Best Time to Aerate Lawn Spring or Fall?

Just like how air, food and water are necessary to sustain human life, your lawn roots also need all of these for optimal growth. There are several ways to keep your lawn beautiful and healthy, and aeration is one such process.

So, is the best time to aerate lawn spring or fall?

The best time to aerate the lawn is in the fall season. However, it largely depends on the type of your lawn grass. Warm-season grasses require aeration in the late spring, while cool-season grasses would benefit from early fall or early spring.


The rest of this article will explain a few things about the topic in great detail, including why and when you should aerate your lawn.


Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn?


Thatch buildup and soil compaction inhibit the flow of air, water and minerals to the grassroots. As a result, the grasses eventually become weak and die out. 


Aeration creates small holes to address this problem. It alleviates soil compaction and promotes penetration of air, water and nutrients to reach the grassroots. Consequently, the grass can make use of these resources to grow thick and healthy. 


If you haven’t aerated your lawn in a while, you will notice a significant difference even after a single aeration. 


When to Aerate Your Lawn


Although there is no best time to aerate your lawn, studies suggest that it is ideal to carry out aeration during the fall season. But the truth is the ideal time to aerate your lawn is mostly dependent on the type of grass you have. 


For warm-season grasses common in the Southern lawns, late spring or early summer is ideal for aeration. Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass are examples of warm-season grasses. 


On the other hand, cool-season grasses common in the Northern lawns will benefit from aeration during early fall or early spring. Kentucky bluegrass and Bentgrass are examples of cool-season grasses.


Additionally, signs like compacted soil, patches in the soil, and thinning of grass are signs that the grasses are not getting adequate nutrients. If you notice these red flags, it might be time to aerate your lawn. 


Bottom-line?


In short, the best time to aerate lawns is always right before the grasses grow actively. Aeration, when coincided with active growth of grass, will result in enhanced absorption of air, water and minerals by the roots. 


Generally, spring is not considered an ideal time for aeration of lawns because weed seeds germinate in the spring. So if aeration is done before the active growth of weed seeds, these unwanted plants will flourish on their own.


Weed pressure is minimal during fall, so you might want to stick with fall for aeration.


How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?


For healthy lawns, aeration should be done once a year. If soil compaction and thatch buildup occur frequently on your lawn, it is best to aerate it twice a year.


Some home-owners recommend aerating lawns on an as-needed basis. For instance, if you notice signs such as thinning of grass or worn areas, or puddles, it is time to aerate your lawn.  


Factors That Impact Aeration Frequency


Although aerating every once or twice a year is the most common recommendation, the frequency of aeration depends on a few other factors.

  • Traffic: If a part of your lawn is subjected to heavy foot or vehicle traffic, you will notice patches and thinning of grass on that area. Parts of lawns that are used as playgrounds or common paths will also undergo damage such as thinning of grass.

Aeration is needed more frequently in such areas to ensure that the grassroots are getting sufficient air, water and minerals. 


  • Compacted Soil: Soil compaction occurs when stress is applied to the soil. This decreases the density of the soil and reduces the pores in them. As a result, the grassroots start to suffocate not being able to meet their basic requirements.


Soil compaction mostly occurs in heavily trafficked areas, such as playgrounds. Lawn areas, where the soil is highly dense, will also result in compaction of the soil frequently. 


If soil compaction frequently occurs on your lawn, it indicates that aeration is also needed more often. Aeration will create holes that will help the roots expand and utilise the air, water and minerals coming in through the pores.


  • Thatch BuildupLawn thatch refers to the layer in which buildup of dead roots, shoots, stems and other lawn debris occurs. While a small amount of thatch is beneficial for the soil, heavy buildups can block air and water from reaching the grassroots.


Therefore, if you notice thatch buildup often, you should aerate your lawn more frequently.


Conclusion


To sum up, the best time to aerate the lawn is right before the growing season of the grass on your lawn. Generally, the fall season is ideal for aeration. However, certain types of grasses, such as the ones that grow in the warm season, would benefit from aeration in late spring.


It is also advised to look out for signs that indicate the need for aeration. Some of the signs include soil compaction, thatch buildup, and thinning of grass.


Keep in mind that proper maintenance and timely aeration will go a long way towards growing healthy and beautiful lawns.


FAQ

Should I pick up plugs after aerating?

You should not pick up plugs after aerating. The soil plugs that are left behind after aeration will contribute nutrients and microorganisms to the soil. However, if there is a large buildup of plugs after aeration, remove some of them to prevent blocking of air and water from entering into the soil. 


Should I water lawn after aeration?

It is advised to water the lawn every day for the first two weeks following the aeration. Remember to water in short bursts, for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. This is to keep the soil moist after aeration.

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