How Aeration Can Improve Your Minneapolis Lawn

A view of a bridge in Minneapolis

How Aeration Can Improve Your Minneapolis Lawn

Let’s play a game. Suck in some of that crisp Minneapolis air. Shut your mouth. Plug your nose. Let’s see how long you can hold your breath. I’ll wait right here…

Not very long, right?

Closing up all the passageways in which air enters your body gives you the feeling of suffocation. You know that if you continue to hold that breath then eventually you will meet your untimely end. You need to breathe that air into your lungs, let it heal your body, and help you grow. Breathing is the reason why you’re alive. It’s the reason why any living thing is alive.

This includes your lawn.

Now that I’ve taken your breath away, let’s break it down for you. There are two major things that are clogging up the airways of your lawn, depriving the soil under your grass the nutrients essential for it to prosper. These two landscaping enemies are compacted soil and thatch.

Public Enemy #1: Compacted Soil

Soil compaction is caused by an array of reasons. You may be over-watering your lawn, not allowing the microorganisms in your soil enough time to do the work they were hired to do. Too much water leads to a lack of air being introduced to the soil. Remember when you couldn’t hold your breath anymore? Now, stick your head in a full sink. We have more to cover, so I’ll wait here.

You didn’t leave, did you?

Another reason for compacted soil may be the opposite of over-watering, and that is drought. Everything in the soil dries up, causing a solid ground. This essentially denies nutrients in your soil the air necessary to thrive. Too much water or too little, the result is the same: Compacted soil.

Public Enemy #2: Thatch

Due to the poor drainage created by impacted soil, the soil compaction tends to assist in the growth of its partner-in-crime, thatch. Thatch is especially prevalent in two of three types of grasses that are typical in Minnesota, Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass. Chances are thatch is a thorn in your side.

Thatch is dead tissue that chokes the life out of your green grass. So, now instead of you plugging your own nose, it’s your mother-in-law who wants you out of the picture doing it for you. The best solution to your mother-in-law is to blow some air into it.

Did I say mother-in-law? You’re on your own with her. I meant your clogged grass. The best solution to your suffocating lawn is aeration.

Aeration: The Vigilante

Aerating your lawn breaks up the compacted soil by lessening its density. This action allows the starved microorganisms at work the nutrients pivotal to their production of healthy soil. Doesn’t that sound great? I thought so. But, wait! There’s more.

Aeration delivers a one-two punch by taking out that pesky little thatch. Think of the thatch as UFC’s Mark Hunt and the aerator as University of Minnesota alum, Brock Lesnar. Aerators punch holes into the thatch, and the thatch goes down in defeat. Wonderful, right? Where can you sign up for one of these aerator thingamajigs? Well, there are two ways to aerate your lawn.

Spike Aerator


Photo: Flickr / Christian Guthier

If your lawn isn’t in serious need of CPR, you can use a spike aerator. You just simply stab the soil with a single tine or fork, breaking up the dirt, and allowing air in. It’s like a run-of-the-mill, routine dental cleaning. Show up, get cleaned, and go home. However, sometimes you neglect your teeth a little more than you should. Then the dentist needs to step in with the big tools, giving you a little deeper cleaning. That is when you would get a plug aerator.

Plug/Core Aerators


Photo: Flickr / Offutt Air Force Base

Plug aerators removes soil plugs, or soil cores, that clog up your nutrient-deprived soil’s pores. Once the plugs are broken down, they decompose, releasing nutrients deeper down into the soil. This also helps the roots of your grass grow deeper, thus creating a stronger lawn. Living in Minneapolis on those cool nights, your lawn can use all the strength it can get.

In Minneapolis, it is more conducive to the health of your lawn if you aerate once a year between the dates of August 15th and September 15th. That is when grass is in the growing season, making it is easier to fill in holes created by the absence of the removed soil plugs.

Seeing as you only need to aerate once a year, there is no need to rush out and buy an aerator. You can simply rent a core aerator at your local home improvement store. Looking to cut more costs? Who isn’t? I’m sure your neighbor has a few spots in their lawn that needs a little extra TLC. Go half with them on the rental and watch to see which side of the grass is really greener.

Topdressing and Overseeding


Photo: Flickr / Stephen Ritchie

Aerating your lawn is beneficial to the health of the soil, but it’s also a great assistant to two other beneficial lawn care applications- topdressing and overseeding. Once you aerate your lawn, you are able to get a little deeper into the soil. This is when you should take advantage of the new pathways and rake in some organic materials.

Once you topdress your soil, be sure to then to overseed. You don’t want to overseed first, because you the seeds should only be covered with ¼ of an inch of dirt. So aerate, topdress, overseed. Got it? Good. Now you and your lawn can go ahead and breathe again.

Have more questions about lawn care? Visit our Minneapolis lawn care page or share your thoughts in the comments below.


Michael Lathrop