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When Should I Aerate?

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

When you should aerate typically depends on the type of soil and grass you have. If you have a clay soil, you should generally aerate twice a year. If you have sandy soil, you should typically aerate once a year. If you have warm season grasses, late-spring to early summer is in most cases the best time to aerate. If you have cool season grasses, late summer or early fall is the best time. The following are guidelines that will help you to determine when is the best time to aerate:
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  1. If you have clay soil, it will typically compact easily and need to be aerated more often than other types of soil andshould be aerated twice a year (Spring & Fall).
  2. If you have sandy soil, it will typically not compact as easily as clay soils, thereforeyou should aerate your lawn only once during the year (Spring or Fall).
  3. If you are planning on fertilizing or reseeding your lawn,it is best to aerate just prior to doing so. This will help allow the fertilizer, seed, and other nutrients to penetrate your lawn and soil, thereby producing better results.
  4. Try not to aerate during times of drought and high heat. Instead of helping your lawn, it may allow moisture to escape the soil more rapidly and remove small layers of Thatch that can actually benefit your lawn. This moderate layer of thatch can help to insulate your soil from sunlight and excessive evaporation.
  5. Avoid aerating your lawn during times of weed problems. Aerating may actually help spread weeds by causing weed infestation. Try to control your weeds prior to aerating.
  6. Try to water and/or dampen your lawn one day prior to aerating. This will help soften the soil and allow for better penetration by the aerator, thereby providing better results.
  7. If you just planted a new lawn and/or laid sod,it is best to wait until your grass roots are well established to begin aerating. Aerating sod just prior to good root establishment can actually pull-up the sod from the ground and create more problems then it is worth. Additionally, pre-mature aerating can cause excess moisture/water buildup and can prevent the grass roots form getting enough air to grow deep.

For a list of Aerating Companies and Services in your area, see: Lawn Companies & Services in your Area.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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