Everyone dreams of having a visually appealing and lush green lawn without exerting too much energy and dedication in the process. However, you can only procure this through basic lawn care practices like aeration. This lawn care technique is mainly used on lawns suffering too much foot traffic. It enhances the spread and growth of grassroots by relieving the soil’s compaction for water, oxygen, and other nutrients to penetrate the roots effectively. Besides, it also inhibits thatch accumulation on your lawn and prevents fertilizer and pesticide runoff. However, most users are still looking for answers to a question like can I mow right after aerating?
No, it’s a bad idea to mow directly after aerating. That’s because aeration establishes holes in compacted soil for water, air, and other essential nutrients to reach the roots zone. So if you mow just after aerating, the soil plugs collected from the ground will fill up these holes and prevent the essential nutrients, water, and oxygen from reaching the roots.
In this article, I’m going to discuss aeration as a way of enhancing a better looking lawn. Stay with me for more insight regarding the subject.
How Soon Can I Mow After Aerating?
It’s advisable to mow your freshly aerated lawn at least one week after aerating. You do this because mowing immediately after aerating reverses the aeration’s effects.
If you have over seeded your lawn after aerating, please wait for the new leaf blades to develop an inch above the soil before mowing your lawn. Trimming before this means the dead leaves will cover up the newly grown leaves, preventing them from germinating due to insufficient sunlight.
Here is a short list highlighting the few problems which mowing directly after aerating can cause.
- Mowing just after aeration causes high traffic on your lawn as you run the mower across it, hence reversing the essence of aeration.
- The grass blades that drop while mowing minimize the significance of aeration, making overseeding a daunting task. That’s because the seeds won’t have proper contact with the soil. Instead, they will stick to the blades of the mowed grass, preventing germination.
- The plugs resulting from aeration may stick to the mower blades and damage them prematurely.
Ideally, aeration works best on moist soil and grass, whereas mowing has the best effect on dry grass. Therefore, the optimal order of things is to mow before aerating or mow a few weeks after aerating when the grass has thoroughly dried.
Essential Tips to Consider While Aerating Your Lawn.
The following tips will guide you in aerating your lawn like a pro.
- Moisten your soil
It’s paramount to moisten your lawn a day or two before aerating. Doing this allows your aerating machine to penetrate the highly compacted areas easily.
- Master the electrical and irrigation lines
Before aerating, you need to mark the utility lines to avoid damaging them with your aerating machine.
To achieve this, position visible indicators on the sprinklers and any electrical cords, then proceed with aerating. Mastering this extra precaution will save you from costly repairs afterward.
Follow your mowing pattern.
Please be cautious while mowing to ensure you space the holes evenly at about 3 to 4 inches apart. Also, don’t forget to make numerous passes to get the proper spacing.
Essential Tips Before Aerating Your Lawn
Before aerating your lawn, please have this information at hand.
- Identify the areas of your lawn that are most trafficked.
Knowing the complex textured areas in your lawn allows you to know where to emphasize when aerating. In such places, you will need to make several attempts for the best results.
- Check the Moisture Level of Your Lawn
If your region has not received rain recently, water your lawn a few days before aeration to soften the tough soil. You do this because aerators work more efficiently on soft terrain. Avoid aerating on dry soil as it will introduce back fatigue because it is not receptive to the process.
- Choose Your Preferred Aerator
There exist two types of aerators: power and manual.
The powered option works best on large yards, and it uses a reinforced spike system to pry holes in the soil. It also integrates a coring system that lifts soil plugs off the ground to enhance water and nutrient absorption.
By contrast, a manual aerator is designed for small lawns and heavily trafficked areas of your yard. So it’s upon you to choose the aerator that compliments your demands.
Do You Have to Stay Off Grass After Aeration?
Yes, you should stay off grass for about two to three weeks after aeration, especially if you have over seeded. This gives the newly grown seeds enough time to germinate for a healthy-looking lawn. Introducing high traffic before this period can harden the aerated areas and kill the new grass seeds.
Is Dethatching Better Than Aerating?
Aerating and dethatching are essential lawn care techniques that can help you have a healthy lawn. They both enhance essential nutrients like fertilizer, water, and oxygen to reach the grassroots to thrive. What’s more? Each of these two presents its benefits, which we will unfold in this guide. So let’s begin with aerating.
Benefits of lawn aeration
- Reduces soil compaction.
- Improves grass health.
- Minimizes water, fertilizer, and pesticide runoff.
- Decreases thatch accumulation.
