Lawn Aeration: Hidden Benefits Revealed

Lawn Aeration: Hidden Benefits Revealed


Aerating Blog: Lawn Problem Solver

Hand Aeration: The DIY Path to a Greener Lawn

How to aerate a lawn by hand?

Aerate your lawn by hand using a garden fork or a hand aerator. Insert the tool into the soil, wiggle it back and forth to create holes, then remove and repeat across the lawn.

1. Prepare Your Lawn For Aeration: Watering

  • Before aerating, make sure your lawn is ready. The soil needs to be slightly wet to allow your tool to penetrate easily.

  • If it hasn't rained in a while, water your lawn lightly the day before. The goal is to make the soil soft, but not soaking wet.

2. Choosing the Manual Aerator Tool :Tool Types

Garden Fork

  • This tool has wide, sturdy prongs. It can make holes in the compact lawn soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to get through.

Hand Lawn Aerator

  • This tool either makes small holes or removes small plugs of soil. It helps air, water, and nutrients reach the grass roots more easily.

Get to know more about lawn aerating tools, and their specific uses, check out my guide on Types of Aerators.

3. Mapping Your Course

  • Begin aerating from one corner of your lawn. Imagine a grid pattern to ensure you cover the entire lawn evenly.

  • This prevents over-aerating one area, which could damage the grass.

4. Criss-Cross Aeration

  • For the best aeration results, try the criss-cross method. Start by aerating in straight lines across your lawn.

  • Then, aerate again in lines perpendicular to the first set. This way, you'll cover the entire lawn twice in a criss-cross pattern, ensuring thorough aeration.

5. Hole Spacing

  • Maintain a distance of about 6 inches between the holes. This helps ensure that the lawn is properly aerated without causing too much stress on the grass.

6. Covering Your Lawn

  • Stick to your planned grid and the criss-cross method to cover the entire lawn evenly.

When should I aerate my lawn by hand?

Aerate your lawn either in the spring or early fall. This helps the lawn recover quickly and ensures better conditions for seeding and fertilizing.

When to Aerate

When you should aerate your lawn depends on the type of grass you have ,and where you live

Cool-Season Grasses

  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Fescues - Fine And Tall

1. Grow most in the fall and spring.
2. Aerate these grasses in early spring or early fall.

Warm-Season Grasses

  • Bermuda
  • Zoysia
  • St. Augustine
  • Centipede
  • Buffalo Grass
  • Bahia

1. Grow most in late spring and early summer.
2. Aerate in late spring or early summer.

To learn more about the best aeration times based on grass types, refer to our Aerating by Grass Type guide.

How Do I Aerate My Lawn Without An Aerator?

Without an aerator, you can apply a liquid aerator product through a sprayer that connects to a standard water spigot.

Great results from liquid aerators come slower than from using traditional aerators. You can explore the types of aerators on my web page. 

  • Liquid aeration softens soil, and noticeably improves a lawns appearance within a couple of months of repeated applications.

Aerating Without an Aerator

If you don't have a specialized aerator, you have other options

Garden Fork

Aerating Shoes

These shoes have spikes that make holes in the soil as you walk.

Liquid Aerator

This is a solution that breaks down hard soil and improves aeration.

If you need help recognizing when your soil is compacted and needs aeration, check out our page on Signs of Soil Compaction. After aeration, there are certain things you should do to keep your lawn healthy. Our Post-Aeration Care page offers useful tips.


Chad Freeman has 20 plus years of experience working around all aspects within the residential, and commercial lawn care fields. 

More About Lawn Aeration

I have curated informative guides to help you understand, and implement lawn aeration effectively.

Essential Reading:

Lawn Aeration: The Missing Link

Types of Aerators

Aerate by Grass Type

Understanding Soil Compaction:

Causes of Compaction

Signs of Compaction

Aeration and Soil Health:

Aerate for Oxygen

Aerate for Microbes


Post-Aeration Care

Additional Resources:

Smart FAQs

Feel free to get in touch if you have more questions or need personalized lawn care advice. Visit our Contact Us page. We respect your privacy. Learn how we protect your personal information by reviewing our Privacy Policy.

Lawn Woes: Uncovering the Causes Of Bare Spots

What's causing bare spots in my lawn?

Bare spots in your lawn often occur due to an oxygen shortage in the soil, usually caused by soil compaction.

