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Lawn Aeration Tips and Techniques

Lawn Aeration Tips and Techniques

When your lawn looks unhealthy, consider aeration as a solution to the problem. If your lawn is too compacted it cannot receive the proper amounts of water, air and nutrients it needs. Learn more about why, how and when lawn aeration is important.


1 | Aerate your lawn to deal with thatch

Thatch is a matted layer of grass clippings, moss and other organic material that can develop in your lawn. When your lawn is covered with thatch, it cannot breathe or absorb water and fertilizer. An annual lawn aeration can help fix that issue by breaking up thatch and speeding up its decomposition. The soil plugs that will result from aeration contain microorganisms that digest thatch.

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2 | Aerate for water savings and drought protection

If your lawn has built-up thatch, it cannot properly absorb water. Also, if your soil is hard and compacted, water will pool on your lawn and the transfer of oxygen and nutrients into the soil will be diminished. Aerating relieves compaction in your lawn and improves the penetration of air, water and nutrients for a healthier soil.

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3 | Aerate for weed and insect resistance

Core aeration is good for roots. Aerating your lawn will help water, air and nutrients reach your grass roots, improving growth and therefore stopping weeds from spreading. In addition, the insects you want in your lawn, like worms, will thrive thanks to aeration, while other insect infestations (like chinch bugs) will be kept at bay if you break down their environment.

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4 | Aerate for better fertilizer uptake and turf growth

Aerating soil also increases fertilizer impact on the root system. If you properly aerate your lawn you will get the most out of your fertilizer investment. Plus, aeration will give new lawn shoots room to grow for a stronger lawn.

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5 | Aerate to free top dressing

When you aerate your lawn, it leaves thousands of soil cores on the surface of your yard. This provides you a top dressing that will help preserve the moisture in the turf and protect your lawn until the next rainfall.

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6 | Aerate when your grass is at peak growing

Depending on the type of grass in your lawn, you will aerate during different seasons. Mainly, you will want to aerate when your grass is at its peak growing season. That means late spring for warm season grass, and preferably early fall for cool season grass.

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7 | Aerate your lawn with caution

You can use many tools to aerate your soil, from a simple pitch fork to a mechanical aerator. But whichever tool you pick, make sure to mark your lawn before you even begin the aeration. Using marker flags, mark all irrigation heads, valve boxes, shallow irrigation pipes or shallow wiring and any other items that could be damaged by aeration.

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8 | Aerate thoroughly with multiple passes

When you are ready to go, aerate your lawn following the same pattern as when you mow. For best results, make multiple passes with the aerator to avoid inconsistent grass growth with noticeable stand-alone patches of grass. If your lawn is in good shape, two passes is sufficient. If your lawn has large bare areas, make three to four passes. The more soil plugs and holes you have in your lawn, the better.

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9 | Aerate with the right tools

A great lawn aeration tool is the STIHL YARD BOSS®. With optional attachments, the STIHL YARD BOSS® can cultivate, edge, sweep, dethatch and of course function as a yard aerator, making it a great tool for many jobs around the yard and garden. You can also rely on a hand aerator and not necessarily need an aerator machine, depending on the size of your lawn. Other lawn aeration techniques include spike aerators, push aerators and lawn aerator shoes. The main difference between spike aerators and plug ones is that the former will only poke holes in your soil while the latter actually removes plugs of grass.

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10 | After lawn aeration

After the aeration process, continue to apply the appropriate care to your yard, including fertilization, watering and mowing. Depending on the health of your lawn, you might want to aerate every year or two. However, if your lawn is in good shape, you may not need to go through the aeration process that often.

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