To Poke or Not To Poke? The Basics of Aeration

Is poking holes in your lawn really a necessity and will anyone actually notice if you skip this step? In this article we will go over what aeration is, who needs it and when.

What is aeration?

Before I gained the knowledge working for a landscaping company, I did think aerating was just poking holes in the lawn. In fact, there is a type of aeration that does just this and it is called spike aeration. Spike aeration is intended to work out the kinks in soil drainage problems. It’s not quite as common, or even necessary, in lawn care as plug aeration where the soil is perforated and 1” round plugs are removed and left on the lawn. Using the plug aeration technique, the grass roots are able to get a burst of oxygen and nutrients which strengthen the roots. Built up thatch will be broken up and the soil is then able to absorb water effectively, assure the roots are receiving water and reduce water run-off or puddling.

Immediately after the aeration service you will want to rake all the plugs up if you have a compulsive personality but it’s better to refrain because removing the plugs can actually cause browning of your lawn and remove vital nutrients. You see, the plugs will, within a few weeks, disappear back into the reinvigorated lawn through continued watering, regular mowing and general use.

Who needs aeration?

Speaking of general use, how do you use your lawn? Do you walk over it to get to your garden? Do the kids play and run around in the grass? Do you have pets who like to run around in sporadic circles and lounge on the grass? All of these things, in addition with regular mowing, cause the grass and soil to get compacted.

This leads to my answer, all well loved lawns need aeration. There are several factors to consider. Does your lawn receive high use? Was your lawn last aerated more than a year ago? Is water puddling or creating a run off when you water? Does your lawn feel spongy when you walk over it? Are the grass blades thin despite watering and fertilizing treatment? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your lawn needs aeration and it needs it now.

When should you aerate?

Aeration can be done at any time of the year during the lawn service season, especially if you answered yes to any of the questions above. (code word: nutrients) If you are annually aerating it is recommended in the spring time and/or at the end of summer.

All in all, will anyone notice if you skip this step? Yes. Aeration is done for the health of your lawn and a healthy lawn is a beautiful lawn.