Lawn Aeration

Lawn Aerating

Annual lawn aeration is the secret to making your lawn healthy, lush and green. You could simply aerate a lawn area and after a few weeks without having applied fertilizers at all, notice a dramatic increase in color, growth pattern and density.

Water and air are very important to the soil ecosystem, and  to the health of the soils micro-organisms that naturally break down thatch in healthy lawns. Good drainage conditions and ensuring an adequate amount of air in the topsoil are essential so grass roots can breathe and grow. When air reaches the coil level, a gaseous exchange can take place: the grass roots take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Accumulations of carbon dioxide in the soil can restrict root development and limit the intake of water and nutrients.

What Is Lawn Aeration?

Aerating your lawn is one of the best horticultural services you can have done to your lawn. Aeration is the mechanical removal of small 2” plugs of your lawn, thatch layer, and soil. When the plug of soil and lawn are removed, they leave many small holes in your lawn about the size of your finger. These holes allow air, water, and fertilizer directly into the root zone, and also allow new grass to develop in these holes. The plugs, or “cores” are left on top of the lawn and naturally break down and reincorporate back into the soil. Aeration is done routinely on golf courses and sports fields, and is the main reason for their thick, healthy lawns.

Benefits Of Aeration

Aerating your lawn provides many horticultural benefits to your turf. The main benefit is allowing air, water, and fertilizer directly to the root system of the lawn, by way of the holes that aerating creates.

The plugs that are removed from the lawn are also a beneficial part of aerating. The plugs themselves contain harmless bacteria and microorganisms, that helps breakdown organic matter like thatch and dead grass blades.

By aerating your lawn you provide the following benefits to your lawn and its root system:

  • Thickens the lawn
  • Allows new grass blades to develop
  • Reduces soil compaction, allowing roots to grow
  • Improves drainage and reduces standing water problems
  • Allows water, air, and fertilizer into the root zone.
  • Reduces thatch build up
  • Allows new seeds to have direct soil contact to increase rooting depth
  • Improves nutrient uptake
  • Improves gaseous exchange between the soil and atmosphere
  • Stimulates the soil borne microbes and their activity
  • Strengthens and deepens the root system
  • Absorbs rain water better
  • Reduced heat/drought stress (if done before the drought)
  • Disrupts soil layering

How Do I Know If I Need To Aerate?

There are a few easy ways to know if you need to aerate your lawn. First is a simple test, just dig a small section out of your lawn about 6” deep, and if the root system is less than 3” you may need to aerate your lawn. The second would be if you have any one of these conditions:

  • If you have clay soil
  • If your lawn is heavily used
  • If your lawn is driven on
  • If you have a thatch lawyer more than ½”

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Aerate?

For lawns in Illinois and Indiana, which are primarily a blend of Kentucky Bluegrass and perennial Ryegrass, aeration should only be done in Spring or Fall, but exact timing depends upon the year and climate conditions. For the best results when aerating, the soil needs to be somewhat moist, but not saturated. Trying to aerate dry soil is like trying to poke a hole in concrete, it doesn’t work. The moist soil allows for the tines of the machine to penetrate into the soil and remove a deeper plug, which increases the benefit of the aeration service. No mater your lawn type or soil type, we recommend avoiding aeration in the hot summer months of June and July.

How Often Should I Aerate?

Aeration should be done at least once a year on most lawns, with two aerations being optimal. A good practice for the health of your lawn would be to aerate every spring and fall. There are other horticultural factors that may require you to aerate more often, such as a thatch or drainage issue.

How Does Aeration Relieve Compaction?

Lawn compaction can be one of the worst enemies to a healthy lawn. Compaction can be caused in any lawn from everyday things like riding lawn mowers, lots of foot traffic, and kid’s playing, or from the unusual such as construction equipment or parking a car on the lawn. If your lawn is very wet or very dry when these things occur, the compaction can be much greater. Compacting a lawn presses the soil particles together, greatly reducing the size of the pore space within the soil that normally contains air and water. The root system of your lawn requires oxygen to absorb water and nutrients, both essential to root growth. A compacted lawn will not get the vital oxygen it needs and the top blades of the lawn will start to decline. Aeration will open up new pores in the soil and allow large amounts of oxygen into the soil again, thus, energizing the process of new grass development.

Do I Need To Aerate If I De-Thatched?

In short, yes. Aeration and de-thatching are two different services providing two different sets of benefits. While aeration does remove some thatch, de-thatching does not provide any of the benefits of aeration. Aeration is highly recommended every year, whereas de-thatching, or “power-raking” should only be done when there is an excess of thatch.

Are There Different Kinds Of Aerating?

Yes. In most professional equipment the times are hollow or spoon-shaped, allowing for the removal of a plug of soil, thatch, and grass. Other types of aeration include spiking and slicing, neither of which remove a plug of soil. Spiking of the lawn, which uses a solid spike instead of a hollow tine, can actually increase compaction around the edges of the hole. Additionally, there are vertical and drum type aerators, which also produce different results. Vertical coring aeration results in a cleaner, more effective aeration job.

For this reason, we use the revolutionary "Ryan Lawnaire 28" core aerator.  This machine is the top of the line machine and the only brand machine that uses vertical piston driven spoons to remove the cores.  Making it by far the most beneficial type of machine available for lawn aeration.

Aerating Tips

  • Do not aerate during periods of drought as holes can crack open.
  • Watering the lawn the night before aerating can make it easier to aerate a very dense lawn.
  • Prior to aerating, it is best to mow the lawn really low, ideally the day before
  • Aeration is best carried out when the soil is moist, but not wet.
  • Newly seeded or sodded lawns do not need aeration
  • Fertilizer or grass seed can be applied directly after aerating
  • If you have sprinkler heads, they need to be marked before we aerate
  • It is difficult to aerate heavy clay soils or around tree roots
  • You cable television cable may be buried to shallow and may get cut
  • Soil cores on the lawn with breakdown with 2-3 weeks

What Does Lawn Aeration Cost?

Like many services we offer, the cost depends on the size of your lawn. Aeration for small lawns, such as under 4,000 square feet can be as low as $70. Larger lawns can run a little more, but even some of the biggest residential lawns should be under $200. We often run aeration "specials" or discounts in our advertising. Check the Specials & Discounts" page on our site for aeration deals. For an estimate on aerating your lawn, please call our office or request a quote online.

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Tony Davis
2015-07-19, 11:07
Thank you for saving my basement and my sanity. You guys really know your stuff, especially with the drainage stuff. I don't know if I mentioned this … read more
Robert Bergeron
2015-06-04, 10:40
You came highly recommended from our neighbors, and we couldn't be happier. Our back yard is an oasis. And the fireplace is wonderful at night! Thank … read more
David Sanders
2015-06-29, 16:56
A quick thank you for going the extra mile, our place looks better than it has in years. We appreciate it very much.