- Allows nutrients to reach deeper into the grassroots instead of idling on the ground.
- Thickens lawns.
- Allows grassroots to spread for more vigorous turf.
On the other hand, dethatching also brags a few benefits:
- It exposes your lawn to direct sunlight.
- Minimizes water and pesticide runoff.
- Facilitates root growth.
- Improves the health of your soil.
- Allows essential nutrients to reach the grassroots.
Tip for dethatching your lawn
- It is commendable to rake the grass vigorously enough when dethatching to break through the thatch layer. However, please don’t overdo it, as you might uproot the grassroots in the process.
As experts suggest, aerating your lawn is better than dethatching. That’s because aerating is easier to implement, plus it overpowers the benefits of dethatching.
What Should I Put On My Lawn After Aerating?
After aerating your lawn, it will consume water and nutrients more efficiently. Even better, grass will develop more vibrant blades and grow healthier root systems. So what should you put on your lawn after aerating?
Soon after aerating, you should apply fertilizer, overseed your lawn, allow the soil plugs to decompose naturally, and water to feed grassroots. If you don’t plan to overseed, apply a pre-emergent weed killer.
These methods will allow you to take full advantage of a freshly aerated lawn. Besides, here is a brief maintenance practice to implement after aeration:
- Leave the Holes Alone
After aerating, small holes will emerge all over your lawn. So don’t worry, as these holes will disappear with time as they start to be filled up with new grassroots.
- Apply Fertilizer
Applying fertilizer prevents the spread of weeds for a healthy-looking lawn. It also feeds your grassroots with sufficient nutrients to enhance growth. However, don’t pour too much fertilizer on one spot as it might overreact and kill the grass seeds.
- Water the Grass
After aerating, do heavy watering. This lawn care practice encourages the grass to grow deeper roots, making your lawn more tolerant to drought.
- Stop Watering After the First Month
After the first month of aerating and over seeding, the new grass will be nearly 2″ tall. You should therefore restrict your watering schedule to only once a day.
Does My Lawn Need Aeration?
A healthy green lawn is a perfect backdrop for outdoor activities. However, the sizzling temperatures and soil compaction can make your grass dry and die off. If this happens, you’ll be left with itching questions in your mind, such as, does my lawn need aeration?
Yes, almost all lawns need aeration, but some won’t need it as they are already in good condition. If you’re not sure that your lawn needs aeration, try testing it. Take some water and sprinkle it on a small section of your yard. After 24 hours, take a screwdriver and insert it into the watered area. If it sinks in quickly, you don’t need aeration, but if it takes strength to penetrate the ground, your lawn needs aeration.
The signs highlighted below are also handy as they will tell you that your lawn needs aeration.
Various spots of puddles on your lawn imply that it needs aeration. That’s because the soil has a hard texture, so water and other nutrients can’t reach the grassroots effectively. This is very dangerous considering the stagnant water can wash away your seeds and fertilizer, especially if you had not aerated first.
- Thinning Grass
Thinning grass is an indication of compacted soil. It occurs when essential nutrients and water float on the ground due to hardened soil texture, preventing the grassroots from absorbing them. As such, the grass loses its density, grows thin, and begins to die.
- Thick Debris
You will know it’s time to aerate your lawn if you notice the build-up of thick dead organic matter (thatch) throughout your yard. If the thatch exceeds ½” thick, aeration will help decompose it at a faster rate.
- Yard Stoppage Growing
Soil compaction can cause your lawn to stop flourishing, indicating that your lawn needs aeration. Usually, the stagnant growth means your grass is receiving fewer nutrients and other essential supplies. So by aerating your yard, the grass will resume average growth.
- Discolored Areas
Yellow and brown grass is a warning sign that your lawn needs aeration. This discoloration happens due to an improper supply of nutrients to the root system. So if you notice these two signs, rent a lawn aerator and aerate your yard.
How Often Should I Aerate My Lawn?
Almost all lawns benefit from annual aeration. However, those that endure rough handling or grow on heavy subsoils may require two to three aeration each year.
What If I Never Aerate My Lawn?
Without lawn aeration, the essential supplies needed to boost your grass growth won’t reach your grassroots. As such, your lawn will become weak and vulnerable to pests, diseases, and weeds.
How Long Will It Take for Plugs In My Lawn to Break Down After Aerating?
The plugs produced from aerating your lawn will disappear naturally depending on the weather condition. But frequently watering your aerated lawn will help break down the plugs quickly in about two weeks.
How Long Does It Take to Aerate a Lawn?
