“With this in mind, the best thing you can do for your lawn each year is to aerate it,” he said. “Core aeration removes small plugs of soil. Aeration is beneficial because it reduces the compaction that accumulates over time in any yard. Compaction can be the result of excess moisture, traffic, gravity, clay or heavy soils. Mowing can even contribute to it. Aeration is about the only way to reduce compaction.”

Aeration also allows oxygen, water and fertilizers to penetrate the lawn deeper and more effectively, he said. This then increases the rooting depth of the plants and makes them more drought-resistant and better able to resist pest invasions.

Core aerators can be rented from many local rental companies, or gardeners can hire someone to handle the job, said Goodspeed. Before aerating, make sure to mark sprinkler heads, since aerators are not sprinkler-friendly.

If gardeners plan to use a pre-emergent to help control annual weeds, it should be applied after aerating. A pre-emergent acts like a weak herbicide barrier that covers the ground and kills small emerging annual weeds as they germinate and start to grow, he said. Aerating can compromise that barrier and open up a spot for weeds to sprout and begin their offensive march on the lawn.

There are several types of aerators available on the market. A core aerator is the best because it removes small plugs. The longer and deeper the cores, the better, said Goodspeed. If gardeners aren’t fond of the plugs left on the lawn, they can be broken up by simply running a mower over them.

“Other options include solid-tine aerators which do not remove plugs, but simply poke holes in the lawn,” said Goodspeed. “The only place a solid tine aerator is well suited is for very sandy soil. There are also stylish aerators that fit onto the bottom of your shoes, allowing you to walk fashionably around the lawn using the elegant ‘stork step’. The only thing this does is amuse the neighbors, and perhaps add a little extra muscle mass to your upper thighs.”


By: Julene Reese - Apr. 19, 2006