The Q&A Archives: Aerating a Lawn

Question: I recently purchased a house where the previous owner didn't take very good care of the lawn. In an effort to revitalize the lawn, in addition to fertilizing, should aerate the lawn this fall (and, shouldn't this usually be done in the spring?).

Answer: The soil under your lawn can become compacted from foot traffic, and compacted soil excludes air (which roots need). You can fix compacted lawns by aerating every 2-3 years in either the spring or the fall. If you rent a power aerator, it will dislodge plugs of soil. Leave the plugs on the lawn (they'll decompose and break down in the rain). After aerating, spread a thin layer of sand or organic mulch over the top of the lawn and then water deeply.

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