How Deep Should You Aerate A Lawn

How Deep Should You Aerate a Lawn

Simple lawn caring tips are all you need to have a healthier and greener lawn. Lawn owners often water, mow, and fertilize their lawns, but what about that compact soil? If you’ve been maintaining your turf with no desirable results, then maybe nutrients and water don’t pass the lawn thatch.

5 Best-Selling Lawn Aerators

I’ll let you in a little secret, aerating your lawn is just as important as all the other lawn maintenance practices. It reduces the soil compaction and improves the root system making your lawn more attractive and healthier. 

Like a rule of the thumb, efficient care equals a great lawn. Read on! The article has everything you need to know about aerating lawns to improve your lush green. Besides, you’ll also learn how deep you should aerate your lawn.

What is Aerating a Lawn?

Aeration removes soil plugs from the lawn by taking out dirt clumps from the surface of a lawn. The process comes in handy with providing the ideal conditions for healthy and dense grass growth.

Soil Compaction

Compaction is where soil particles press together, squeezing the air out of them and making it hard for water to penetrate through. Soil compaction happens about two inches below your lawn, preventing root growth, thus making your turf weak.

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Furthermore, if you have a clay garden soil, you’ll need to aerate your lawn because of the subtle texture of clay particles that make it more compact.


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It’s the organic matter beneath the grass. It’s brown, and it rests directly on the soil. This layer may thicken, preventing air circulation and penetration of water and nutrients into the ground. If your lawn has a thick layer of thatch, aeration is one of the pro tips to making your turf of green better. 

Why You Should Aerate Your Lawn

Numerous benefits come with proper aeration of your lawn.

  • Allows fertilizers to reach the grassroots and improves their efficiency
  • Aeration improves your lawn’s drainage, preventing water from stagnating on your lawn, which would otherwise lead to mushrooms’ growth. Furthermore, nobody wants an eyesore in their lush green lawns.
  • Reduces the soil compaction to allow for more profound grass root growth.
  • Allows for water penetration to the root surface of your lawn
  • Improves air circulation by aiding the release of carbon dioxide and the supply of oxygen to the roots.

Soil compacts naturally or from activities like field play and heavy machines leading to serious lawn problems like poor drainage and thatch. Aeration is ideal for preventing soil compaction and allowing your lawn to thrive well.

Main Lawn Aeration Tools

Depending on your preference, you can either opt for a manual tool or a power tool. Consider using power aerators in large lawns, which would otherwise require days to work on with the manual aerators.

The power aerators are more costly than the manual ones. If you are on a budget, then a manual aerator is your perfect fit. 

You’ll have to consider the size of your lawn before making your purchase. Besides, if you don’t have enough money laid out to buy a new aerator, you can rent one from a home improvement center or a lawn store.

A manual aerator is ideal for small lawns. There are two main manual aerators that you can use to aerate your lawn.

1. Spike Lawn Aerator

Agri-Fab 45-0365 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator,black

With this manual tool, you can quickly aerate your garden. It uses a solid tine or folk to create holes on your turf.

2. Core Aerator

It’s also known as a plug aerator. With this garden tool, you can aerate your lawn by removing soil and grass plugs. 

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A plug aerator has a spike containing hollow cylinders which remove plugs of soil and grass from your lawn.

Although working your lawn with this aerator is more efficient than the spike aerator, it’s more tiring, and it covers less ground than the spike aerator.


An aerator that pulls out cores of soil and grass is better for aerating lawns with excessively compact soils and thatch compared to one that only creates holes on the ground. Besides, poking holes on the ground increase more pressure on the area around the hole, causing the soil to be more compact.

Ideal Depth of Aeration

For proper aeration, you’ll need to aerate through the thatch and compaction layers. Professional surveys show that home lawns do not suffer much compaction, and thus going 2 – 3inches plugs out the thatch and compaction, leaving your lawn at the best conditions.

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator,Orange & Black,Large

Half an inch accounts for the thatch layer, two inches to alleviate soil compaction, and an additional half-inch to give room for root growth.

An ideal home lawn aerator removes soil cores of 2 -3 inches deep from the lawn. These plugs have a diameter of approximately 0.75 inches, and the created holes are about 3 inches apart.

Moreover, an ideal spike lawn aerator has a solid tine that pokes holes of 2 – 3 inches deep.

Home lawns suffer compaction when dogs romp around or when people form pathways through them. The soil on these lawns is less compact than high-traffic lawns like fields with longer compaction layers due to heavy building equipment.

Lawns with high traffic will require deeper aeration than home lawns since you’ll have to pull out longer plugs of the compaction layer. With more compact soil and thatched lawn, you can aerate approximately 1 – 6 inches deep.

What counts in proper lawn aeration is the number and depth of holes made per square feet.

Should I Go Deeper Than 3 Inches?

If the lawn has never been aerated before, then aerate as deep as you can to make the conditions more hospitable for the grass to thrive well.

Besides, if your lawn has a large thatch layer, you’ll have to go deeper than 3 inches to reach the compaction layer. You can also decide to dethatch your lawn before aerating; this makes the process easier.

Furthermore, if your place snows more often, then the soil beneath becomes more compact. It doesn’t hurt to go more than 3 inches. You can go as deep as 6 inches, provided the aerator does not tear down the lawn.

More passes on soil that has high moisture content improve the aeration process. 

Indicators That Your Lawn Needs Aeration

  • Suppose your lawn area was a building construction site before planting the grass. Construction areas have more traffic and equipment, causing the topsoil layer to be more compact.
  • If your lawn has excess traffic like pets and children playing around, then you’ll have to aerate frequently.
  • Water stagnating on your lawn is a sign of the soil’s poor drainage condition caused by compactness. Besides, excessive thatch also causes stagnation. 
  • If your lawn is unhealthy and weak, then you should consider aerating.

Lawn Aeration Tips

Before aerating your lawn, water it for a few days to soften the soil. Watering also ensures that the soil is moist and easy to work on with an aerator. However, if it rains thoroughly before aerating your lawn, there is no need for watering.

Avoid aerating your lawn during the dry season. It will expose the roots to direct sunlight, and your lawn will die off due to dehydration. 

Look out for pipes near the surface of your lawn. The solid tine and spikes can easily damage pipes. 

What To Do After Aeration

When you are done aerating your lawn, let the extra soil dry on the hole where they fall. They will break down when it rains and possibly crumble the next time you mow.

After you finish aerating your lawn it is the best time to overseed it and add some fertilizers or you can just simply do some lawn repairs. Adding seeds and fertilizers can easily contact soil through the holes that the aerator creates. Doing this combination can help put your lawn on the fast track for quick seed establishment and have a thinker grass growth.


Aerating lawns is one of the factors that help towards your achievement of a wonderful lawn. In finer details, roots penetrate easier, and it also optimizes fertilizer absorption. 

If your lawn is compacted by heavy construction equipment or its location is within the soil with high moisture contents, consider aeration to get everything in order.

Aerating Your Lawn - Why, When and How