Should I aerate before seeding? The experts advise on this lawn-care question
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Q: I am planning on over-seeding a patchy area of lawn in my backyard. Is it a good idea to aerate the soil, first?
A: Periodically aerating a lawn is a core part of any good maintenance routine. But it's also an important step when preparing the ground to repair lawn patches with seed.
Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes, which allows air, water, and nutrients to penetrate it more thoroughly. This is why it's a good idea to aerate before fertilizing a lawn, too. Not aerating a lawn, whether you're over-seeding it or not, can lead to compaction, increased rainwater run-off and poor overall health, says Jeremy Yamaguchi of Lawn Love.
Some gardeners use a simple garden fork to do so, however, there are also aerator tools, such as this Gardzen model from Amazon (opens in new tab), which make the process a little easier. A mechanical aerator can be useful for larger lawns.
As the CEO of Lawn Love (opens in new tab), Jeremy Yamaguchi helps homeowners find quality, reliable lawn care. Specializing in technology and using industry experience, he intends to revolutionize the lawn care industry.
What are the benefits of aerating a lawn before seeding?
'As a lawn care professional of ten years now, I highly recommend aerating your lawn before seeding,' says Anton Schwarz, the CEO of Lawn Liberty (opens in new tab). 'It creates a more hospitable environment for your new grass seeds.' He explains how the resulting small pockets of air and space in the soil allow the seeds to establish a stronger root system more quickly. 'This results in faster and more efficient grass growth, filling in any bare or patchy spots and resulting in a more uniform, even lawn.'
Dan Rothermel, the President of Green Giant Home & Commercial (opens in new tab), agrees. 'Just spreading grass seed over a lawn won’t get you the results you want. To germinate and become a mature plant, grass seed requires several things, one of the most important being a seedbed.'
Aeration provides a safe seedbed where the grass seed contacts the soil, Dan continues. 'Plus, the holes prevent birds from eating the seeds, keep grass seed from washing away when it rains, and reduce the amount of watering that’s needed. Aeration holes hold moisture longer than the surface of the lawn.'
So, before you grab your grass seed, get aerating. To help your seeds along, you can also apply a lawn fertilizer – either a pre-seeding fertilizer at the preparation stage, or a starter fertilizer once the seeds have germinated. Keep the area well-watered, too, for the best chance of success. And be sure to check when to plant grass seed – which depends on the type that you're planting.
Shop lawn aerators:
A premium 4-spike tool with comfortable handles, that's perfect for aerating smaller yards. As it's made of steel, it's built to last, but is lightweight, too.
Make aerating your lawn easy with this walk-behind tool, which includes five wheels with spikes that aerate to a depth of 2.5 inches.
Available in four fun colorways, these adjustable aerator shoes make lawn care a breeze. Simply put them on and walk over your grass.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for Gardeningetc.com for two years, Holly now writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.
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