lawn care articles home & patio articles gardening articles
Late Summer Flowers Green Lawn Care Water Conservation Composting Lawn Tools Drought Stress Fall Landscaping
Green Landscaping Water the Lawn Pruning Tow & Lawn Rollers Grass Types (p1) Zen Landscaping Storm Water Runoff
Aerating the Lawn Lawn Spreaders Grass Types (p2) Prairie Garden Cisterns & Rain Barrels Plant Pruning Lawn Mowers
Lawn Mowing Tips Preseason Pruning Arbor Day Tree Pruning Container Landscaping Lawn Care Niwaki Cloud Pruning
the Garden Room Tree Planting Re-Landscaping Espalier Pruning

lawn care articles home & patio articles gardening articles
Foyer Gardens Bird Houses Firepits & Chimineas Desktop Zen Gardens Patio Shade Bonsai Gardening Norfolk Island Pine
Zen Kitchen Butterfly Watching Outdoor Zen Bonsai Trees Bamboo Zen Gardens Pet Travel
Zen of a Firepot Tis the Season Feng Shui Indoor Zen Attracting Birds Mini Zen Gardens Container Trees
Wind Chill The Christmas Cactus Bonsai Pruning Japanese Snow Garden Zen

lawn care articles home & patio articles gardening articles
Container Basics Greenhouses pt 1 Cabbage & Lettuce What is Fertilizer? Drought Gardening Container Gardening Greenhouse Gardening
Potato Gardening Fertilizers & Compost Plant Rotation Container Plants Greenhouse in Summer Chili Peppers Organic Fertilizers
Tomato Seeds Container Planters Greenhouse Extra Begonias Winterizing Outdoors Seed Germination Patio Gardening
Greenhouse Heating Aloe Vera Plant Indoor Gardening Garden Seeds Plant Zone Map Pollinators Garlic
Gardening Zen Garden Planning Fruit Trees Greenhouse Cleaning Cold Frames Raised Garden Beds Vertical Gardens
Cottage Gardens Greenhouse Living Garden Seedlings Organic Fertilizers (2) Keyhole Gardens Polar Vortex Garden Hydroponic Gardening

A flower sitting with a group of dark rocks, bamboo, grass and the LawnZenGarden logo. A flower sitting with a group of dark rocks, bamboo, grass and the LawnZenGarden logo.

HOMELawn Care Articles

by Wes Yohey Ground level photograph of blades of grass with a dark background.

Lawn aeration is a lawn maintenance function which allows greater access of moisture and nutrients to the root level of the grass. In my years in the lawn and garden industry, I've seen a wide variety of lawn aerators (many of which didn't make their way to market...and for good reason), but most fall into one of two categories, spike aerators and core plug aerators.

Close up image of spike aerator star shaped spikes Spike Aerators

Spike aerators come in a wide variety of shapes and forms, from cones, spikes and tines to shoe cleats and even 4-tine digging forks...essentially anything that could poke a few small holes in the ground. For larger lawns, thin, star-patterned spikes are attached to a rotary axel in either manual push or pull models. Wider models are available which can be attached to the hitch of a lawn tractor or ATV. Less effective than core plug aerators, spike aerators are more useful for quick applications in high run-off areas or for seeding purposes. In spike aerators, you achieve more of a trade-off. While creating a breathing hole, you're pushing the soil aside to create the hole thus increasing soil compaction in the surrounding areas.

Core Plug Aerators

Core plug aerators are much more effective in lawn aeration and one of the best things you can do for your lawn's health if it suffers from heavy compaction or thatch. As with spike aerators, core plug aerators are available in a wide variety of forms and shapes, all designed to rip either a spooned divot or an actual "plug" of soil up from the lawn. Professional gas powered aerators typically dig out soil core plugs which are ½ to ¾ in diameter and 1" to 6" deep. While most are designed to dig 4" to 6" deep, clay content, rocks, roots and compaction level can affect the depth of the core plug.

This is an extremely effective way to aerate your lawn. Besides the immediate access through the core plug holes, aerating also hastens the decomposition of thatch at the soil level as the plugs dissolve back into the soil. Core plug aerating also helps relieve soil compaction. Instead of puncturing the soil, the divot or plug segments are removed from the topsoil so the surrounding areas have room to expand, which, in turn, also creates more room for the grass roots.

If done at the wrong time, lawn aerating can also be one of the worse things you can do to your lawn. Lawn aerating is a violent, invasive procedure performed on the root level of the turf, so it should only be performed during high growing times of the year. For most lawns this will typically be the spring and fall, however high growth periods can vary not only by region, but also by grass species so be sure to identify your grass type and its expected growth patterns.

As well, not all lawns need aerated. Unless affected by heavy thatch or exposed to heavy traffic, sandier soils are sufficiently loose enough for strong root growth. In fact, between worms, insects and freezing and thawing, most soils stay sufficiently loose. Over a few years, however, lawns with heavier clay content or heavy traffic may start to display signs of compacting. Also, newly seeded or sodded grass should not be aerated within the first year, nor should aeration be performed more than once per year.

Share your experience with lawn aerating or if you'd like more information.