• How to Aerate and Get Better Plugs – 5 Things to Help

    by  • May 8, 2012 • How to Aerate • 4 Comments

    How to aerate a lawnIn my line of work, I have aerated more than 8,000 yards. Every time I aerate a lawn, I learn a little more about how to make it work better, and how to get better plugs. This article has five things that I have personally used to help get better plugs when I aerate my lawn.

    The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that you water your lawn properly the night before you aerate it. You may want to water your lawn for 30 minutes if it is already hard, and has a hard time absorbing water. If water starts to run off the surface, or if your ground is already soggy, you won’t need to water it.

    Another thing that will also help you with lawn aeration is to aerate your lawn in the morning. I think that in the morning, the ground is just softer because the soil temperature is softer. The afternoon is probably the worst time to aerate your lawn, especially after 4 PM. By this time, the soil has reached its highest temperature for the day. As the temperature rises with clay soils, they become harder because they expand.  It’s much softer and easier to aerate if you do it in the morning.

    The third thing you can do is to add all of your weights to your machine. Having the weights in the machine will make the aerator heavier, and give you more pounds per square inch of pressure. This will help you to get deeper plugs when you aerate your lawn.

    The fourth thing that you should do is make sure to push down on your machine. When you push down on the handle, it will bring the front wheel up in the air. This will make sure you have as much weight as possible on the machine when you’re aerating with it. You could also push the machine forward and get slightly better plugs while you’re doing this. It is hard work but it is worth it if you can get an extra half-inch of depth on your plugs.

    The last thing you can do is make sure you have the right kind of lawn aerator. My favorite types of aerators are ones where the engine actually drives the tines into the soil. Usually these are known as hydraulic aerators, and they are bit more expensive to rent. Even with your standard aerator, you can get pretty good plugs if you follow the first four tips. My favorite mechanical aerator is the Ryan IV. I also like the Bluebird 424 model because it only has four sets of tines across the back, and so it actually penetrates a bit deeper into the soil.

    4 Responses to How to Aerate and Get Better Plugs – 5 Things to Help

    1. September 21, 2012 at 2:06 am

      Great tips! I just had my lawn aerated for the first time recently and they did a horrible job – only 1 inch penetration – granted I have crummy clay soil and I now know I should have watered more before they came out. 🙂 I’ll have to look into some low cost aerators I can use myself next time. Know a good site for lawn aerators? 😉

      • spencer
        January 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm

        Try watering your lawn before having it aerated, lol! We have a great post on this site about how to get 2-3 inch plugs. You should read it. Buying your own aerator isn’t going to automatically mean you get the best plugs. I would recommend calling 5 or 6 rental companies. Old aerators work well and are only about 400-500. Sometimes you can even buy them only slightly used!

    2. Laura
      August 24, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      Do you need to aerate your lawn two or three times from different directions or us one pass enough?

      • spencer
        August 11, 2016 at 6:53 pm

        Great question. Most people don’t aerate there lawns very often. If you fall in this category, two passes is a great idea and it should help to improve your root system. If you already aerate your lawn twice a year, and you are getting 3+ inches of plugs, then one pass is enough.

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