April 24, 2022
The Best Time to Aerate Your Lawn (And How To Do It Right)
“The grass is always greener once you don’t have to mow the lawn anymore.” – R.K. Millholland
Looking out over beautiful grass that you didn’t have to mow is a wonderful thing. Great lawns don’t just happen, but they look great only when you care for them. One way to get a lush green lawn is to aerate.
This post will help you better understand the best time to aerate and how to do it.
What Is Aeration
Aeration is how you improve soil condition by opening up gaps in the ground. No matter how you do it, the goal is the same: to allow water, air, and nutrients better access to the roots of your grass where they can help it grow better.
Grass needs all three elements–oxygen, water, and nutrients–in order to stay healthy. Over time, soil can become compacted which prevents beneficial elements from adequately reaching the grass’s roots. Many soils also naturally make it difficult to grow good grass. Clay soil like we mainly have in this part of Texas is especially dense, so routine aeration is a big help here.
Another benefit is that it helps prevent chemical runoff into surrounding storm drains, streams, and waterways. Fertilizers and weed prevention products that you apply throughout the year will stay where you need them instead of washing downstream.
When the soil isn’t good, the grass will show it. That’s why it’s helpful to aerate your lawn regularly. Opening up small holes or slits throughout your yard gives it better access to the water and nutrients it needs to thrive.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
There are several ways to aerate your lawn. We recently covered them in more detail in another post, “What is Aeration (And The Best Way To Do It For Great Results,” and you can check that out for more details. But here’s a short recap of the top 2 basic methods for aerating your lawn:
1. Spike Aerators – Whether by machine, spikes attached to your shoes, or a garden fork, this aeration method pokes thousands of tiny holes in your lawn as you work your way across it. As the spikes puncture the ground, they push the soil aside. When you remove them, there’s a hole.
There are times when this method is preferred to the ones we’ll cover next because it creates the least amount of disturbance. For instance, spike aeration is best if you have a grassy area close to your pool or if you have grass near a busy entrance to your commercial property where its curb appeal is important.
2. Core Aerators – This method creates larger holes by removing plugs of grass and soil with hollow tines on a rotating drum. Tines punch into the ground like a biscuit cutter as they roll across the lawn. When the drum moves forward, the tines are pulled out and the plug of soil inside falls out on top of the ground.
Because it does such a good job of opening up larger holes in your lawn, you only need to do this once a year in most cases. Heavier soils may require a second aeration later in the season.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
In this post, let’s focus more on the importance of knowing when to properly aerate your lawn. Aerating at the wrong time can cause more harm to your grass than good. So it’s to your advantage to make sure you time it right.
Never aerate in the winter when grasses are dormant. This is a recovery period when it won’t be able to repair itself (even though it is beneficial, aeration does cause some damage temporarily). Winter is also a bad time to aerate because if you open up holes in your lawn, exposing the roots to freezing air, you could actually end up killing the grass you’re trying to improve.
Never aerate in the middle of the hot, dry summer months either. When the temperatures rise, grass is putting all of its energy into staying alive. Disturbing it with aeration will only stress your lawn and create problems. Stressed lawns are more vulnerable to diseases and you could damage roots that are essential during the summer for taking in as much water as possible.
The best time to aerate is either in early spring just as the grass is starting to green up again or in the fall when the temperatures begin to cool down again. The advantage of fall aeration is that the heavy foot traffic of summer fun on the lawn will be over, and reducing compaction will give the soil plenty of time to improve before the grass starts growing again in the spring.
Which season is best largely depends on the type of grass you have on your lawn too. Cool-season grasses (like Fescue) should be aerated in early spring or early fall. Warm-season grasses (like Bermuda or Zoysia) won’t start growing until late spring, so it’s better to wait until then for them.
Aerating too soon after your lawn is waking up from any kind of dormancy (either from winter cold or summer heat) can cause problems, so give your grass time to green up and get active before you do anything to it.
When you take the extra step of aerating your lawn at the right time, you’ll be dramatically improving the condition of your soil. And your grass will reward you by growing deeper roots that produce a healthier, more vibrant lawn to enjoy.
Trust Your Lawn Improvement to Pros Who Can Make It Look Great
Aeration is a simple process that can quickly get complicated for a lot of folks. Plus, it’s a pretty labor-intensive job that you’d probably rather just watch someone else do!
If you want to enjoy a terrific-looking lawn without breaking a sweat, partner with LH Services. We’ve provided landscape services in Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas for over 20 years. Schedule a free estimate today to see find out what we can do for you!