What Is Lawn Aeration? The All-in-One Guide to Do It Right

Simply put, aeration is the process of boring small holes in the lawn.

Sound weird?

It’s actually a common and dependable lawn care technique. And don’t worry, it’s not as laborious it sounds, especially with the right tools.

The basic idea is to break up compacted soil and help your grass absorb oxygen, water, and nutrients.

In this post, we’ll show you where lawn aeration is appropriate, why it’s healthy for your grass, and how to do it properly and efficiently.

What is Lawn Aeration? Everything You Need to Know

Aeration Gives Your Grass the Space It Needs to Thrive

Your grass needs some room to breathe.

Aerating allows more oxygen to get to the roots, which in turn helps grass absorb nutrients and grow.

Without aeration, it’s easier for the roots to get oversaturated and stressed. Stressed grass leads to bugs, disease, and ugly yellow patches.

Aeration is also important if you use fertilizer on your property, since it helps the fertilizer penetrate the soil. This prevents fertilizer runoff into Florida’s waterways (and prevents you from buying fertilizer that never actually gets to your grass).

In the wild, Mother Nature takes care of aeration, as birds, worms, and insects dig and burrow through dirt. So it’s a perfectly natural process that you can imitate to support the long-term health of your lawn.

Aeration Is a Benefit for Certain Types of Lawns

You should consider aeration if your lawn has any high-traffic or compacted areas. For example:

  • Paths that you or your family habitually uses to get from the house to the shed or other outdoor spots
  • Areas that kids or pets run and play in
  • Areas where grills, lawn furniture, or other heavy items sometimes sit

Similarly, if you use a heavy mower regularly, the lawn is more likely to be compacted and would benefit from aeration. This is part of the reason that Sun Power Lawn Care uses electric lawn care equipment, which is lighter than gas-powered equivalents.

Lawns with poor quality soil are also candidates for aeration, since they need a little help getting nutrients to grass roots.

How to Aerate Your Property

Your first step is to soften the ground. Turn your sprinkler system on or run your hose with a misting nozzle for a few minutes.

Next, if you have an irrigation system on your property, identify where the spray heads are so you don’t crash into them while aerating.

Now it’s time to get to the actual work of lawn aeration.

what is lawn aeration
Look carefully. This isn’t a mower – it’s an aerator! Photo: Guipozjim via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll need some equipment to create pores in the grass. If you don’t want to buy a new tool, you can simply stick a garden fork in the soil and give it wiggle. However, to make things more efficient, you can get a “core aerator.” This is a long-handled tool with two tubes on the end. The tubes drill small holes in the soil when pushed down.

There are even push- and power-aerators that have tubes on a rotator, which spin into the ground as you walk forward.

The holes should be roughly 3” to 4” deep, and you’ll need quite a few to get across your property. They should be spaced roughly 3” to 6” apart.

Once you’re done, you can mow your lawn to even the grass out and shake down the soil piles that were displaced.

Generally speaking, twice a year is what you’ll need for lawn aeration. You can do it once in the fall before the cold weather kicks in, and then in the spring before the growing season starts.

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