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Time to aerate a lawn

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#1 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 06:35 AM

Looking for voices of experience here, that we can use when talking to lawn service people as the gardener advocating on behalf of a mutual client. (It can be very frustrating, especially when the lawn service figures it's using the One Right Way to do a thing...)

What we'd like to know is:
Have you aerated your lawn in spring? Good results? Negative consequences? Lawn people sometimes tell us, "Oh no, never in spring." Yet we have seen it done at all times of year at golf courses and botanical gardens where we figure the practitioners should know. One of those told us, "Heck, the soil's such a sticky clay here that we aerate after just about every big event, since the lawn's get so much traffic, then." But IS there a best time?

Just took a break from the highway to stroll at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario and noticed scattered cores on the lawns there from light aeration. "Light" as in the lawn had not been criss crossed to pull a really large number of cores, as at a golf course where a green may look downright brown after a thorough aeration.


These are not goose poops, but finger-sized cores pulled from the lawn. They'll dry and crumble, and fall loosely back into the holes along with organic debris and any top dressing you applied. That creates lots of tiny, airy, rich compost pits in - a bonanza for roots.

#2 carolm


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Posted 16 May 2012 - 08:07 AM

I aerate my lawn every spring when I pull dandelions out using my weed hog, which essentially takes a plug out of the lawn. More dandelions, more aeration. Seems to like it.

#3 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 11:38 PM

Ah, so -- one deep core removed each time you pull a dandelion root? Great connection!

#4 Len S.

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 04:09 AM

I've been aerating in either late spring or early fall for many years with no difference in lawn appearance. Penetration is improved if the soil is moist (not very wet or too dry). Avoid the hot summer months when our cool season grasses are struggling with higher soil temperatures. No point in making the soil even warmer by poking holes in it and allowing moisture to escape more readily.
Lawn aeration is the best way to keep excess thatch from developing, and restoring the channels that let air, water, and nutrients through to the grass roots. Leave the cores on the lawn even though it looks like a flock of geese have visited. After a few weeks cores will disappear. Aerating can not be overdone. It's absolutely one of the best things you can do to promote a healthy lawn.

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