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Lawn Care 101: Spring Aeration

Posted by: Nick DiBenedetto on March 6, 2020

Can I Aerate My Lawn In The Spring?

The simple answer is YES!  Aeration in the spring or fall is one of the best things you can do to ensure you have a healthy lawn.  A core aeration is best performed just before or during periods of high growth, but not immediately preceding or during periods of stress to the lawn, whether from heat or drought. Basically, don’t aerate in the hot and dry summer and you should be good!

Aerate To Relieve Compacted Soil

Soil compaction happens naturally over time which is why it’s important to aerate at least once a year. Compaction is also aided everyday things like riding or pushing your lawn mower, foot traffic from your family including pets, heavy objects like benches or trampolines, and anything else that applies weight to the surface of your lawn.

What About Thatch?

Thatch is the layer of dead and alive grass between the soil and the grass blades that you see in your lawn. It can arise from poor air infiltration and compaction in a lawn.  A compacted soil holds little air or water and is not going to be able to sustain a normal and healthy population of microbes. Without these microbes the decay will almost come to a stop.

This means that as new grass plants develop and grow the older ones die and just build up in a layer underneath causing a spongy ‘thatch layer’.  Once developed beyond a reasonable thickness (1/2”) this thatch layer acts as a barrier to water, air and nutrient penetration further exacerbating the lawn’s problems.

Spring Aeration Benefits

Aeration is the removal of plugs of soil (usually 2-3 inches deep) from the lawn using a machine.  These holes help reduce thatch and compaction in the lawn and allow for more air, water, and nutrients to get down to the grass roots.  It also encourages deeper root growth which can help your lawn withstand some of the stresses of summer like heat and drought.

The cool season grasses we have here in the North Shore will respond well to a spring aeration.  You should wait until you’ve mowed the lawn at least a couple times before aerating.  This will ensure the lawn is growing fast enough to recover and take advantage of the increased pore space and air exchange at the root zone that aeration creates.


What About Pre-emergent?

Timing is the key to aerating in the spring when using crabgrass control also known as pre-emergent. In most cases you want to aerate in early spring leaving enough time to put down your pre-emergent herbicide before crabgrass starts germination.

There can be weed seeds in the plugs that the aerator removes and leaves on your lawn.  Because of this it is wise to put down some pre-emergent weed control after your aeration. You can opt to use a spike aerator, but your lawn will typically benefit from aeration more when using a core aerator.

But if you plan on overseeding when your aeration is done, you will not be able to apply pre-emergent or, broadleaf weed control as these products can both interfere with grass seed germination.  Eliminating a pre-emergent barrier in the spring can also lead to a weedier lawn during the season meaning your lawn may suffer more than it benefits by overseeding. So, consider carefully if you want to do spring overseeding with your aeration. A reputable lawn care company will know the do’s and don’ts with overseeding in the spring.

Get More Info From The Pros!

Looking for more information on aeration and overseeding or just ready to let the professionals take over your lawn care needs? The Grassmaster Plus team is ready and willing to answer any questions you have and can provide you a free quote on your lawn care services for the season. Contact our local office today!