will penetrate harder, dryer soils. In particularly dry areas, it’s a good idea to water a day or two before aeration, just to promote penetration. Then simply mow in the same pattern you were going to mow anyway, with the aerator attached.
Thatching your lawn before aerating is useful for building a healthy lawn, check out this post to learn more about dethatching the lawn.
Right after aerating is the perfect time to overseed if you are trying to repair bare spots or filling in during fall for a green winter lawn. By core aerating the lawn, you’ve perfectly prepared the soil to thrive on the seeds. This should be done as soon as possible after aerating, and it’s best to remove the pulled plugs from the lawn if you’re going to seed. It’s also a great time for water to get deep into the soil in dry areas, so watering after aeration is preferable. If it’s fertilization time, it’s also a good idea to aerate first if it’s needed.
Aerating will save you time and money watering in the summer as your lawn will be better able to withstand drought, and you will be thrilled with your healthier, fuller lawns. It’s well worth investing in a good aerator.