How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn? (The Surprising Answer)

Every homeowner wants a beautiful, attractive lawn. Not only will a lawn full of lush green grass be the envy of your neighbors, but it will also make you and your family feel proud of your well-kept yard.

However, maintaining your lawn takes a lot of time and effort. It does not just “happen.” It takes work and dedication to maintain an attractive lawn.

Part of this process includes aeration, but if you’re here you probably already know that. What you are still wondering is, “How often should you aerate your lawn?”

How often should you aerate your lawn. Picture of manual lawn tool being used to aerate a yard.

You should aerate your lawn once a year to keep your grass beautiful and healthy. Aerating is the process of poking holes in the lawn, so it gets the water, nutrients, and air it needs. If your lawn is not lush and thick, it may be because of compacted soil or thatch. Aeration could be the perfect fix. 

The Backyard Master

It is surprising to think that doing something only once a year will have such an impact on your lawn’s health and beauty, but this simple project can have lasting benefits.

Read below to learn everything you need to know about aerating your lawn and how to do it properly. That way, you will not waste time or money giving your lawn the makeover it deserves. 

Aerate Your Lawn Once a Year

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You regularly mow your grass and keep it trim.

You water your lawn when it is hot and fertilize your grass to keep it fed—but aerating?

It is not something that everyone has even heard of, let alone knows how to do and most homeowners don’t do it regularly.

If you’ve never aerated your lawn, you are not alone.

Are there benefits? The simple answer is yes. And, unlike other chores needed to maintain a lawn, aerating is not as time-consuming. You only have to do it once a year!

If your lawn looks unhealthy despite regular trims, waterings, and feedings, you should probably get an aeration plan in place.

Your lawn may look unhealthy because, just like human beings, it is not getting the water, nutrients, and air it needs to stay well. There are two main reasons this may occur:

  • Compacted soil
  • Too much thatch

Compacted soil is when soil particles are super close together, so there is no space between them and creates a very dense dirt.

Wondering if your soil is compacted? Try simply walking on your lawn. If it feels rock hard, you may have compacted soil.

Another test is to try to stick something into it. If you cannot get a pitchfork or screwdriver into the soil without a strenuous amount of effort, it is more than likely compacted.

This means that the water and nutrients can’t get down into the grass to keep it healthy either.

Thatch is a decomposing organic barrier of stems, grass clippings, roots, and shoots that form on your lawn’s surface.

Too much thatch has the same result as compacted soil – your grass cannot get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Try walking on your lawn and see if it feels spongy. If your lawn is not firm, there may be too much thatch.  

If this is the case, you will benefit from dethatching your lawn before you aerate. 

How Aeration Benefits Your Lawn

Both compacted soil and thatch will keep your lawn malnourished by preventing water, nutrients, and air from flowing freely throughout your lawn.

Aerating your lawn once a year can fix the problems with both compacted soil and thatch.

As a kid you probably walked or played on a sports field and noticed that it was full of holes. The process is common on golf courses, soccer fields and baseball fields. Those holes you see are for aeration. 

Aeration is simply the process of piercing holes into the lawn to help water saturate beneath the soil, help nutrients reach the roots, and help it breathe much-needed air.

Aerating once a year, even with harder, clay soil will maintain your grass year-round and is the perfect fix to returning your lawn to the lush, healthy green color you desire.

To be clear, aeration does much more than just feed your lawn the water, nutrients, and air it needs to live a long, healthy life. It also helps your roots grow strong because it makes gaps that support root growth.

Aerating also helps prevent surface runoff, which is when water hits the surface of your lawn but does not penetrate it. When the soil is compacted or blocked by too much thatch the water just washes away, along with the nutrients in it. 

It does not matter what type of grass you have or where you live, aeration will keep your lawn looking healthy and beautiful year-round, and aerating once a year is more than fine, as you could actually damage the soil if you aerate more often.

That being said, the type of grass you have does determine when you should aerate during the year. 

When You Aerate Depends on Your Type of Grass

It may sound too simple, but cool-season grasses grow better in cooler temperatures, and warm-season grasses grow better in warmer temperatures.

If your grass maintains its lush appearance during the cool months, you probably have cool-season grass.

You should aerate cool-season grass in late summer or early fall. 

You will want to aerate after you have already mowed your grass a few times for the best results.

Types of cool-season grasses include:

  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Creeping bentgrass
  • Creeping red fescue
  • Tall fescue
  • Fine fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass

On the other hand, if your grass grows best between mid-April and mid-October, you probably have warm-season grass and should aerate in late spring or early summer. You could also consider aerating in the fall, which will help prepare this grass for winter when it is more vulnerable.

Types of warm-season grass include:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Bahiagrass
  • Saint Augustine
  • Zoysia
  • Centipede grass
  • Buffalo grass
  • Carpet grass

No matter which type of grass you have, it won’t matter how much fertilizer you apply or how dedicated you are to lawn care if the proper water, air, and nutrients can’t get down into the soil to the actual root.

Aerating cool season grass in the fall and warm-season grass in the spring will help keep your lawn gorgeous and healthy. And, the actual process is actually quite simple.

How to Puncture Your Lawn to Aerate It

Most homeowners will hire a professional landscaper to aerate their lawn, and that would be our first recommendation for anyone who isn’t into DIY lawn care.

The benefits of using a landscaper or lawn care service include:

  • they can determine the type of grass you have
  • they have the proper equipment
  • and they understand when the best time of year is to aerate your lawn.

However, we have full confidence in you and your abilities so we are going to share some tips to successfully aerate your lawn all on your own. 

First, you want to make sure your lawn is moist enough that you can properly penetrate the soil.

You can either wait for a rainy day to pass or water your grass for a few hours. You can then use the equipment around the house or rent a machine, depending on the size of your lawn. 

If you own a garden fork, you can start on one side of your lawn and start poking holes in it every four to five inches. This will only work well, however, with smaller lawns.

Renting or purchasing an aerator machine or hiring a professional (again, it is just once a year!) is a hassle-free way to maintain your lawn year-round.

Some other equipment ideas are: 

If you decide to do it yourself, you can operate the machine similar to a lawnmower by going over each section.

If your soil is considerably compacted, or if this is the first time you are aerating your lawn, you may need to go over each section twice.

Once your lawn is covered in holes, it will finally start getting the water, nutrients, and air it needs! 


Maintaining your lawn can be one of the most time-consuming and challenging aspects of owning a home. Yet, aerating your lawn does not have to be since it only needs to be done once a year to keep your lawn healthy and beautiful. By simply puncturing small holes into your soil, your lawn will maintain its healthy glow year-round.

Lawn Aeration FAQ’s

Can aerating hurt your lawn?

As long as you stick to aerating your yard just once a year and follow the steps that we suggest above then you will not be doing any damage. Aerating does put your grass under a bit of stress, but that process helps the grass to grow stronger…just like working out. It will take about 4 weeks for a lawn to fully recover from aerating so you want to make sure that you take good care of it during that time.

Do I need to pick up the plugs on the lawn after I aerate?

Nope! You can just leave them there. After a week of watering and a few mowings the plugs will dissolve and decompose back into your yard.

How long after aeration can I fertilize?

After you aerate you will want to overseed, fertilize and water your lawn to make sure that the nutrients get down to the roots of the grass and help it to become healthy and strong.

More Lawn Care Tips and Advice:

A video showing the before and after results from dethatching, aerating and fertilizing.

How Often Should You Aerate Your Yard?