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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Soil Aeration: How to Aerate Your Lawn for Healthy Grass

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    A healthy lawn makes a great first impression. Aerating your lawn is a simple way to achieve that perfect, golf course-style grass.

    What is lawn aeration

    Grass roots require plenty of air, water, and nutrients to stay strong. Over time, everyday foot traffic—like kids playing in the yard or mowing the lawn—compacts the soil, preventing those essential factors from getting through to the roots. Clay soil, which is common in Arizona, Texas, and other areas of the country, is also predisposed to becoming compacted.  

    Soil aeration is a simple process that involves poking holes in the lawn, making it easier for water, air and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This extra boost helps keep the grass thick, green, and healthy.

    When to aerate your lawn

    A few telltale signs can indicate that it’s time to act. Dull and thin grass blades could mean your lawn isn’t getting the nutrients, air and water it needs to thrive. Aerating will breathe fresh life into it.

    You can also use your lawn’s thatch layer as an aeration guide. Thatch is dead grass that forms a barrier between the healthy grass and the soil. Some thatch is good—it locks in moisture and protects the soil from harsh weather. However, if it’s too thick, it can prevent that moisture from reaching the grass roots.

    A quick test can help determine the thickness of your thatch. Push a screwdriver into the grass and soil. If it slides in easily, your lawn likely has a healthy thatch layer. If there’s any resistance, that’s a sign you should look into aerating your lawn.

    In general, aerating once a year will help you achieve that perfect lawn. If your grass doesn’t see much foot traffic, aerating once every two years may be sufficient.

    Which season is the best time to aerate a lawn

    It’s best to aerate your lawn when the grass is in its peak growing period. Growing seasons vary depending on the type of grass you have.

    Cool-season grasses are most common in the northern half of the United States. Early fall or the very beginning of spring is the best time to aerate grasses like bluegrass and fescue. If you choose springtime, aim to do it before temperatures start hitting about 55°F. Weeds begin germinating in warmer weather, and aeration holes will give them an easier spot to take root.

    Warm-season grass is most common in the southern half of the country. Late spring and early summer are the ideal times to aerate a lawn with Bermuda or carpet grasses.

    How to aerate your lawn

    Aerating your grass is easy when you follow these simple steps.

    1. Water the grass. It’s tough to aerate soil that’s too dry. Water your lawn the day before, or plan to aerate a day after it rains.
    2. Use the aerator. Go across your entire lawn with your aerator tool. Make two passes over areas that see extra foot traffic.
    3. Seed and fertilize. The grass seeds you lay down will take root in the holes formed by aeration. Water every few days after aeration and seeding to help the new grass grow.

    The best lawn aerator tools

    There are two main types of lawn aerators to choose from:

    • Spike aerator — This common aerator tool has one- to three-inch metal spikes that poke holes in the soil, creating pathways for air, water, and nutrients. Push the spike aerator across your lawn, similar to how you use a push lawnmower
    • Core aerator — Also known as a plug aerator, this is the most effective type of lawn aerator. It removes small plugs of dirt from compacted soil. Those little holes help air, water, and nutrients penetrate the grass roots and act as a spot for new grass seeds to germinate. Little plugs of soil will be deposited on top of your lawn when using a core aerator — you can pick them up, or they’ll break down on their own in about a week, adding extra nutrients back into your lawn.

    Lawn aeration is an essential task for thick, green grass. Tractor Supply Co. has all the supplies you need to aerate your lawn and keep your yard at its healthiest.