Is Lawn Aeration Necessary?

Does your lawn need aeration? Aeration opens up your lawn’s root zone to the nutrients that it needs to thrive. Our specialists highly recommend aerating your lawn if it is struggling with soil compaction, lawn diseases, or lawn thatch buildup. Read on to learn why.

Soil Compaction

Compacted soil traps water around the root zone, creating a host of additional problems. One of the most serious issues it can cause is a shallow, unhealthy root zone that struggles in the summer heat.

Soil can become compact over time as people walk over the grass. If you drive on it, park on it, or operate other heavy machinery on it, you’ll compress the soil even faster. Aeration loosens the soil and can also help keep it level, preventing low spots that may result from the pressure of compacted soil.

If you have compacted soil, make sure you use a core aerator instead of a spike aerator. A core aerator will pull small cones of soil from the ground, creating wider air pockets.

Lawn Diseases

necrotic ring spot
Necrotic Ring Spot

Compacted soil is an ideal breeding ground for lawn funguses that need cool, moist soil conditions to thrive. An especially damaging disease that targets overwatered soil is necrotic ring. One of the best ways to reduce the spread of necrotic ring and other lawn diseases is to aerate the lawn. Aeration breaks up the soil, drying up the excess moisture these diseases need in order to spread.

If you aerate your diseased lawn, make sure you clean and sanitize the aerator before moving to another lawn because aerators can spread lawn diseases. For this reason, you should also make sure the aerator is clean before using it on your lawn.

Lawn Thatch Buildup

Lawn thatch is a layer of dead grass that settles right above the soil. A small thatch layer can help your soil retain nutrients. Ideally, the thatch layer should be no more than half an inch thick because too much thatch buildup can suffocate the lawn. Yearly aeration can prevent the thatch layer from becoming too thick.

When and How to Aerate

Some lawns only need to be aerated every few years. Others need it every year. How often you should aerate depends on the amount of foot traffic on your lawn, the clay content in your soil, and the thickness of your lawn’s thatch layer. Lawns with high foot traffic, high clay content, and/or a thick thatch layer should be aerated at least once a year.


Usually, the best time to aerate is in the spring or fall before fertilizing and seeding. Aerating beforehand ensures that the seeds and fertilizer can penetrate into the soil instead of sitting on the surface.

These are some signs that your lawn needs to be aerated:

  • Water pools in low areas of the lawn, indicating bad drainage.
  • The grass stops growing during the hottest part of the summer because the roots are too shallow.
  • The soil is hard, indicating compacted soil.
  • Rings of dead grass have formed in the lawn, which is evidence of necrotic ring fungus.

You can test your lawn yourself by taking a small plug out of the lawn and measuring the thickness of the thatch layer and the length of the root zone. If the thatch layer is more than half an inch thick, make sure you aerate to reduce the thatch. If the roots are only a couple of inches long, your lawn is very vulnerable and could use aeration and a deep watering schedule to help strengthen it.


Stewart’s offers aeration services in the spring and fall. Unlike many other aeration services, we power wash and sanitize our aerators between lawns to prevent the spread of soil diseases. Call or text our office at 801-226-2261 for a free quote today.