Should I aerate?

Hey, 3 Lakes! When is the best time to aerate my lawn? Do I need special tools?

You’ll want to aerate your lawn when the grass is at its peak growing time. This will help to ensure a good bounce back from the lawn after being aerated. Spring and fall are optimal times to aerate your lawn here in New Hampshire. You may be asking, “What does aerating a lawn do?” When you aerate your lawn, the aerator creates holes that penetrate thatch, built-up grass, and the soil to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

If you have a high-traffic lawn (think lots of activity on the grass), this can lead to the soil below the grass compacting. In this case, you’d benefit from aerating the lawn annually. A good way to test soil compaction is with a screwdriver. Push the screw driver into the ground. If there’s a lot of resistance, the soil is compacted and it’s time to aerate. If it sinks in smoothly, you can wait.
Don’t have an aerator of your own? Planning to rent one? Here are six tips for when you do:

1.    The day before you rent the aerator, heavily water your lawn. Already have sprinklers that run regularly? Your lawn moisture content is probably on the high side, so you’re likely in good shape.
2.    Shallow underground sprinkler lines, sprinkler heads, and utility lines are a major concern when it comes to aerating your lawn. Be sure to mark the sprinkler heads and note any other underground hazards that could be struck by the aerator. 
3.    If your soil is lightly compacted, you generally only need to go over the lawn with the aerator once. However, if your soil is like a dirt driveway, you’ll need to do it at least twice. 

4.    The plug aerator removes “plugs” of soil from the lawn. It’s important that you leave the plugs where they lie (i.e., don’t rake them up). Your lawn will look like you had a visit from a flock of geese, but the plugs will break down and return nutrients into the soil.
5.    Once you’re done, water the lawn and apply a good fertilizer. 
6.    For the next week or so after you aerate your lawn, be sure to water the lawn often and thoroughly. Doing all this will help ensure a healthy lawn.

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