The compacted soil prevents the vital oxygen from reaching the grass roots. Without sufficient oxygen, your grass can die off and, create bare spots.

Understanding Soil Compaction: To help you diagnose if soil compaction is the issue in your lawn, we've prepared a comprehensive guide. This guide includes detailed information on key signs such as water pooling after rain, a hardened surface, or thinning grass. Recognizing these signs can save you time and prevent further damage to your lawn. Take a look at our valuable guide on Signs of Soil Compaction.

Identifying Causes of Soil Compaction: To combat soil compaction, understanding its causes is crucial. We've gathered a detailed list of contributing factors such as heavy foot traffic, construction activities, and the impact of specific types of mowing equipment. With this knowledge, you can take effective preventative measures. Learn more from our comprehensive Causes of Soil Compaction page.

Addressing Soil Compaction Through Aeration: If soil compaction and oxygen shortage are your concerns, aeration can be your solution. The process of aeration, which involves puncturing the soil with small holes, allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots, promoting healthier, more robust growth. For a step-by-step guide on how to aerate your lawn effectively, see our in-depth guide on Lawn Aeration: The Missing Link.

Other Factors Causing Bare Spots:

Foot Traffic: High-traffic areas can lead to soil compaction and wear down the grass, resulting in bare spots.Pets: Pets, particularly dogs, can damage lawns with their urine or by repeatedly running in the same areas.Pests: Insects such as grubs or chinch bugs can cause grass death, creating bare spots.Disease or Fungus: Fungal diseases like brown patch, dollar spot, and rust can lead to patches of dead grass.Improper Mowing: Cutting grass too short can stress it, leading to bare spots. Note that different grass types have different ideal mowing heights.Drought Stress: During extended dry, hot weather, patches of grass can die off, especially without adequate watering.Nutrient Deficiency: If your lawn is not receiving sufficient nutrients, it may develop bare spots. This could be a general deficiency or a lack of specific nutrients, such as nitrogen.Thatch Buildup: A thick layer of thatch (dead grass and debris) can block water, nutrients, and air from reaching the grass roots, causing grass death and the formation of bare patches.Poor Soil Conditions: Soil conditions such as compaction, high acidity or alkalinity, or nutrient deficiency can hinder grass growth.

After identifying the potential causes for the bare spots in your lawn, the next step is to address them directly. This might involve adjusting watering or mowing practices, applying fertilizer, controlling pests, or improving soil conditions. If soil compaction and oxygen shortage are your main concerns, our guide on aeration is a vital resource for reclaiming your healthy, vibrant lawn.

The Role of Lawn Aeration in Restoring Damaged or Neglected Lawns

Breathing life back into a damaged or neglected lawn can be a challenging task. However, it becomes much more achievable with a good understanding of lawn care techniques, and one of the most critical methods in this regard is lawn aeration.

What is Lawn Aeration?

Simply put, lawn aeration is a process that involves poking small holes throughout your lawn's soil. These holes serve an essential purpose: they allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots, which helps the grass become stronger and healthier. Think of it as opening up channels for all the good stuff to reach exactly where they're needed.

Compaction: The Silent Killer of Lawns

One of the leading culprits behind a struggling lawn is soil compaction. Soil compaction happens when the soil particles are packed together so tightly that they restrict the flow of essential nutrients, air, and water to the grass roots. There are several tell-tale signs of compaction you can watch out for, including water pooling on the lawn's surface, difficulty in pushing a shovel into the ground, or patches of withered or dying grass.

What Causes Soil Compaction?

A variety of factors contribute to soil compaction. These include heavy foot traffic, frequent use of heavy lawn care machinery, or the natural settling of soil over time. Weather conditions can also play a part – for example, heavy rains can contribute to compaction, especially in lawns with clay-heavy soil. Our page on causes of compaction delves deeper into this issue and its impact on lawn health.

The Benefits of Aeration in Combating Compaction

By creating holes in your lawn, aeration breaks up compacted soil, reduces thatch (the layer of dead grass and debris that can build up on a lawn), and opens up space for air, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots. This encourages healthier and more robust growth, which can transform a sparse, struggling lawn into a lush, green carpet.

