You’ve Aerated Your Lawn – Now What? (Top Tips & Advice)

Most gardeners will agree that aerating a lawn is essential to alleviate compaction and help water and nutrients get right down to the grassroots. Aeration is beneficial to your lawn.

But aeration is only part of the process.

It can be tricky knowing what to do next to ensure that the process of aeration is highly effective.

Is it tricky, or is it simple to transition from lawn aeration to the next step?

As it turns out, what to do after you aerate your lawn isn’t all that tricky! And it all comes down to timing.

After all, if you leave your lawn aeration and the subsequent lawn treatment steps too late, you may just end up with soil temperatures that drop too low, negatively impacting seed germination and essentially damaging your lawn’s health.

Lawn care after aeration is fairly simple. It only requires you to follow a few simple steps.

In this post, you’ll learn the basic steps after aerating the lawn that you need to follow to get the best out of your lawn in the following months.

Don’t Have Time to Read? Here’s The Quick Answer!

Good news!

The steps to follow after lawn aeration are simple! Here they are at a glance:

  • Allow the existing soil plugs to break down naturally
  • Overseed the lawn with new grass
  • Apply pre-emergent weed killer if you’re not overseeding
  • Apply a good quality fertilizer
  • Feed grassroots with enough water

lawn aerator attached behind riding mower

5 Steps After Aerating Lawn – in More Detail!

Here’s the deal with lawn care after aeration.

There are just five simple steps after aerating a lawn that you need to follow.

Step 1: Allow the Existing Soil Plugs to Break Down Naturally

After you’ve used a core aerator on your lawn, soil plugs will be cast across your lawn. Your first instinct may be to clean up.

But here’s the catch.

You shouldn’t clear up the soil plugs. As it turns out, soil plugs are not a waste product. Instead, they’re jam-packed with fertilizer and highly useful soil microbes. When you let them break down naturally, the soil plugs give back nutrients to your lawn.

When you leave the soil plugs to do their thing, precipitation and just general access (walking over) to your lawn will break the plugs down, sending air and nutrients into the soil while allowing water and fertilizer to seep into the holes left behind by your core aeration efforts.

Step 2: Overseed the Lawn with New Grass

Using a core aerator will leave 2-to-3-inch holes evenly spaced across your lawn.

What does that tell you?

It tells you that you now have perfect holes to shelter grass seeds and help them take root. They will be safe from birds and other critters that usually target grass seeds as food.

Once you’ve aerated your lawn, spread the grass seed evenly with the help of a broadcast spreader. You can also hand-scatter seeds over patches that have become sparse or are dying out.

man holding grass seed in hand

Step 3: Apply Pre-emergent Weed Killer if You’re Not Overseeding

Here’s where some people go wrong, so listen up!

You cannot apply a pre-emergent weed killer because you want to keep weeds at bay if you’re overseeding your lawn. That’s because pre-emergent weed killers will stop the growth of both weed and grass seeds for as long as six weeks after application.

As it turns out, a pre-emergent weed killer doesn’t discriminate – it deters the growth of everything!


What’s the most important takeaway here? Herbicides are more effective when applied immediately after lawn aeration.

Step 4: Apply a Good Quality Fertilizer

If your lawn is already healthy, you should apply an organic fertilizer high in nitration directly after aerating.

Here’s the deal with fertilizing after aeration.

Soil recently aerated can draw fertilizer down deeper into the ground, where grassroots are more effectively fed.

What’s the best fertilizer pick?

Look for a good quality fertilizer that releases nitrogen over an extended period of time and won’t burn your grass. For recently overseeded areas, lawn-starter fertilizers are a good choice.

Do you know what the best thing is?

Your aeration efforts have left convenient holes in the lawn, which enables fertilizer to penetrate the soil better, and also stops the fertilizer from washing off if there’s rainy weather or blowing away on a windy day!

lawn fertilizer in spreader attached to riding lawnmower

Step 5: Feed Grassroots with Enough Water

After your lawn has been thoroughly aerated, it’s time to start deep watering. You should aim to do this at least twice per week and allow the watering sessions to run for 30 to 60 minutes.

What’s the deal with deep watering after aerating lawn?

It boosts root growth for existing plants and new seeds – so it’s a double whammy.

A proper watering schedule will ensure any failing grass is more effectively revived.

Treating Lawn After Aeration – The Lowdown on Lawn Care After Aeration

To summarize the process, there are five things you need to do once you’ve aerated your lawn. First, let the soil plugs break down naturally.

Then, either use emergent weed killer or overseed your lawn.

You need to act pretty quickly because you should fertilize your lawn within 48 hours of aeration.

The next step, of course, is fertilizing, followed by deep watering twice a week.

How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

How often you aerate your lawn really comes down to what type of soil you have.

Heavy clay soil and high-traffic areas should be aerated at least once a year.

Sandy soil or very healthy lawn should be aerated at least every 2 to 3 years.

aerator attached to riding lawnmower


Can you walk on lawn after aeration?

No, you shouldn’t walk on your lawn after you have just aerated it. In fact, one of the steps after aerating your lawn should be to not walk on it.

Walking on the lawn will cause compaction and it can prevent seeds from sprouting and the soil from getting all the oxygen and nutrients it would otherwise get if the area was left to “rest” for a while.

Should I pick up plugs after aerating?

No, you should not pick up the plugs after aerating the lawn.

After a few days, the plugs should have broken down completely, aided by deep watering and exposure to the elements.

It won’t take long for the plugs to be completely unnoticeable on your lawn.

What should I put on my lawn after aerating?

Here’s the clincher.

Not all fertilizers are made equal.

This means you must choose the right fertilizer after aerating the lawn.

What does it matter?

Suppose you’ve got pets or are sensitive to products and chemicals yourself. In that case, you may find that products containing glyphosate and 2,4 Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) can be ingested or breathed in and lead to adverse reactions such as breathing difficulties, nausea, and vomiting.

Some fertilizers may be too strong and burn your lawn.

Applying a slow-release fertilizer directly after lawn aeration is the most effective way of getting nutrients down to the grassroots.

This will help your lawn establish itself for the upcoming summer heat. The well-fertilized lawn will be thick and lush too.

applying lawn fertilizer to green lawn

Should I mow before or after aeration?

Aeration is most effective on a lawn that has slightly moist soil. Avoid mowing lawns directly after aeration.

Aim to mow before aeration and consider scattering seed and fertilizer over the lawn after aeration.

This ensures that your seeds can germinate and establish healthy roots before you need to mow again.

Can I mow right after aerating?

No, you should avoid mowing right after aerating your lawn, especially if you’re overseeding it.

Your next lawn mow should be in two to four weeks.

How long does it take for aeration to work?

The aeration process itself only takes around two hours. Of course, this depends on the size of your lawn.

The breaking down of the soil plugs is when the real magic is happening – this takes around two weeks. It’s best not to walk on the area for at least two weeks to let this happen naturally.

Should I water my lawn after aerating?

The question of watering begs to be answered. When should you water your lawn once the aeration is complete?

Once your lawn has been aerated, you need to drench it as soon as possible. It is important to keep the soil moist for seed germination.

If you let the soil dry out, it could have a negative impact on your lawn.

What kind of fertilizer to use after aeration?

You should aim to fertilize your lawn within 48 hours of lawn aeration. While there are many good brands of nitrogen fertilizer on the market, Milorganite is a decent brand preferred by many.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to aerate your lawn regularly, depending on what type of soil you have. Following the five simple steps above will make your lawn care after aeration the most effective.

What’s your experience with lawn aeration? Share your tips, advice and comments below!

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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