Aerating and Fertilizing: When & How-to
Think of aerating and fertilizing your lawn like going to the dentist. Just like your teeth, your lawn needs daily care, like watering and sunshine. About twice a year, though, your lawn (and teeth) need some help from professionals. Aerating and fertilizing is that twice-a-year “deep clean” to ensure your lawn stays in tip-top shape. Aeration is a lawn treatment that pulls out “cores” or small plugs of grass and topsoil to create a small hole. With this hole, lawns can absorb more nutrients and water, and roots have more oxygen and room to grow. This is why fertilizing typically accompanies aeration. Read on to answer more common questions about when and how to aerate and fertilize your lawn.
When should I aerate and fertilize my lawn?
Aeration is good for lawns but can stress them if timed improperly. For cool-season grasses common in northern lawns, early fall or early spring are the best times for aerating. For warm-season grasses common to southern lawns, the best time for aerating is late spring or very early summer. It's best to aerate during or right before the time your grass reaches its peak time for natural growth. Never aerate dormant lawns. When aeration coincides with active growth, grasses recover quickly and fill in areas where aerator equipment exposes soil.
Pro Tip: Aerating is easiest when your soil is moist from irrigation or rainfall the day before. Overly dry or hardened soil can be tough to aerate, so moisture eases the process. Never aerate overly wet lawns; wait a few days instead.
Should I fertilize or aerate first?
In most cases, aerating is best before laying fertilizer as it allows for more oxygen and deeper growth of grass roots. If you have compact soil or clay soil, it is especially crucial to aerate before so that the fertilizer reaches deeper roots.
Can I fertilize without aerating?
While not crucial, it is recommended to aerate your lawn before fertilizing or overseeding. It is important to make sure the soil is loose enough for seeding so the roots can grow deeper for better water and nutrient access. Aeration loosens up compacted soil, improving the supply of oxygen, nutrients and minerals to the new grass seed. By delivering more nutrients to the roots and strengthening them, lawns can grow stronger, quicker and denser.
How long until I’ll see healthy grass?
Whether you fertilize and aerate together or just fertilize your lawn, you should see results within six to eight weeks. The combination of the two is often the best option, especially if you have compacted soil or clay soil. Of course, aerating and fertilizing aren’t the only ways you should be taking care of your lawn. Proper mowing and watering are essential for any lawn to be vibrant and green.
What fertilizer should I use after aerating?
Immediately after aerating, your lawn is exposed to oxygen, and so laying fertilizer during this time is your best bet for growing a healthy, envy-worthy lawn. The best fertilizer to use (and how much) will be dependent on your grass type and lawn size. Rather than playing a guessing game, hiring a professional is a simple solution. Professional lawn care experts, like TruGreen’s Specialists, can accurately determine the best needs for your lawn based on grass type, lawn size and other needs. Aerating and fertilizing (or overseeding) are almost always done together when hiring a professional. The best part? You won’t need to worry about purchasing or renting tools, choosing the right fertilizer, or getting sweaty.
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