As a landscaper people often ask me, when to aerate a lawn and how often do they need to have it done. The correct answer is that it can vary by where you live, climate, and soil type. For most states, the best time to aerate your lawn is usually in middle of spring or in the late fall. (Learn more about the benefits of fall aeration.)
If I had to choose only one time of year to aerate my lawn, I would do it in the spring. This is because aerating your lawn in the spring will prepare it for summer and this is when you will enjoy your lawn the most! After you aerate, you can also over seed and put down starter fertilizer. Not only that, but when people have a lot of clay in their soil, the soil will expand in the summertime. Aerating with a core aerator, allows the soil room for the soil to expand without compacting the roots. Also springtime aeration helps you develop deeper roots and a thicker turf. A deeper root system also helps in the summer when there is less water. You get the greatest benefit out of your lawn when you aerate in the spring.
When to Aerate Lawn By Climate
For spring aeration the ideal window is March to the end of May. For fall aeration, it is September to October. The ‘perfect time’ to aerate a lawn may also change according to your soil type. If the ground is too soft, it isn’t a good time until is dries up a little. If the ground is too hard it may need watering the night before to get great results.
If you live in a warm coastal states like California or Florida, the perfect time to aerate could be as early as February and as late as November. For the Midwest and the south, summer is a great time to aerate. For best results, aerate often. Lawns aerated on a regular basis have a better root system and produce better plugs.
When to Aerate a Lawn – By Soil Type
If your lawn is hard or has a lot of clay in it you definitely want to aerate in the spring .When you aerate your lawn in the spring go over it 2-3 times and make a lot of holes in your lawn. When summer comes along or when the average daily temperature goes above 70°, clay soils will expand. Normally, this will put a lot of extra compression on the roots and the grass doesn’t grow well in the summer. But if you have aerated your lawn before hand, then the holes in the long will help absorb compaction of the expanding soil. If you live on a hill, or if you have a lot of clay in your soil, it is important to have your lawn aerated every year.
How often should I Aerate my lawn?
Most lawn experts recommend you should aerate a lawn every 1-3 years. Aerating is a great way to save water. (Having grass with deeper roots allows you to water less often and still have a green lawn in the summer.) Some cities and states even offer a mail in rebate for the first time you aerate your lawn.
If your lawn has inclines, pets or active outdoor children you may even need it twice a year. The best time to fertilize and for seeding a lawn is just after you aerate. Particularly for new lawns, turf aeration is very important in helping lawns become established and helping the sod to stick.
Many new home developers scrape off the topsoil when they build a new home and it can take years before soil is naturally healthy again. The best way to make it green and healthy is to aerate it. Also, in many areas new lawns are installed on top of hard clay. A core lawn aerator can speed up the process of soil integration by encouraging roots and grass growth.
If you have bad soil, you should aerate at least once a year for the first five years you own a home. It is very effective to also fertilize and over seed right after aerating. In the spring, applying starter fertilizer after aeration is great way to strengthen the root system and encourage root development. After a lawn is established, most experts still recommend that you aerate once every three years.
When to Aerate Lawns Using Aerating Products
Liquid Aerator- Helps break down clays and conditions the soil for organic growth. Best when used with different types of aeration. Apply in the winter, or anytime after you aerate. These also detoxify and encourage beneficial organic activity in the soil.
Tow behind aerators are best when you need to cover a large property of commercial area. Also they are a cheap alternative to buying an aeration machine. Areas with the most traffis should be gone over twice.
Aeration shoes have small spikes and need to be used often for best results. They can counteract the effects of heavy traffic is garden areas, and can be worn when mowing the lawn.
Hand Aerators- Need to be used before the soil gets too hard or after a long watering period. They are ideal for small lawns and fixing small yellow spots in the yard.
Spike lawn aeration- quick and easy. Work best in loamy soil.
Aerator Rentals are usually moderately priced. But are a quick and effective way to get the job done.
Learn more about lawn aeration.
This page answers the questions of “When to aerate lawn” and “How often to Aerate”