Aerating, also known as coring or aerifying, can make a significant difference in the health and appearance of lawns because it allows air, water, and nutrients to properly penetrate grass roots. This helps roots to grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.
If aerating is new to you, here’s an overview to help you understand what it is, why it works, and the best time of year for aeration.
What is aerating?
Aerating does what you might expect it to do…and more. It perforates the soil with small holes to loosen compacted soil and allow air to get through to grass roots, which also allows water and nutrients to get to the roots more easily.
There are two main tools used for aerating: a spike aerator and a plug aerator. A spike aerator pokes holes into the ground with a solid tine or fork, while plug aerators remove a core or plug of grass and soil from the lawn. Since spike aerators simply poke holes, they tend to be less effective and can actually cause additional compaction in the areas around the holes. Plug aerators are much more effective in getting air to the roots (which is why we use them!), and there’s an added benefit that comes with having the soil cores break down on the surface of your lawn.
Sure, you’ll end up with some cores of soil all over the lawn with a plug aerator, but they break down in just a few weeks anyway. If you really don’t like the look of those plugs, you can use a levelling rake to break up the cores on site and spread them to lower-lying areas of the lawn.
TIP: If you’re planning to apply grass seed or fertilizer to your lawn, the ideal time to do so is right after you’ve aerated your lawn.
Should I aerate my lawn?
It’s easy to recognize when you need to cut, fertilize, or weed your lawn, but it’s not always as easy to spot the need for aeration. That is, unless you know the telltale signs.
You now know the general purpose of aerating is to loosen compacted soil. These are some of the most common reasons your soil will need some extra help to loosen up:
When is the best time to aerate my lawn?
It’s best to aerate your lawn just before or during periods of high growth, but not immediately before or during stressful periods such as extreme heat or drought. When aerating during the growing season, the grass can easily heal and fill in any open areas after soil plugs are removed.
The type of grasses that make up your lawn will also play a role in determining when you’ll want to aerate. Cool-season grasses found in Ontario (e.g., Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass) should be aerated during the spring or fall growing seasons.
If in the spring, you can reduce the risk of weed competition (by bringing buried weed seeds to the surface with plugs) by applying fertilizer and pre-emergent weed killer after aeration. We don’t recommend applying a weed killer if you’re planning to overseed after aeration, though. Weed killers can prevent germination of the seed you’re putting down.
If in the fall, it’s best to aerate early enough in the season to allow the turf to recover before it needs to prepare for winter dormancy.
TIP: Watering after you’ve aerated the lawn is always a good idea.
Not sure if aerating is right for your lawn? Think it is and want to get a quote?
Get in touch and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have.