Aeration is the process of perforating the ground with small holes to let in water, air, and nutrients to the grassroots.
Aeration helps roots grow much deeper and provides enough mineral circulation for a lush, beautiful lawn. All you need for aeration is a good aerator or plugger and some spare time to take care of your lawn. However, some people don’t know how to aerate lawn despite having the best lawn aerator.
What's In This Guide?
How To Know When Your Lawn Needs Aeration
Should you aerate your lawn or not? Your lawn will give signs when it needs aeration. Once you see the following signs, you have to aerate your lawn.
- People and vehicles continuously move to and fro over it.
- It gets dried out quickly and feels spongy. In this case, your lawn may have too much thatch on it. Use a shovel to take out a slice of your lawn and see how much thatch is there. If it is more than 1-2 inches, your lawn needs to be aerated.
- It was part of a newly built house. Building materials and construction traffic would have buried the topsoil and made the grasses compact.
Nevertheless, the best time to aerate your lawn is when it is actively growing, to allow grasses to heal after you expose soil plugs.
How To Aerate Your Lawn
With a plugger
Materials you’ll need
- A shovel
- A watering container
- A shovel
- Some mulch (optional)
Step 1. Use an inch of water to wet your lawn thoroughly a day or two before you start aerating. If your lawn dries quickly, you could do this about 24 hours before aeration. But, if you have a slowly-draining lawn, you can leave it for three days.
Step 2. Hold your aerating tool vertically to the ground and pin it in. Drive your feet over the plugger to push it deeper into the soil. If you are using a hand-driven plugger, use the handle to push its ends into the ground.
Step 3. Pull the plugger out of the ground to release a ball of soil. Depending on the type of device you are using, press the release button to drop the extracted soil. If not, hit the plugger against a solid surface to release the soil.
Step 4. Move 2 to 4 inches away from your current location to repeat this process until you have covered the entire lawn.
Step 5. Ensure that you do this in a straight line, whether in a north-to-south or east-to-west pattern.
Step 6. While you unplug soil plugs, leave the leftover soils on your lawn to allow them to dissolve naturally. This helps to restore nutrients, like nitrogen, to the lawn. If you notice that the lawn looks uneven, you can spread it out with a rake.
Step 7. If you chose to remove the soil plugs, you should cover your lawn with about ½ an inch of organic mulch. This way, the mulch protects your lawn through watering and weather changes to retain its moisture and nutrient content.
Step 8. Sprinkle water over the lawn after you are done with aerating and mulching your lawn.
With an aerator
Using an aerator saves you the stress of plunging a plugger into the lawn and releasing it to extract the soil plugs. It is also faster and more suitable for larger lawns.
Step 1. Get a suitable core aerator. Use a gas-powered rotating aerator that’s big enough for your lawn. The powered core aerator has metal tines that roll over the lawn to punch holes into it. A hollow tine aerator removes the soil as it plugs it out, while solid tines push holes into the ground. Hollow tines are suitable for clay soils, while solid tines can work for sandy lawns.
Step 2. Run a mower through your lawn. Trim grass blades to be shorter, and don’t overdo the cutting. Mark points where you have sprinkler heads, so you don’t trample on them during aeration.
Step 3. Sprinkle some water on the lawn and leave it to soak for some hours before aerating. Your lawn should be moist, not wet.
Step 4. Move the aerator across your yard while avoiding the sprinkler heads and the sidewalk. Your aerator should give you about 20 to 40 holes per square foot.
The Best Manual Lawn Aerators To Use
1. Agri-Fab 45-0365 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator
This push lawn aerator is equipped with five spiky wheels for aerating the lawn. The spikes are 7-inch long, and it is suitable for working on sandy lawns. The setup requires some assembly and mostly comes in color black.
2. Abco Tech Lawn Aerator Shoes
This model has a one-of-a-kind design for punching holes through your lawn with a spiky shoe. The Abco plugging shoe is made to fit all sizes with durable metal straps for adjusting the size. All you need to do is step over the areas you wish to aerate and walk over your entire lawn as well.
3. MTB Aerator Rolling aerator
The MTB aerator model is a heavy-duty push and pull model for making holes through lawns quickly. Twenty-seven nail pieces are separately attached to the main wheeling system and a long metal handle. Each pointed end provides about 2 inches of depth into the soil.