Choosing Your Weapon: Types of Aerators

Aerators come in several forms, each with their own benefits. Spike aerators simply poke holes into the ground, while plug aerators remove a core of grass and soil from the lawn. Slicing aerators cut through the thatch and into the soil without removing any soil or grass. Choosing the right one for your lawn depends on the specific needs of your lawn. Check out our guide on types of aerators to decide which tool suits your situation best.

The Aeration Process: Step-by-Step

Aerating a lawn isn't a complicated process, but it does involve some preparation and follow-up care:

Choosing the Right Time: Spring and fall, when grasses are in their peak growing season, are usually the best times to aerate a lawn.Pre-Aeration Watering: Water your lawn thoroughly a day or two before you plan to aerate. This softens the soil and allows the aerator to penetrate more deeply.Aerating: Using your chosen aerator, cover your entire lawn, paying extra attention to areas that are particularly compacted or struggling.Post-Aeration Fertilizing: After aerating your lawn, it's a good idea to apply a high-quality fertilizer. The aeration holes will allow the fertilizer to reach deep into the soil, providing nutrition directly to the grass roots.Continued Watering: Water your lawn regularly following aeration to keep the soil moist and support the growth and recovery of your grass.

Lawn Aeration: Often Overlooked, Always Vital

Many homeowners don't realize the critical role that aeration plays in maintaining a healthy lawn. It's a task that's often overlooked but can make all the difference in creating a robust, vibrant lawn. You can read more about this on our page: Lawn Aeration: The Missing Link.

In conclusion, lawn aeration is an essential strategy for bringing a damaged or neglected lawn back to its former glory. With a little time, effort, and the right techniques, you'll see your lawn transform into a beautiful, lush, and healthy green space that you can be proud of.

Lawn Aeration: The Secret To Drought Resilience

Getting your lawn to remain lush and green even during a dry spell might seem like a herculean task, but the secret lies in one crucial lawn maintenance task - Aeration

Lawn Aeration: Making Room For The Good Stuff

  • Aeration involves perforating small holes throughout your lawn.

  • This process breaks up compacted soil, enabling essential elements like oxygen, water, and nutrients to penetrate deeper and nourish your lawn effectively.

Extend Your Lawn's Roots 

  • More room in the soil equates to greater space for roots to grow.

  • Deep, extensive roots are stronger, capable of tapping into water reserves that lie far beneath the soil surface.

  • This deeper reach not only supports overall plant health but also significantly boosts your lawn's ability to withstand drought.

The Sponge Effect

  • Aerated soil behaves like a large sponge.

  • The holes created by aeration act as tiny reservoirs that soak up water whenever it rains or when you water your lawn.

  • Instead of water quickly evaporating from the surface or running off, it gets stored in these tiny reservoirs.

Hydration Over Time

  • The soil doesn't release the stored water all at once. Instead, it provides a slow and steady supply over time.

  • This gradual hydration keeps your grass roots moist, ensuring that your lawn remains green and vibrant, even if it doesn't rain for a while.

To delve into the finer details of how lawn aeration can bolster your lawn's resilience against drought, take a look at my page "Lawn Aeration: The Missing Link".

Timing is Everything: When to Aerate Your Lawn

Knowing when to aerate is just as important as understanding why to do it. Aeration performed at the right time can significantly boost its effectiveness.

Seasonal Sense

  • The ideal time for aeration depends on the type of grass in your lawn.

  • Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and Perennial Rye grass, benefit most from aeration in early spring or fall.

  • Warm-season grasses like Bermuda, and St. Augustine grass respond best to aeration in late spring or early summer.

Get more info about aerating your lawn by grass type on my web page.

Weather Watch

  • It's best to aerate your lawn when the soil is moist, as dry soil can be hard and compact, making the aeration process difficult.

  • A day or two after rainfall or watering your lawn is typically a good time.

Oxygen: The Lifeblood of a Vibrant Lawn

It's easy to overlook the invisible, yet oxygen's role in your lawn's health is too significant to ignore.

Here's how oxygen silently works behind the scenes to keep your lawn lush and healthy

The Essential Life Fuel

  • Oxygen plays a key role in root respiration, a process that provides energy for plant growth.

  • Without adequate oxygen, roots can't function optimally, resulting in weak and less resilient grass growth.

Powering Up Photosynthesis

  • Oxygen also facilitates efficient photosynthesis, the process through which plants convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into energy.

  • An ample supply of oxygen to the roots ensures that they can absorb nutrients and water effectively, thereby supporting the overall photosynthesis process.

Deep Dive for Water

  • Oxygen availability influences root growth.

  • With sufficient oxygen, roots can grow deeper and more robust, allowing them to tap into hidden underground water reservoirs.

  • This ability proves essential during dry spells, helping your lawn stay hydrated and lush.

To gain a deeper understanding of the crucial role oxygen plays in maintaining your lawn's health, visit my page "Aerate For Oxygen".

By understanding the benefits of lawn aeration, the importance of oxygen, and the optimal timing for aeration, you can ensure your lawn stays lush and vibrant, even during the most challenging dry spells. After all, a healthier, greener lawn is a sight to behold and a source of immense pride.

Enhancing Lawn Health with Organic Matter after Aeration

Do I Need To Fill The Holes After Aerating My Lawn?

No, you do not need to fill the holes after aerating your lawn.

The cores of soil left behind after aerating will break down and return beneficial microbes, and organic matter back into your lawn.

However, if you want to improve soil structure further, you can apply compost solids or compost tea (liquid) after aeration.

  • Applying organic matter like compost can enhance nutrient availability, water retention, and microbial activity, promoting a healthier lawn.

  • To do this, spread compost evenly over the lawn and allow the materials to work their way into the holes.

  • Alternatively, you can apply compost tea to supply nutrients and beneficial microorganisms directly.

    This practice can complement the benefits of aeration, but filling the holes immediately is not required.

    • A healthy, lush lawn is the pride of many homeowners. Proper lawn care, including aeration, can be an essential factor in achieving a thriving turf.

    • Aeration involves creating small holes in the soil to reduce compaction and improve air, water, and nutrient penetration.

    • After aeration, some homeowners may choose to fill these holes with organic matter to further enhance soil structure and promote lawn health.

      Should I Fill Holes After Aerating?

      Yes if you're able to, because applying a 1/2 inch layer of organic top soil, peat moss, sand or liquid compost tea after aerating your lawn will nourish soil life, and can drastically improve your lawn's overall health.

        • By applying these ingredients following aeration they will be able to quickly get down into the holes and benefit your lawns roots, and soil structure.

        Benefits of Adding Organic Matter after Aeration

        Improved Soil Structure

        • Adding organic matter to aerated holes can improve soil structure by increasing the soil's porosity and reducing compaction.

        • This enables better root growth and the efficient use of water and nutrients, ultimately leading to a healthier lawn.

        Increased nutrient availability

        • Organic matter can enhance nutrient availability by providing essential elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

        • This enables the grass to grow stronger and more resilient to environmental stresses.

        Enhanced water retention

        • Organic matter can improve the soil's water retention capacity, allowing the lawn to absorb and store water more efficiently.

        • This is particularly important during dry spells, as it helps the lawn maintain its health and vitality.

        Beneficial Microbial Activity

        • Organic matter can support beneficial microbial activity in the soil, promoting healthy root growth and nutrient cycling.

        • Microbes break down organic matter into plant-available nutrients and release them gradually over time, providing a steady supply of essential elements.

        Get more info on my web page aerate for microbes i go in depth on the importance of taking care of these valuable critters.

        Selecting the Right Organic Matter

        When choosing the organic matter to fill aerated holes, consider the following options:


        • Rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, compost is an excellent option for improving soil structure and fertility.

        • Ensure the compost is well-aged and free of weed seeds and disease-causing organisms.

        Well-rotted manure

        • Manure from animals such as cows, horses, or poultry can provide valuable nutrients and organic matter.

        • Make sure the manure is well-rotted, meaning it has been aged and broken down sufficiently, to avoid burning the grass or introducing harmful pathogens.

        Peat moss and sand mixture

        • Combining peat moss with sand can improve soil structure and drainage, particularly for heavy clay soils.

        This mixture can also help retain moisture and improve aeration. Ensure the peat moss is sustainably sourced, as it is a finite resource.

        Application Steps for Adding Organic Matter after Aeration

        To fill aerated holes with organic matter, follow these steps:

        Prepare the organic matter

        • Obtain a sufficient amount of the chosen organic material and ensure it is free from weed seeds and disease-causing organisms.

        Apply the organic matter

        • Spread the organic material evenly across the lawn, aiming for a layer 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 to 12 mm) thick.

        • Use a shovel, rake, or specialized topdressing equipment for the application.

        Work the organic matter into the holes

        • Gently work the organic material into the aerated holes using a rake or brush.

        • This step helps the organic matter reach the root zone and improve soil structure at the appropriate depth.

        Water Your Lawn

        • After applying the organic matter, water your lawn thoroughly to help it settle and integrate with the existing soil.

        • Continue to water your lawn regularly during the following weeks, providing about 1 inch of water per week.

        Resume Regular Lawn Care

        • Once the organic matter has been applied, resume your regular lawn care routine.

        • This includes watering, mowing, and fertilizing as needed.

        • Monitor your lawn's health and look for signs of improvement, such as increased thickness, color, and reduced thatch and compaction.

        Be prepared to adjust your lawn care practices if necessary to maintain a healthy and thriving turf.

        Evaluate the results

        • Over time, monitor the impact of adding organic matter to your aerated lawn.

        • Look for improvements in soil structure, moisture retention, and overall lawn health.

        You may need to repeat the process annually or every few years, depending on your lawn's specific needs and soil conditions.

        Is Liquid Compost Good For Lawns?

        Yes, liquid compost, or compost tea, is good for lawns.

        It provides easily absorbed nutrients, and beneficial microorganisms that promote healthy growth, improve soil structure, and can help suppress lawn diseases.

        Compost tea works best when integrated into a well-rounded lawn care program.

        Compost Tea For Your Lawn: Major Advantages

        Nutrient Supply

          • Compost tea contains nutrients that can be easily absorbed by grass, promoting healthy growth and improving lawn color.

          Beneficial Microorganisms

            • Compost tea introduces beneficial microbes, such as bacteria and fungi, that can help break down organic matter and make nutrients more readily available to grass roots.

            Disease Suppression

              • The beneficial microbes in compost tea can help suppress certain lawn diseases by out competing harmful pathogens or producing substances that inhibit their growth.

              Improved Soil Structure

                • The microorganisms introduced by compost tea can contribute to improved soil structure and aeration, which in turn promotes healthier root systems and more robust lawns.

                Follow These Steps To Use Compost Tea On Your Lawn

                  1. Brew compost tea using well-aged, high-quality compost and non-chlorinated water.

                    2. Dilute the compost tea according to the recommendations provided by the specific brewing method or equipment used.

                      3. Apply the compost tea to your lawn using a sprayer or watering can.

                        • The application rate may vary depending on your lawn's specific needs and the concentration of the compost tea.

                        4. Regularly apply compost tea to your lawn as part of your overall lawn care routine.

                          • Some gardeners recommend applying compost tea every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

                            Remember that while compost tea can be beneficial, it should not be considered a substitute for proper lawn care practices such as watering, mowing, and fertilizing.

                              Compost tea works best when integrated into a well-rounded lawn care program.

                              Use Caution When Applying Compost To Your Lawn

                              While adding organic matter after aeration can offer numerous benefits, there are some considerations and precautions to keep in mind:

                              Assess your lawn's needs

                                • Before adding organic matter, evaluate your lawn's current soil structure and fertility.

                                  • Adding organic matter may not be necessary if your lawn already has healthy soil. In some cases, simply allowing the soil plugs from aeration to break down naturally may be sufficient.

                                  Avoid excessive organic matter

                                    • Applying too much organic matter can lead to an imbalance in the soil's nutrient levels or create overly moist conditions, potentially causing problems like nutrient runoff or fungal diseases.

                                      • Stick to the recommended application thickness and avoid overloading your lawn.

                                      Timing is crucial

                                        • The best time to aerate and apply organic matter is during the grass's active growth phase, typically in the spring or fall, when temperatures are moderate and soil moisture is adequate.

                                          • Aerating during periods of extreme heat or drought can stress the grass and hinder the desired results.

                                          Test your soil

                                          • Performing a soil test can provide valuable information about your lawn's nutrient levels, pH, and other factors that influence plant health.

                                            • Use the results to guide your selection of organic matter and any necessary amendments.


                                              • Filling aerated holes with organic matter can significantly improve soil structure and overall lawn health, particularly for lawns with poor or compacted soil.

                                              • By selecting the appropriate organic material and following the outlined steps, homeowners can enhance their lawn's resilience and beauty.

                                              • Regular monitoring and proper lawn care practices will ensure that your turf remains healthy and vibrant for years to come.

                                              Poor Draining Lawn: How To Improve Your Soil

                                              A healthy, green lawn is a source of pride for many homeowners.

                                              However, if you've noticed water pooling, dying grass, or other signs of poor drainage, it's time to take action. 

                                              Let's explore the importance of good lawn drainage, common problems caused by poor drainage, and steps you can take to improve your soil and achieve a beautiful, thriving lawn.

                                              Identifying Poor Draining Lawn Issues: Signs of poor drainage

                                              1. Water Puddles in the Lawn

                                              • If you see water pooling on the surface of your lawn after rain or watering, it's a clear sign of poor drainage.

                                              • Standing water can lead to numerous issues, including drowning your grass and creating a breeding ground for pests like mosquitoes.

                                              2. Hard, compacted soil

                                              • Soil compaction happens when soil particles are pressed tightly together, reducing the space for air and water.

                                              • This can make it difficult for water to drain and for grass roots to grow, resulting in a weak and unhealthy lawn.

                                              Standing water on a lawn quickly tells me, that the soil is compacted in that area. There are less obvious signs of soil compaction that may be of interest to you on our web page.

                                              3. Grass turning yellow or dying

                                              • Poor drainage can cause grass to turn yellow or even die. This is because the roots of your grass need oxygen to survive, and when the soil is waterlogged, it suffocates the roots.

                                              4. More Pests and Diseases

                                              • Excess moisture in your lawn can encourage the growth of fungi, mold, and other diseases, as well as attract pests like grubs and worms, which can damage your lawn.

                                              Reasons for poor drainage

                                              1. Soil composition (clay or compacted soil)

                                              • Clay soil is heavy and tends to hold water, making it challenging for water to drain properly.

                                              • Compacted soil, whether clay or another type, can also cause poor drainage, as water cannot easily penetrate the tightly packed soil particles.

                                              2. The shape and slope of your yard

                                              • The topography of your yard plays a significant role in how well it drains. If your lawn has low spots or poor grading, water can pool in these areas, leading to drainage issues.

                                              3. Broken or insufficient drainage systems

                                              • If you have an existing drainage system that isn't working correctly or lacks the capacity to handle the water in your yard, it can result in poor drainage.

                                              Figuring Out Your Lawn's Soil Type: Understanding soil texture and composition

                                              • Soil composition refers to the mixture of sand, silt, and clay particles that make up your soil.

                                              • This composition affects how well water drains, with sandy soils draining quickly and clay soils retaining more moisture.

                                              Understanding your soil type can help you determine the best approach to improving drainage.

                                              How to test your soil at home

                                              Jar Test

                                              You can perform a simple DIY soil test using a jar, water, and a sample of your soil.

                                              1. Fill the jar halfway with soil, then add water until it's nearly full.

                                              2. Put a lid on the jar and shake it vigorously for a few minutes.

                                              3. Let the jar sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

                                              • After 24 hours, you'll see layers of soil particles in the jar. The bottom layer will be sand, the middle layer will be silt, and the top layer will be clay. The relative thickness of each layer will give you an idea of your soil composition.

                                              Getting professional help to test your soil

                                              • For a more accurate analysis, consider hiring a professional soil testing service.

                                              • They will provide you with detailed information about your soil's composition, pH levels, and nutrient content, which can help guide your efforts to improve drainage.

                                              Ways to Improve Soil Drainage

                                              • Adding organic matter to your soil can help improve drainage, particularly in clay or compacted soils.

                                              • Organic matter like compost, aged manure, or leaf mold can improve the soil structure, allowing water to drain more efficiently.

                                              Mixing in sand or gravel for better drainage

                                              • Incorporating coarse sand or fine gravel into your soil can improve drainage by creating larger spaces between soil particles, allowing water to move more freely.

                                              • Be sure to use coarse sand or fine gravel, as fine sand can actually make drainage worse by filling in gaps between clay particles.

                                              Aerating and loosening compacted soil

                                              Core aeration technique

                                              • Core aeration is a process that removes small plugs of soil from your lawn, allowing water, air, and nutrients to reach the grass roots more easily.

