Let it Breathe – The Top 7 Benefits of Aerating Your Lawn


It takes a lot of dedicated work to have a truly luscious, vibrantly green lawn.

There are several important steps you need to adhere to stand any chance of success.

And the one that is often overlooked – is aeration.

Perhaps that’s because it can be time-consuming, back-breaking work.

Maybe folks think their lawn doesn’t need it.

Some might not even fully understand what it is.

In this article, we explore the top seven benefits of aerating your lawn – and why you should include it as part of any turf care routine.

Let’s dig in.

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The Benefits of Aeration – Too Long, Didn’t Read

We all lead busy lives, so if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to read the rest of this article, here are the best arguments for aerating your lawn.

It relieves the compacted soil, it reduces the need for dethatching, it helps new seeds take hold and germinate, it can help to control and prevent weeds, improves drainage, and overall lawn health and aesthetic.

Of course, there’s much more to it than that, so read on as we explore the benefits in a bit more detail.

lawn aeration vector before and after

What is Lawn Aerating?

Just in case anyone is still confused as to what aerating actually is, without going into too much detail here, let me explain.

Lawn aerating is the process of poking holes in your lawn with a machine or tool designed for the job.

Over time, with heavy snowfall, and a lot of foot traffic, the soil in our lawns can seriously compact, and this is the solution.

There are two types of lawn aeration.

  • Spiked aeration is when you use something with metal tines to poke holes in the soil.
  • Plug aeration is when you use a tool that actually lifts “plugs” of soil out of the turf.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part, they will achieve the same results.

Whichever method you’re a fan of, it’s certainly preferable to never aerating your soil at all.

The Tools You’ll Need

There are a number of different tools you can use to aerate your lawn, from a simple garden fork, to heavy-duty gas-powered machines.

You can even use strap-on footwear spikes, so you can aerate your lawn as you walk across it.

For more information, see this article on the best lawn aerators on the market.

And you can also watch the video below for a visual guide on how to properly aerate your lawn.

The Top 7 Reasons to Aerate Your Lawn

It Relieves Compact Soil

Perhaps the most important benefit of lawn aeration is that it allows the soil to breathe – or rather, the grass itself to breathe.

Decompacting the soil increases air flow, which in turn allows vital nutrients and water to penetrate right down to the roots.

Tight, compact soil can choke the life out of grass, and starve it of food and water sources. This is easily identified if you have bare spots, and/or areas of patchy, thinning, or discolored grass.

Your lawn – like all plants – requires three vital nutrients. Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium – often shortened to “NPK” after their chemical symbols.

After loosening the soil with aeration, you can use fertilizer to stimulate lawn growth, and the nutrients contained within will be able to reach where they are most needed.

Remember, it’s a good idea to get your soil tested, so you will know exactly what is lacking and the right feed/fertilizer for the job.

It Reduces Thatch

Another advantage to aerating your lawn is that it can significantly reduce thatch on the surface.

Thatch is dead grass, debris, and other material that forms on your lawn over time, and can cause problems if it’s not dealt with.

A properly aerated lawn will reduce the need to dethatch your lawn, which can be just as back-breaking and time-consuming as aerating itself.

Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the differences between aerating and dethatching and which one is better for your lawn.

You can also click this link to look at some of the best dethatching tools available. Even with aeration, dethatching is still a vital step towards a rich, green, healthy lawn.

beautiful house with green grass front-yard lawn

Overseeding Benefits

If you’re looking to improve the look and color of your existing lawn, or you want to touch up a few bald spots, then overseeding should be your tactic of choice.

This is the process of adding more seeds to your established grass, in order to encourage new growth, choke out weeds, and repair any damage.

While you don’t need to aerate your lawn for this, it’s highly recommended by landscape and lawn professionals.

Overseeding after aeration will allow the seed to get deep into the soil – rather than just stay on the surface.

This gives them a much better chance of germinating, as they will be in a warm and moist environment that provides optimum conditions for success.

That, and they’re more protected from birds and animals on the hunt for an easy meal with seed simply scattered on the topsoil.

Top tip – if you are overseeding, and you think you’ll have a problem with birds, put a fake owl in your yard. We have one guarding our vegetable patch and there’s not a winged beast in sight.

It Helps Control and Prevent Weeds

In conversation with a more experienced gardener than I, we were discussing the merits of lawn aeration, and whether I should do it or not.

“Do you get a lot of dandelions?”

“Yes.”

“Aerate your lawn.”

It was that simple.

Lawn aeration helps prevent weeds by loosening the soil and not allowing the pesky, undesirable plants to take hold, and the hope is that new seeds or existing grass will simply crowd them out.

Furthermore, if you’re using a lawn-friendly weed killer, aeration will help it to get right down into the soil and be more effective – just as it does with air, water, and fertilizer.

Try some of these suggestions if you want to learn how to get rid of lawn weeds without using harsh chemicals.

lawn aerator machine in garden

Improves Drainage and Water Run-Off

Have you ever looked out onto your lawn and seen a flood plain?

Perhaps you’ve thought your partner has put in a swimming pool and not told you?

Lawns with poor aeration can become total quagmires after even the briefest of rain showers, so you can imagine what happens after several days of heavy downpour.

But that’s easily remedied, and another great reason as to why you should aerate your lawn.

Drainage and surface runoff will be improved, ensuring you don’t have large puddles or areas of stubborn, stagnant water that never seem to flow away.

Likewise, if you’re watering your lawn, and you see puddles where you shouldn’t – a spot of aeration in these troublesome areas can work wonders.

Protection Against Drought

Good aeration will also allow your lawns to better withstand times of drought, or particularly hot weather.

If it’s not going to rain for several months, and/or you’re not keen on properly watering your lawn all the time, aeration can help the soil retain any moisture it does happen to suck up.

As such, you’ll have turf that’s well-prepared for those long, hot summers, which is always the time of year most stressful to lawns – no matter where you live.

A Boost to Overall Lawn Health

As a broad, sweeping benefit to aerating your lawn, the fact that it boosts your overall lawn health, color, and thickness should be reason enough to get into the tool shed.

Grass roots will be strengthened, your lawn will be a more vibrant green, and it can even help improve its resistance to insects and disease.

So, when you’re ready to cut the grass in one of these awesome zero-turn mowers, you know your lawn will be able to take it.

It’s also a great way to winterize your lawn, in order to prepare it for a spell of hibernation – most likely under a blanket of snow.

And when the spring comes, you will see a noticeable difference, compared to not aerating at all.

Speaking of, you should read this article on how to jump-start your lawn after winter, and get back to that beautiful, luscious carpet in time for summer entertaining.

lawn aeration shoes

A Word of Caution

With all these awesome benefits to aerating lawns, you would think it a good idea to do it all the time.

You can have too much of a good thing, however, and experts recommended you only aerate once or twice a year.

During the spring and fall is best, but you can also aerate after heavy snows, or if certain areas of the turf are receiving a lot of foot traffic.

Either way, you don’t need to do it regularly – which you’ll be thankful for considering how much hard work it can be.

Check this article for more detailed information on how often you should aerate your lawn.

Summary

There are so many benefits to aerating your lawn that it was tough to pick just seven.

And I think any one of them is enough to convince you not to skip this process in your annual lawn-care regimen.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or if you can think of any other benefits to lawn aeration you’d like to share with the community.

Happy aerating! Let that lawn breathe!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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