The time spent aerating a lawn varies based on your lawn size and the aeration tool you choose. The list below displays different aerating tools and the time taken to aerate a medium-sized yard.
- Hand Aerators
Hand aerators are a time-intensive option and require too much effort to work the aerator into the soil. It takes almost 10 hours to aerate your lawn with this option.
- Rolling Aerator
Rolling aerators are very easy to use and will only consume 30 to 50 minutes of your time to aerate your lawn.
- Stand-on Aerator
The stand-on aerator or electric aerator takes about 15 to 30 minutes to aerate your medium-sized lawn. It is the most convenient option for aeration because it handles the task within a restricted duration.
- Tow-behind Aerator
Homeowners mainly favor this option, as it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to aerate your lawn.
Should I Pick Up Plugs After Aerating?
No, it’s not sensible to collect the aeration plugs after aerating because they are vital to your lawn’s health. Ideally, these aeration plugs are not trash: they incorporate rich soil nutrients and fertilizer. So allowing them to decompose independently means they will slowly feed nutrients back to your lawn for better grass growth.
But if you don’t like the unsightly appearance of these plugs on your yard, you can use them to level out the low spots in your lawn. This way, you won’t waste money hiring trucks to bring new topsoil. Use a typical rake to drag the soil plugs towards the low sites, then leave them to break down and fill those areas over time.
Do You Power Rake Before Aerating?
Yes, it’s practical to power rake before aerating because it enhances the effectiveness of aeration. But ensure you perform this a few days before aerating your lawn to give the grass enough time to recover.
Should I Fill Aeration Holes With Sand?
After aerating, it’s essential to blend different materials into the soil surface to add organic matter to your lawn. You can use many materials to achieve this, but should you fill aeration holes with sand?
Yes, it’s wise to top-dress the aeration holes with sand. Even though sand seems like an odd choice for this project, it helps with water retention, especially for lawns that suffer drainage problems. Using sand for topdressing helps modify the soil structure, improving drainage and promoting better grass growth. For best results, use masonry sand as it is free of weeds, pebbles, and debris.
Should I Rake After Aerating and Overseeding?
Although unsightly, you should resist raking the cores produced after aerating. Raking off these cores entirely from the yard prevents them from effectively contributing essential nutrients to the soil below.
But if you want to improve your lawn’s appearance after aerating, then take off the cores.
What Happens If You Don’t Rake in Grass Seeds After Aerating
If you don’t rake in grass seeds after aerating, they won’t germinate due to erosion and suffocation. So proper raking is a must as it stimulates the germination of your grass seeds.
How Long After Aerating Should You Fertilize?
Your lawn should be ready to fertilize 48 hours after aerating. During this period, the soil offers the best medium of exchange for any incoming materials like fertilizer. The fertilizer will make your soil more productive and stimulate the growth of new grass seeds.
You may have good intentions when applying fertilizer after aeration, but overdoing It can introduce a lot of stress to your grass.
It’s also a good idea to choose fertilizers designed for the safety of pets and kids. Such options are derived from plants and animal products, and they get absorbed quickly into the grassroots.
Here are a few ways over fertilizing can ruin your grass.
- Root Burn
Overfertilizing can damage the grass root structure severely. That’s because some fertilizers have high nitrogen levels, which, if absorbed by the roots in large amounts, causes root burn. Besides, the high sodium levels in fertilizers can also affect the root’s ability to absorb essential nutrients and water.
- Reduced PH balance of your soil
Applying excess fertilizer can affect the PH balance of your soil, which measures its acidity. If your soil’s PH exceeds 7.3, nitrogen and phosphorus won’t dissolve, and if it’s too acidic, the excess fertilizer becomes toxic and kills your grass.
- Extraordinary growth
Sometimes applying too much fertilizer can foster your grass to grow faster than usual. This makes the grass blade’s structure overgrow than its root system. Therefore, it will create problems when supplying nutrients and water as the plant can only absorb water and minerals as the roots allow.
So to avoid over-fertilizing your grass, you need to deploy the right tools that will help distribute the fertilizer evenly. Please read along to discover the best options on sale below:
- Using a Rotary Spreader
This option is handy in fertilizing large lawns. It works efficiently but before using it, apply fertilizer around your lawn’s perimeter. Next, move back and forth across the yard in a consistent pattern and overlap slightly for full coverage.
- Using a Drop Spreader
Drop spreader guarantees controlled fertilizer distribution. When using it, overlap to achieve full coverage but don’t forget to lock the hopper after making a pass. The only issue linked to this gadget is the high price tag.
