We know it’s important to aerate our lawns, right?
But just how often is the right amount?
Is there such thing as too often?
Let’s take a closer look at how to work out if your lawn needs aerating and how often to aerate lawn for best results.
- Key Points
- How Often to Aerate Lawn
- When to Aerate Lawn
- Will it cause damage to aerate too often?
- What happens if I don’t aerate my lawn?
- What time of year should you aerate your lawn?
- Should I aerate or dethatch first?
- When should I not aerate my lawn?
- Should I mow my lawn before aerating?
- Is it ok to aerate a wet lawn?
- Should I pick up the plugs after aerating?
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- Your lawn will probably only need aerating once or twice per year.
- When you aerate depends on the type of grass you have.
- In general, aerating during the growing season is the best approach.
Keep reading to understand these points in a little more detail.
How Often to Aerate Lawn
We know that aerating your lawn is a good thing to do. But is there such thing as aerating too often?
Many people end up wondering: how often should I aerate my lawn?
The answer depends on the health of your lawn, your soil type and what kind of activity happens on the lawn.
A healthy lawn with good quality soil should only need aerating once per year at the absolute most.
If the soil is a little more loose and sandy, or the lawn doesn’t really get any foot traffic and is at low risk of compaction, then even less frequently is probably fine – think once every two or three years.
However, if you have heavy, clay soil, live in an area with high rainfall, or the lawn gets a lot of foot traffic and gets easily compacted, then more often may be necessary.
You can also be guided by the health of your lawn.
If there are no dead patches, no issues with excessive thatch, no puddling of rain water on the surface of the lawn, and the grass generally appears lush and healthy, you can probably give the aerating a miss.
But should you ever aerate your lawn more than twice per year?
Probably not. Aerating comes with a lot of benefits for your lawn (read all about them here), but there is such thing as too much.
Even though aerating is helping your lawn maintain good health, it still puts it under stress. It takes a little time for the lawn to recover from this stress and reap the benefits of aeration in order to thrive.
If you aerate too often and the lawn doesn’t get a chance to recover from the stress, it won’t experience any of the benefits. Instead, it’ll just get progressively less healthy.
Furthermore, if you’re using plug aerator, eventually you’ll be digging up so many plugs that you basically will have tilled your lawn – not ideal! (Learn more about the difference between spike and plug aerators here.)
Remember, less is more when it comes to aeration – if you’re not sure, stick to once per year to be safe.
When to Aerate Lawn
Now that you know how often, surely you’re wondering, when should lawn be aerated?
After all, if you’re only going to aerate your lawn once per year, when you do it is probably pretty important, right?
The best time to aerate your lawn is during the growing season of your grass type.
There are many different types of grass.
Warm season grasses typical have their active growth phase during the warm late spring and summer months.
You can aerate a warm season lawn any time from late spring to late summer. But, earlier is usually better so that the lawn can have time to recover from the aerating in order to benefit while it is still actively growing, before it goes dormant.
Cool season grasses usually have their active growth phase during fall and spring, or even winter if you live in a region with mild winters.
For this reason, the best time to aerate a cool season lawn is late spring or fall.
Notice that we say late spring not early spring – the reason for this is that you don’t want to aerate your lawn at the same time that all of the weeds are springing up – the little holes you leave in the lawn will be the perfect home for an opportunistic weed.
If you’re pretty confident that you’re ready to aerate your lawn now, be sure to have a read of my article on the best lawn aerators and also understand the difference between the types of aerators available so that you choose the best aerator for your lawn.
If you need to brush up on your aeration knowledge a little further, I have a lawn aeration guide that will help you on your way.
Will it cause damage to aerate too often?
Can you aerate your lawn too much? Yes. Aerating your lawn too often is bad for it. Any more than once or twice per year is probably unnecessary and will cause undue stress.
What happens if I don’t aerate my lawn?
The main risk to not ever aerating your lawn is the soil getting compacted over time. Once soil is compacted, the grass can’t easily access the water and nutrients that it requires, causing it to decline in health. You might notice dead patches once this happens.
What time of year should you aerate your lawn?
What time of year you should aerate your lawn depends on whether you have cool or warm season grass varieties. If you have cool season the grasses, the best time to aerate is late spring or fall. For warm season grasses the best time to aerate is late spring or summer.
Should I aerate or dethatch first?
As a general rule, it is better to dethatch and then aerate.
(Not sure about the difference between dethatching and aerating? Read about it here.)
When should I not aerate my lawn?
There are various times that you should not aerate your lawn, for example, when the grass is dormant and not actively growing, when the soil is too wet, too dry, or in early spring as the holes will invite weed growth.
It’s best to avoid the heat of summer too as that is already a high-stress time for most grass types.
Should I mow my lawn before aerating?
Yes, you should mow your lawn before aerating. It’s also a good idea to cut a little lower than normal too – think 1.5 – 2 inches long.
Is it ok to aerate a wet lawn?
Yes, it is ok to aerate a wet lawn, provided it is not so wet that the soil is really heavy and sticky. If there are puddles on the lawn or the holes from the aerator fill with water then the ground is too wet.
Bear in mind it’s also not a good idea to aerate a completely dry lawn. You need a bit of moisture to hold the soil together.
Should I pick up the plugs after aerating?
No! Soil plugs contain lots of beneficial nutrients and microorganisms that will break down and feed the soil. Leaving them behind is best practice, they will break down in a few weeks.
Hopefully, you found this article useful and you are comfortable with the ins and outs of how often to aerate lawn and when.
Remember, less is more when it comes to aeration. Stick to once per year if you’re not sure. Up it to twice if you lawn is still experiencing a little surface flooding in the winter – just don’t aerate while the lawn is too wet!
How often do you aerate your lawn? Did you find this article helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts!