A Quick Guide to Core Aeration

Core aeration is one of those lawn care practices that are hidden in plain sight. It probably sounds familiar to you (or maybe not), but you’ve surely seen core aeration before.

Think back to your football/soccer field in high school. Remember all those little pellets of dirt scattered all over? Core aeration. Turns out that in addition to being fun to throw at other kids, they served a substantial purpose in keeping a great lawn.

Why Is Core Aeration Necessary?

Over time, soil becomes compacted. This makes it difficult for water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the soil. The purpose of core aeration, then, is to relieve this compaction in your lawn. Core aeration is basically the process of pulling up little dirt plugs out of your lawn to relieve this pressure. Core aeration improves fertilizer uptake reduces water runoff, strengthens roots, reduces compaction, enhances heat and drought tolerance, and improves resiliency.

When Should I Core Aerate?

It depends on the type of grass you have. For cool-season grasses, the best time of the year to aerate is in the fall. For warm-season grasses? Shoot for late spring/early summer. Realistically, your lawn should be aerated once per year, especially if your lawn has lots of foot traffic via kids, pets, or tailgating parties.

Core Aeration Quick Tips

  • Though some homeowners try to do it with spikes, aeration is typically done with an aerator (makes sense). According to our lawn care pros, using spikes doesn’t really work because the process doesn’t pull the plugs out. It just makes holes in the soil, which doesn’t relieve pressure in your lawn.
  • New houses often need aeration. We’ve seen some crazy examples. Often, because builders often just throw down grass seed without prepping the soil, you’re left with a lawn that’s been trampled by heavy machinery, and thus, very compacted.
  • If your lawn is compacted, nothing will grow.
  • The perfect time to overseed is after you aerate. The two go hand in hand.
  • Control weeds before you aerate, because aeration can spread weed seeds.
  • Our lawn care pros advise that you don’t aerate during heat or drought. Aerate when the soil is wet, but not over-saturated.

Should I Hire a Lawn Care Company for Core Aeration?

In this case, unless you’re set on sweating it out on your own, it’s easiest to hire a lawn care company near you to aerate your lawn. It costs about $100 per day (plus a $150 deposit) to rent a core aerator, and the typical cost of professional aeration is $75 – $225.

To buy a core aerator would run you more than you want to spend. Then, you have to worry about timing and lawn conditions, measuring soil moisture, temperature, and more. It’s best to let the lawn care professionals take care of aeration while you sit back and enjoy your beautiful lawn.


Alex Birkett

Alex Birkett is marketer and writer. Aside from mowing lawns, he loves snowboarding, eating sushi, and lifting heavy weights. He moved to Austin, TX after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.