- Using Handheld Broadcast Spreader
This option works best on small lawns. It delivers precise results, especially if you overlap the distribution patterns with each pass. A small fertilizer spreader like this also functions better on the shady areas on your lawn that need a different fertilizer rate than the sunny areas.
How Do You Aerate Your Lawn With a Pitch Fork?
Depending on the nature of your lawn, some lawn care practices may be optional. But even a nice-looking yard can be enhanced through aeration. The essence of aerating is to improve the quality and density of your grass. But the question is, how do you aerate your lawn with a pitchfork?
Using a pitchfork for lawn aeration sounds like an easy task, but it requires extra preparation and more workforce. Regardless, you can use these tips below and execute the job like a pro.
First, mow your lawn while the grass is dry, then use a rake to gather the grass clippings from the yard. Leaving these grass clippings on the ground can affect the aeration efficiency. Still, you will need to take off the debris and dead leaves before proceeding.
After mowing, let the grass stay for 1 or 2 days before aerating. After this duration, moisten your lawn for better aeration efficiency, then begin aerating the yard.
Begin by holding the pitchfork firmly with tines lined up horizontally. You will need to push the tines towards the ground until you reach full length. After that, start aerating In one corner of the lawn as you maintain the pattern in a straight line.
Repeat this step on each row, and be sure to create new rows in every turn. Continue this way until you aerate the entire lawn.
If your lawn needs further attention, run the aerator in the opposite direction from the initial pass you made to maximize aeration.
What Month Should I Aerate My Lawn?
Knowing when to aerate can help you limit the weed’s ability to gain a foothold in your lawn. That said, when is the best time to aerate your lawn?
Aeration works best before or during the high growth season when grass heals quickly and seals the open areas after removing soil plugs. However, the type of grass on your lawn, local weather conditions, and moisture levels determine which month of the year to aerate.
Cool-season grasses, including fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass, receive the most benefit at the end of the year. Warm-season grasses like buffalo grass and zoysiagrass are best aerated during the warm times of the year (May and June )
If you plan to aerate in the spring, please do so after mowing the lawn several times. This ensures the grass grows faster to benefit from the increased air exchange at the root system created by aeration.
Also, it’s best to aerate early enough in the fall, so the grass recovers before preparing for winter dormancy.
Aeration Mistakes to Avoid
Aeration is a beneficial lawn care practice, but you may risk reversing its effects if you don’t get it right. Below are the common mistakes to avoid for you to reap the most from aeration.
- Avoid Aerating in the Wrong Season
Aeration is best performed in the peak season when new grass seeds can develop strong and deep roots. During this duration, the soil is warm enough to facilitate growth. So please don’t aerate during summer as the dry conditions will make the roots shallow or the grass fail to grow.
- Premature weed killing
After aeration, the new grass sprouts should have enough time to grow to meet their primary objective of a healthy-looking lawn. But as the new grass seeds develop, weeds also emerge between them, competing for soil nutrients. A common mistake with most homeowners is fighting these lawn weeds too soon after aerating and over seeding. This is a dangerous practice as you’ll risk damaging, burning, and killing the young grass with the herbicide weed killer.
So to avoid such risks, please give your new grass seeds enough time to develop firm roots before weeding.
- Premature Mowing
It’s vital to give your grass a bit of a breather immediately after aerating and over seeding. Doing so gives the newly planted seeds time to acclimate and develop strong roots. So if you’re planning to mow after aeration, please wait for two or three weeks since premature mowing might damage and kill your grass seeds.
Practicing basic lawn care techniques like aeration is the key to achieving primary objectives such as a healthy green lawn. This technique is a low-impact and sustainable option requiring no chemicals or pesticides. Besides loosening hard textured soil to enhance nutrient absorption to the root system, aeration also improves water intake, reducing the urge for irrigation. As such, your grassroots grow strong and spread evenly, which is essential for a healthy lawn less vulnerable to diseases. But the question disturbing most users is…
Can I Mow Right After Aerating?
No, mowing just after aerating can reverse the aeration effect. That’s because you will fill up the holes created during aeration, blocking water and soil nutrients from reaching the grassroots. Ideally, mowing has the best effect one or two weeks after aeration as the soil plugs will have dissolved to the lawn. Even worse, mowing immediately after aeration can damage your mower blades, which will cost you a lot because they’ll need replacement.
I’m glad you’ve donated your time to read through this guide. Please share with us your concerns below in the comment section—meanwhile, good luck in your undertakings.