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Closeup of the center and partial petals of a deep yellow sunflower.

Brown lawn? Look to aerate this fall.

Core aeration is a mechanical process that extracts cores of soil, thatch and grass from the surface of the lawn.  This increases nutrient availability, water penetration, soil air exchange, and reduces compaction.  All of these benefits lead to a healthier lawn.
Aeration can be done any time of the year, but typically it is done in the spring and or fall when soil moisture is greatest to insure good plugs.  In addition, any lawn can be overseeded after aeration to add hybrid grasses to help thicken up an existing lawn or thin areas.  Aeration is a great process and should be done annually to help maintain good soil health while minimizing compaction.
Core aeration should not be confused with detaching or power rakes, a different machine which tears and rips turf – often causing more damage than good.  Aeration is a professional means to manage a turf area that is often under care such as fertilizer and lime treatments.
What are the benefits of Aeration?

  • Increased moisture penetration since the holes open up space for rain to reach the root system below.  The surface of the soil is hardened from high heat and summer drought.  A lack of rain makes the surface of the lawn much harder to loosen up due to the baking action of summer heat.
  • Increased oxygen exchange (important for healthy roots) especially in compacted and dry soils.  Punching holes in the lawn will physically allow air to reach into the surrounding root systems, even as the hole begins to break down and fill back in with soil next spring.
  • Reduces soil compaction (especially soils high in clay) caused by those summer parties or high use.  Compacted soil does not promote healthy roots in grass, or trees for that matter.
  • Increases penetration of fertilizers and other lawn products.  The pellets or flakes simply roll into the hole and dissolve for faster results.
  • Increases rate of thatch decomposition due to micro-organisms being brought up to the surface in the plug itself.  There is no need to rake aeration plugs off a home lawn as they breakdown on their own in a short period of time.
  • Increases root development due to the vacant space created by the aerator tine.  The turf roots can expand outward and beyond in search of water, air, and nutrients in the soil.