There’s a lot that goes into maintaining a lush, green lawn. While mowing, watering, and fertilizing are the most obvious steps, it’s important to consider additional ways to keep your lawn as healthy as possible, like aeration.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of aerating your lawn, including how low to cut grass before aeration. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits that aeration can provide for your lawn.
What Is Aeration?
Over time, the soil under your lawn can become compacted. Especially in clay-rich soil, things like weather and high traffic can tamp down the dirt around the roots of your grass, which can lead to dead spots in your lawn, as well as standing water from poor drainage.
When you aerate your lawn, you remove cores of dirt about ½” to ¾” in diameter and up to 6” deep. This creates space for the roots of your lawn to expand, while also allowing water and fertilizer to penetrate the soil, leading to healthier plants. It’s also an excellent time to overseed your lawn, as the holes allow the seeds to get deeper into the soil.
Preparing for Aeration
It’s important to choose the right time to aerate your lawn. The ideal time is either just before or during the peak growing season for your lawn, based on the type of grass that you have. That way, the roots will immediately grow to fill the space created in the aeration process.
It’s important not to aerate during drought conditions—the grass roots won’t grow properly, and you could end up severely damaging your lawn.
The most common question that homeowners ask is how low to cut grass before aeration. To get the most benefit from aeration, you should set your mower to 1 ½” to 2”, which will keep your grass short enough to avoid impeding the aerator, while not scalping your lawn, either.
You should also make sure that your lawn isn’t too dry by watering one day before you aerate, unless you’ve recently received rain. If it’s too dry, the aerator won’t be able to penetrate the soil; if it’s too wet, the cores won’t come out properly. To test the moisture, you can push a screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily, your lawn is ready to be aerated.
Before starting, you should mark any shallow irrigation lines or sprinkler heads, as well as your property line. When you mark these spots, you reduce the risk that the aerator will damage your lines—or worse, your neighbor’s lines!
Benefits of Aerating Your Lawn
When you aerate your lawn, you help to maintain the health of your grass long-term. You can improve your drainage, while also increasing the flow of oxygen and fertilizer to your grass. And when you overseed immediately after aerating, you will encourage new growth, resulting in an even more lush, luxurious lawn to enjoy.
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