A thick, thriving lawn requires the right amount of air and water penetration to allow the entry of key nutrients into the soil. Yards that are made up of firm, compacted soil are less likely to allow oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots. These conditions require aeration. Aerating the lawn will help increase airflow and absorption of water that might otherwise have been blocked.
Part 1 of 3: Determining the Right Time for Aeration
Step 1. Know the type of grass that grows in your yard
Different types of grass grow most actively during certain seasons of the year. It is best to aerate before or during the period when the grass is most active. Thus the grass will grow back quickly and recover from the aeration process.
- Warm-season grasses-those that require little water and are resistant to heat-such as buffalo grass, bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass experiences very active growth during the summer. If your lawn is planted with this type of grass, it is best to aerate in late spring or early summer.
- Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue grass, and ryegrass, have an active growth period in the fall, when temperatures drop. Be sure to aerate as early as possible for a lawn with this type of grass. this grass, so that the grass can recover after a month of aeration before being attacked by frost.
Step 2. Know the type of soil in your yard
Yards with dense clay/loam need frequent aeration, at least once a year, as this type of soil tends to be thick and dense. While on sandy soil, aeration is enough to be done approximately once every two years.
Step 3. Know the treatment of the grass in your yard
Do you or some people-perhaps children, visiting guests, etc.-often pass by the lawn? Grass that is often stepped on needs to be aerated once a year to prevent the soil beneath it from becoming too dense.
- Have you recently replanted your lawn? If so, you should not aerate within a year of re-seeding, as grass takes time to grow strong.
- Test your lawn's need for aeration by checking the depth of the grass roots penetrating the soil. If the grass roots are no more than two inches (±5.08 cm) deep then you will need to aerate.
Part 2 of 3: Preparing the Yard for Aeration
Step 1. Determine the most appropriate type of aeration equipment (aerator) for your yard needs
You can choose an engine powered aerator or a manual aerator.
- Engine-powered aerators – driven by gasoline engines – are best suited for large yards. This type of aerator uses a spike-system to pierce the soil or a coring system that pulls the soil out to allow absorption of water and nutrients. To save costs, you can rent an engine powered aerator on a daily basis.
- Manual aerators work more efficiently for small lawns or heavily traversed grass areas. There are two known types of manual aerators, namely the coring-style aerator which uses a cylinder to remove the inside of the soil and the spike-type aerator which rotates on patches of grass creating holes in the soil without digging. Hobbyists and lawn care professionals recommend the first type of aerator (coring-style aerator) because it gives the best results in increasing the absorption of water and nutrients in the soil.
Step 2. Prepare yard conditions for aeration
Yard aerators work best on clean lawns, where the grass is trimmed short.
- Remove any fragments or debris, such as leaves, sticks/twigs, and other objects littering the lawn to ensure that nothing interferes with the passage of the aerator.
- Trim the grass short in the yard before you aerate to make sure the aerator you are using has access to the area. If the mower you're using doesn't have a pocket for catching grass clippings, use a rake to collect grass clippings-to throw away or compost after you're done trimming them.
Step 3. Check the humidity level of your lawn
If your area has been experiencing drought recently, water your lawn for a few days before you aerate. The goal is to soften the soil structure, because either a manual aerator or an engine powered aerator will work more efficiently on soft soil.
Step 4. Know which parts of your page get the most traffic
Plan to access the area with the aerator more than once to ensure that you have aerated that part of the page.
Part 3 of 3: Aerating the Yard
Step 1. Start by positioning the aerator in one corner of the page
Move it from side to side evenly until the entire area is completely aerated.
- Do not aerate the entire page more than once, except in areas where extra aeration is required.
- If your lawn requires continued aeration, run the aerator in the opposite direction from the first direction you took to maximize the aeration process.
- Leave the turf that is uprooted after you aerate. Over time, it will turn into useful compost as it provides nutrients to your lawn.
Step 2. Fertilize your lawn after aeration
Spread compost, sand, peat moss, or another type of fertilizer on your lawn to help any existing grass re-grow after aeration. The fertilizer will be absorbed easily through the new holes formed by the aeration process.
- Plan for aeration of your lawn once every three years. Do it more often, especially if your lawn is often crossed or if the soil is a dense type of loam, so that the lawn is kept healthy. You can safely perform spike aeration once a year to encourage grass growth.
- Consider purchasing an aerator shoe for the cost-effectiveness of small yard aeration. These shoes are equipped with large steel spikes that will leave small holes wherever you step.