If you had to choose between aerating and applying fertilizer…

Actually, both!  But sometimes to make our point on how important aeration is, we’ll say “If we had to choose between one mechanical aeration and one application of fertilizer for your lawn, we’d do the aeration every time!”

What is Aeration?

Aeration is the process of using an aerator (such as the one pictured here), to basically poke holes in the soil.  These holes are created when the machine’s tines enter the soil and pull out a core (or plug) of soil and turf grass, and redeposit it onto the top of the turf.

Why is Aeration so Important?

Aeration rejuvenates and sustains a healthy vigorous turf.  The benefits of aeration are many, such as: thatch reduction, compaction alleviation, and water penetration.  Layers of thatch (above ground roots and rhizomes) can, over time, create a mass of plant matter that prevents water and nutrients from making it to the plant roots.  Compaction occurs from a number of reasons: dog trails, mower traffic, foot traffic, etc.  Sporting fields tend to be the worse, or around front doors of homes and buildings.

The process of aeration pulls a core of the soil and turf grass to the top of the ground, alleviating compaction and thatch:

  • The new gaps in the soil profile allow a direct and immediate path for air, water and nutrients to reach the roots.
  • Soils need pore space to hold water, increase oxygen, and allow room for biological activity within the soil-food-web.
  • The cores break up thatch immediately by creating holes in the turf, and also over time as the redeposited plug breaks down and the dirt-sand aggregate sifts through the thatch layer like sand paper.

Best Timing for Aeration

There’s generally not a “bad” time to aerate a lawn that needs it, but our preference for Treasure Valley / Boise aeration is early September.  This timing alleviates thatch and compaction from heavier summer use but still allows the grass to recover from the process before it goes dormant.  Also there is less overall weed pressure at this time of year.  And because the aeration process disrupts the soil profile, we also recommend putting down fertilizer at the same time.