How Do You Know If You Should Aerate Your Lawn?

If your grass is thinning or brown, puddles after watering, or you see thatch build up it could be time to aerate your lawn. Using an aerator (which looks like a big hole punch) you can remove small plugs of soil, which will later decompose.

Aerating your lawn by Lawn Aeration High Point should be done in late summer or fall, for both cool-season and warm-season grasses. Spring aeration can unearth weed seeds, and compromise the chemical barrier of crabgrass preventers.

Soil Compaction

Soil compaction happens when the particles of soil become pressed tightly together. This is usually a larger problem for public spaces like parks and fields that experience heavy foot traffic, but even homeowners aren’t immune. The weight of a riding lawn mower traveling over the same area week after week can compact the soil, especially in high-traffic areas.

The problem with compacted soil is that it prevents water and nutrients from flowing freely through the soil. This can cause a number of different issues for your lawn, including thinning grass and stunted growth. It can also inhibit the activity of earthworms, which is important for recycling nutrients and aerating the soil.

Another issue that can occur is that the soil becomes too dense to hold the roots of your grass. This can lead to thin and patchy lawns that are difficult to maintain. The good news is that soil compaction is easy to repair with core aeration and topdressing.

When soil is compacted, the lack of pore space means that oxygen cannot flow through the soil. This hinders the decomposition of organic material, which is critical for healthy soil. It can also affect the movement of water and nutrients through the soil, causing problems such as poor drainage.

There are many causes of soil compaction, and it is usually caused by constant pressure on the soil over a long period of time. This can happen from building construction, foot and vehicle traffic, or heavy snow for extended periods of time. In addition, repeated tilling of the same area can compact the soil as well.

Soil compaction can also be caused by the type of soil that you have, with clay soils being more susceptible to compaction than sandy soils. Adding organic matter to the soil can help alleviate some of the compaction, but core aeration is the most effective way to get rid of it completely.

One way to test for compaction is to take a screwdriver and push it into the ground. If it penetrates easily, then the soil is not too compacted. The best time to do this is early in the morning or a day after a rain event, as moist soil is easier to dig through.

Dead Grass

If your grass is brown or dead, it’s not getting the air, water and nutrients it needs to grow. Aerating your lawn opens up the soil so these things can flow to the roots. The process works especially well in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, kids and pets.

Aeration can also help to remove thatch, a layer of living and dead turfgrass tissue that accumulates on top of the soil. Thatch inhibits the flow of essential ingredients like air and water to grass roots, so removing it with an aerator can help your lawn thrive.

The best time to aerate is when the lawn is in its active growing season. This will ensure that the holes created by the aerator are filled quickly by the new grass seed. Cool-season grasses such as fescue and Kentucky bluegrass do best when aerated in spring or fall. Warm-season grasses, such as zoysiagrass and bermudagrass do better when aerated in late spring through summer.

Avoid aerating when the soil is dry, as this will only cause stress to your lawn. Also, it’s not a good idea to punch holes in your lawn after you’ve applied pre-emergent herbicide for crabgrass or weed prevention. Doing so will ruin the chemical barrier that those herbicides create.

The best way to determine if your soil needs aerating is by conducting a simple test. Grab a shovel and dig into the soil in an area of your yard. If the soil feels dense and has a spongy texture, it’s time to aerate. If the soil is loose and easy to penetrate, it’s fine. You’ll want to aerate every year for most lawns, but this is dependent on your climate and grass type. If you have heavy clay soil or your lawn experiences a lot of foot traffic, it may need to be aerated more frequently. Aerating your lawn on a regular basis will keep the soil healthy and promote thick, beautiful grass. It’s a small investment that will pay off big dividends in the long run. When your grass has all of the essential ingredients it needs, it will be able to fight off weeds and disease and withstand even the harshest weather conditions.


Weeds are unwanted plants that grow in the places of grass or other plants, usually where they are not wanted. Weeds compete with grass and other plants for space, water, air and nutrients. They often choke out other plants and prevent them from growing and producing food. They can also act as parasites and drain the life force from the other plants. Some weeds are toxic to humans or animals.

Weed seeds can come from several sources, including poor quality grass seed, soil brought in for new plantings or from cracks in roads, sidewalks or driveways. They are opportunistic, meaning they will grow where conditions are favorable and can thrive in bare or thin turf areas or even in cracks in the pavement. They also produce thousands of seeds, which can be spread by the wind or other methods.

Some weeds are considered invasive and can completely take over lawns and gardens, choking out other vegetation and depriving them of sunlight, nutrients and moisture. They can also shelter pests that can then spread to other plants and cause further damage.

Aerating the soil helps with weed control by making it more difficult for weeds to germinate. It also improves the availability of nutrients by allowing them to reach the roots of the grass. However, aerating the soil can bring up weed seeds from the lower layers of the ground. This can be a serious problem for lawns that are already weedy, and an application of preemergence herbicide should be considered after aerating the soil.

The best way to avoid weed problems is to perform routine lawn care services that encourage thick, healthy growth that naturally chokes out weeds. Overseeding at the time of aeration, proper fertilization and regularly applying lime help to thicken the lawn over time, along with regular mowing.

It is important to know the difference between a weed and a desirable plant, as some weeds provide valuable functions. For example, the flowers of wild lilac (Syringa vulgaris) attract bees and other pollinators, while the leaves of the common lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) are a nutritious green for both people and livestock. Other weeds can also provide erosion control, protect the soil surface from crusting or erosion, and offer shade that helps retain moisture for other plants.


The puddles on your lawn, thatch buildup and dead grass are a few signs that it’s time to aerate. Aerating alleviates soil compaction, which prevents air, water and nutrients from penetrating into the roots of your grass. Keeping the soil loose and supple will help grass roots grow thicker and healthier, reducing disease and drought stress.

Heavy traffic, outdoor entertaining and backyard soccer games can compact the soil underneath your lawn. This compaction makes it difficult for the grass to access the essentials, and this can lead to thinning turf and a brick-hard feel underfoot. Aeration is one way to relieve this soil compaction, and it’s the best time to aerate for cool-season grasses like fescue, rye or bluegrass as well as warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, zoysia and bermudagrass.

Aerating is a treatment that involves punching or "coring" holes into the surface of your lawn to break up and disperse the layers of tightly packed dirt that are obstructing the roots' ability to receive the nutrients and moisture they need. Aeration also helps prevent excess thatch, a buildup of living and dead grass material that restricts the flow of nutrients and water to the roots, which can cause the grass to turn brown and die.

If the soil on your property is heavy or has a high clay content, you might need to aerate more frequently. This is particularly true if the lawn gets heavy foot traffic and you'll want to consider annual aeration for these types of lawns.

Before aerating, be sure to mark sprinkler heads and shallow utility lines so that you don't accidentally punch them during the process. Also, make sure to water the lawn a few days before aerating to ensure that the tines of the machine are able to penetrate the soil. If you are using a pre-emergent crabgrass control or weed prevention product in spring, aerating the lawn too early could disrupt the chemical barrier and cause unnecessary weeds to germinate. The ideal season to aerate is fall, after the heaviest use of your lawn during summer.

If your grass is thinning or brown, puddles after watering, or you see thatch build up it could be time to aerate your lawn. Using an aerator (which looks like a big hole punch) you can remove small plugs of soil, which will later decompose. Aerating your lawn by Lawn Aeration High Point should be…