What is Lawn Aeration?

What is Lawn Aeration? Lawn aeration is basically punching holes in your lawn in order to make it healthier. Aerate means ‘to provide air’ or ‘ventilate’ and that is what a person does when they aerate their lawn.   Aeration is done by either pushing a pole into the lawn or ‘coring’ – pulling a block of soil out of the grass. Coring the lawn typically brings up a plug of grass that is ¼ to ¾ inch in diameter and 2 to 3 inches deep.

Why do this to your lawn? There are a number of reasons people aerate their lawn: packed down, tight soil will loosen up and allow the root system to grow better; the root system is better able to receive water when the soil is loose and can soak up the water; oxygen allows the soil and roots to ‘breathe’ making a lawn healthier; aeration helps to break up thatch and organic supplies – fertilizers – along with nutrients obtain access to the root structure.

Once the aeration process is completed, the lawn will look messy because all the ‘blocks’ or ‘plugs’ pulled up by the power aeration machine will be left behind on top of the grass. It will be hard, but leave them there. They will break up and return to the lawn and act as nutrients. After a  week or two has gone by, it will be time to mow the grass again and the left behind ‘cores’ will begin to blend into the grass and soil.  

Some people believe they can take a shortcut when it comes to aeration and slip on spiked shoes and jump or hop around their lawn; however this only makes stabs or slits in the surface of the lawn. This will not assure that the grass, air, soil and water will find one another to create a healthier lawn. By pulling out plugs of grass and soil, a lawn owner knows that the roots will reconnect to one another, and with the soil, in a much straighter, healthier fashion than the knotted mess they are in now that causes brown patches, thatching, weeds and crabgrass. Few lawn experts will recommend the ‘spiked shoes’ for small, localized area, although true aeration by coring or pulling out plugs is the best way to achieve and maintain a rich, healthy lawn.

Performing core aeration should be done to correct problems of thatch swelling or soil compaction and not as part of a routine lawn care program. Areas of high foot traffic, slow drainage after a rain and rapid browning during the summer months are all signs of compressed soil problems or thatch buildup.

A simple test to see if the lawn need aeration would be to take a garden hose to it and if the water does not soak in immediately, then there is probably a problem. The wooden match stick test could also tell someone if their lawn is compacted – an individual should be able to press a wooden match stick into the soil easily.