What is lawn aeration?

Lawn aeration involves the removal of small soil plugs or cores out of the lawn. Although hand aerators are available, most aeration is done mechanically with a machine having hollow tines or spoons mounted on a disk or drum. Known as a core aerator, it extracts ½ to ¾ inch diameter cores of soil and deposits them on your lawn. Aeration holes are typically 1-6 inches deep and 2-6 inches apart. Other types of aerators push solid spikes or tines into the soil without removing a plug. These are not as effective because they can contribute to compaction. Core aeration is a recommended lawn care practice on compacted, heavily used turf and is used to control thatch buildup.

What will aeration do for my lawn?

As lawns age or sustain heavy use from play, sports activities, pets, vehicle traffic or parking, soil compaction can result. Soil compacting forces are most severe in poorly drained or wet sites. Compaction greatly reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Compaction reduces total pore space and the amount of air within the soil. It has a negative impact on nutrient uptake and water infiltration, in addition to being a physical barrier to root growth. This results in poor top growth and lawn deterioration.


Core aeration can benefit your lawn by:

  • Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose thatch
  • Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil
  • Improving rooting
  • Enhancing infiltration of rainfall or irrigation
  • Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas

What else I need to know:

  • Be sure to mark your sprinkler heads, shallow lines from sprinkler lines, and underground utilities before aerating so they will not be damaged
  • Soil cores are best left on the lawn surface; they will typically work back into the grass in 2-4 weeks
  • Lawns should be aerated once a year