How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

Written by Mike Futia

Updated January 16, 2023

  • You should aerate your lawn at least once pear year.
  • The frequency of aeration depends on your grass type, soil, usage, climate and maintenance.
  • Lawn aeration is the process of removing small plugs of soil from the lawn to create small holes that allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the root zone.
  • Aeration is important for a healthy lawn because it helps to reduce soil compaction, improve water and nutrient absorption, reduce thatch buildup, and promote root growth.

Factors That Affect Aeration Frequency


How often you aerate should be based on the specific needs of your lawn, not really not a fixed schedule! But you do need to aerate!

Here are a few factors you'll want to keep in mind when deciding how often to aerate.

Annual aeration for most lawns

For most lawns, we recommend aerating your lawn every year to address soil compaction, improve water and nutrient absorption, reduce thatch buildup and promote root growth. You should aerate when your lawn is growing most actively. 

More frequent aeration for heavily used lawns 

If your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic—maybe you have active kids that are playing sports out there all the time—then you may need to aerate more often, possibly two times a year.

Less frequent aeration for lawns with sandy soil

Does your lawn have sandy soil? Then you may not need to aerate every year, because these lawns drain well and don't suffer from compaction as much.

That said, you should still monitor your lawn for any signs of compaction or poor drainage and aerate as needed.

Signs That Your Lawn Needs Aeration


So how do you know that your lawn needs to be aerated? Look for a few of these telltale signs.

Thatch buildup

If your lawn has a thick layer of thatch, you may need to aerate your lawn to break up the thatch and promote root growth.

Thatch is just a layer of dead grass and other organic matter that accumulates on top of your soil. If it becomes too thick, it can prevent water, air, and nutrients from reaching the roots of the lawn. 

Poor drainage

You should also look for poor drainage on your lawn. This is when you noticed that pools on top of your lawn and takes a long time to drain.

This could be a sign that your soil is compacted, and you should aerate it. Aeration improves drainage by creating small holes that allow water to penetrate the soil more easily.

Compact soil

If your soil is hard, dense, and hard to penetrate with a garden fork, then it could be a sign you need to aerate your lawn.

Aeration can help break up the compacted soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of the lawn.

Brown patches or bare spots

Are you noticing lots of brown patches and bare spots on your. lawn?

These can be caused by soil compaction, thatch buildup, and poor drainage.

Aeration can help fix these issues and promote root growth.

Reduced growth and resilience

If your lawn isn't growing like it should, or it's worn down by traffic, then it may be a good idea to aerate.

Aeration can help promote root growth and improve the overall health of the lawn, making it more resilient to damage.

Generally speaking, you should aerate your lawn when it's growing most actively.

Different Aeration Methods


There are a few different ways you can aerate your lawn. Out of all these, we recommend core aeration for most lawns.

Spike aeration

Spike aeration is when you use a machine or tool with spikes to poke small holes in the soil. 

It's a quick and easy method, but it only addresses surface compaction and is not as effective at breaking up compacted soil or reducing thatch buildup as other methods.

Core aeration

Core aeration is the most effective method of aeration that involves removing small plugs of soil from the lawn. 

These plugs, or "cores," can be left on the lawn to decompose, or they can be removed. 

Core aeration is more effective at breaking up compacted soil and reducing thatch buildup than spike aeration.

Slit aeration

Slit aeration is a newer method of aeration that uses a machine or tool to cut narrow slits in the soil.

Slit aeration is less invasive than core aeration and can be used in lawns that are too delicate for core aeration. It can also be used in lawns with heavy clay soils where core aeration is less effective.

Aeration machines and tools

There are a variety of aeration machines and tools available for rent or purchase, including hand-held aerators, walk-behind aerators, and tractor-mounted aerators.

It's important to choose the right machine or tool for the size of your lawn and the specific needs of your lawn.

DIY aeration methods

Aeration can also be done manually using a garden fork or aeration shoes.

However, these methods can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, and they may not be as effective as using a machine or tool.

After you're done aerating, you'll want to water, fertilize, seed, and mow your lawn.

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Mike Futia

My name is Mike, and I'm the owner and founder of My lawn care advice has been featured on Family Handyman, Home & Gardens, Gardening Etc., and Apartment Therapy. I love nothing more than helping my readers achieve their dream lawns. That's why I started, where I share all of my best tips and tricks for keeping a lawn healthy and well-maintained. You can read more about our mission on our About Page.

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