If you want your lawn to look its best, core aeration is key. Image: Quinlan Terry Architects

Everyone needs a break, including your yard. After a summer of use, it might be a little tired and worn down. But you don’t want to compromise it. You love your lush, green expanse and you know that it offers a wide range of benefits to your home. So what can you do to give it some space and help it breathe to look its best? The answer is simple: core aeration.

This is a lawn care process that pulls small plugs up from your lawn and leaves them on top. Over time, those plugs break down and filter back into your turf. Core aeration is an important part of your lawn care regimen and fall is the best time to do it. Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t skip this yard maintenance step.

Give your soil some breathing room through core aeration. Image: Andrew Sherman Photography

It opens up your soil

Your soil needs space to allow air, fertilizer, water, and more into it. Over time, though, it gets compacted. Between you walking across your lawn, your kids playing on it, your dog sniffing around it and simple gravity, it’s no surprise that the particles of soil get packed closer together as the seasons pass. When you pull plugs out of that compacted soil, you breathe life into it – literally. The soil density decreases and everything has space to circulate. Suddenly, roots that couldn’t breathe are able to get everything they lacked.

Anything you put on your lawn to help it grow will make a bigger impact if you aerate your soil. Image: The LaurelRock Company

It creates pathways for nutrients

Those plugs don’t just allow the soil to open, they also create pathways. When you apply nutrients to your yard after core aeration, they penetrate much more deeply than they would otherwise. If your turf is looking like it needs some TLC, aeration followed by the application of a nutrient like sulphur or lime could transform it. 

It’s kind of like a facial. When you exfoliate your skin before applying any creams or serums, they penetrate more deeply. Your lawn is similar. It needs that dense, compacted top layer to get broken up so anything good you apply to it can actually make a difference.

Core aeration gets rid of dead grass so your lawn can look extra lush. Image: Michael K. Walker & Associates, Inc.

It reduces thatch

Have you ever thought about what happens to all the grass you trim every time you mow? Your lawn certainly has. That dead plant matter builds up over time, limiting your live grass’s access to sunlight, water, and air. Left untouched, thatch can suffocate your lawn. Each time you aerate, you pull up some of that thatch and create openings for it to filter down into the soil, where your grass can properly process it. Plus, getting rid of that layer of dead grass helps your lawn look its softest and greenest. 

Fall is the ideal time to aerate your lawn. Image: J. Paul Moore Photography

What to know about core aeration

Note that you should leave the plugs on top of your grass after core aeration. We know they might not look very pretty, but they’re part of the process! Over time, as you mow and water, they’ll incorporate back into your turf, feeding it so that it can grow to its fullest potential.

The time to aerate your lawn depends on your grass, but most lawn care professionals agree that fall is a great time. This is because the air will be cool but your soil will still be warm. Plus, tackling this task now, when your lawn is probably covered with leaves, makes the little plugs less bothersome. And it essentially guarantees that your lawn will look gorgeous come spring. 

In short, core aeration can help you reveal your best-looking lawn. It’s a major task, but the results are well worth it. And, since you’re already investing in helping your yard look its best next year, why not tackle some of these other lawn care tasks to prep your yard for winter?