Aeration is THE secret weapon in making your lawn healthy. It is a process that makes holes in the lawn either by pushing a rod into it or by coring (extracting a plug of soil). Aeration provides oxygen to the roots, allows fertilizers and nutrients access to the root system; water is better able to soak the soil, and thatch buildup is reduced.

Just like you wouldn’t mow a lawn that’s soaking wet or apply a winterizer fertilizer in June, aeration also requires specific timing. The time of year you tackle aeration and how often you aerate depends on grass and soil type. Warm season tur types are aerated in the late spring/early summer while cool season turf types are aerated in the fall.

Different soil types require more frequent aeration. Clay soil compacts easily and should be aerated at least once a year. You can aerate a sandy lawn once a year, or you could tackle the chore in alternating years. In arid climates, aerating twice a year will enhance turf growth and health. If your lawn is frequently driven on or used for parking cars, aerate annually.

The main reason for aerating is to alleviate soil compaction. Compacted soils have too many solid particles in a certain volume or space, which prevents proper circulation of air, water and nutrients within the soil. Excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements.

Lawns should be thoroughly watered the day before aerating so plugs can be pulled more deeply and easily. Mark all sprinkler heads, shallow irrigation lines and cable TV lines before aerating so those lines will not be damaged.

On lawns with more than ½ inch of thatch, it is important to leave the cores on the lawn, allowing them to work back into the grass. Otherwise, the cores may be removed or left on the lawn. Lawns may be fertilized and seeded immediately after aeration. Water the lawn soon after aeration