How to Aerate a Cool Season Lawn
Getting dirty in the trenches: If you really want to take your yard to the next level you need to do more than just water, fertilize, and mow your emerald carpet. There are several other tasks that you can do throughout the year or as conditions arise to boost the resiliency and beauty of your yard.
Aeration fixes soil compaction and excessive thatch. Poking small holes into the surface of the lawn exposes the soil to more oxygen, water, and nutrients. With more air and water entering the soil natural microbes will go to work breaking down additional thatch making it easier for your lawn to breathe. High traffic areas are prone to soil compaction and will need more attention when it comes time to aerate your lawn. If you notice water puddling up on the surface of your lawn in specific spots you may be dealing with compaction and need to add aeration to your chore list. You should plan on aerating your lawn once or twice a year depending on traffic and soil type, typically spring and fall when the grass is healthy and growing. Additional spot aeration can be incorporated throughout the season as conditions arise, helping overcome persistent compaction and thatch issues. Avoid aerating stressed turf during the peak of summer. High traffic, clay soil areas are more prone to compaction than sandy soil, low traffic lawn spots.
You can use a solid tine aerator or a corer which pulls out a plug of dirt as it moves across the turf surface. A pitchfork makes for a fine solid tine aerator although going this route will be more labor intensive -- especially for larger areas. Choose from power aerators found at hardware or home and garden store or hand tools that you press into the soil with your foot. Another option is renting an aerator from a garden center. You won’t get to brag to friends about your shiny aerator that you own, but you won’t have to maintain one either.