                                              • This can be done using a manual core aerator or a powered aerator, which can be rented from your local garden center or home improvement store. Perform core aeration in the spring or fall, when your grass is actively growing.

                                              Liquid Aeration Method

                                              • Liquid aeration is a less invasive alternative to core aeration that involves spraying a liquid soil conditioner onto your lawn.

                                              • This product works by breaking up compacted soil and improving drainage, allowing water and air to penetrate more easily. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and timing.

                                              Manual or mechanical ways to break up soil

                                              • In smaller areas, you can use a garden fork or a manual lawn aerator to break up compacted soil and improve drainage.

                                              • Push the fork or aerator into the soil about 4 inches deep, then rock it back and forth to create small holes. Repeat this process every 6 inches across your lawn.

                                              Putting in drainage systems

                                              French drains

                                              • A French drain is an underground drainage system that uses a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel to collect and redirect water away from your lawn.

                                              • This can be an effective solution for lawns with persistent drainage issues. Consult with a professional landscaper or drainage expert to determine the best placement and design for your French drain.

                                              Dry wells

                                              • A dry well is a buried, gravel-filled pit that collects excess water and allows it to slowly infiltrate into the surrounding soil.

                                              • Dry wells can be used in conjunction with French drains or other drainage systems to help manage excess water in your yard. Like French drains, it's best to consult with a professional for proper design and installation.

                                              Swales and Rain Gardens

                                              • Swales are shallow, grassy channels that can help direct water away from your lawn and toward a designated drainage area.

                                              • Rain gardens are shallow depressions filled with water-loving plants that can help absorb excess water.

                                              • Both swales and rain gardens can be attractive landscape features that also help improve drainage.

                                              Adjusting the slope of your lawn

                                              • If your lawn has low spots or poor grading, you may need to adjust the slope to promote better drainage.

                                              • This may involve adding soil to low areas or removing soil from high spots, creating a gentle slope that directs water away from your home and prevents pooling.

                                              • This process, called regrading, is best done by a professional landscaper or grading expert.

                                              Picking the right grass for your yard

                                              Grass types for wet areas

                                              If your lawn consistently experiences poor drainage, consider planting grass species that can tolerate wet conditions.
                                              Some options include

                                              Tall Fescue
                                              Kentucky Bluegrass

                                              Perennial Ryegrass

                                              These grasses have deeper root systems and can better handle excess moisture.

                                              Grass types that can handle less water

                                              • In areas where improved drainage is necessary, consider drought-tolerant grass species like

                                              Bermuda grass

                                              Buffalo grass

                                              Zoysia grass

                                                These grasses can better withstand periods of low moisture and may help prevent over-saturation of your soil.

                                                Lawn Maintenance Tips

                                                1. Proper watering and irrigation methods

                                                Water deeply and infrequently

                                                • Water your lawn deeply, about 1 inch of water per week, or 45 min to an hour in each lawn area, to encourage deep root growth. 

                                                • Watering too often can lead to shallow roots and poor drainage.

                                                • Water early in the morning. Watering early in the day allows the water to soak into the soil before the sun's heat causes evaporation.

                                                Mowing and general lawn care advice

                                                • Proper mowing and lawn care practices can help promote healthy grass and improve drainage

                                                Mow at the correct height

                                                • Keep your grass at the recommended height for its species, usually between 2.5 and 4 inches.

                                                • Taller grass can promote deeper root growth and better drainage.

                                                Keep mower blades sharp

                                                • Dull blades can tear grass, making it more susceptible to pests and diseases that thrive in damp conditions.

                                                Don't mow wet grass

                                                • Mowing wet grass can lead to soil compaction and poor drainage.

                                                Perform annual soil tests

                                                • Regular soil tests can help you monitor your soil's composition, pH, and nutrient levels, allowing you to make adjustments as needed.

                                                Aerate as needed

                                                • Depending on your soil type and lawn conditions, you may need to aerate your lawn every 1-2 years to maintain good drainage.

                                                Amend your soil periodically

                                                • Continue to add organic matter and other amendments to your soil as needed to maintain its structure and drainage capabilities.


                                                • Addressing poor drainage issues in your lawn is crucial for maintaining a healthy, beautiful landscape.

                                                • By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can improve your soil's drainage, create a more resilient lawn, and enjoy the many benefits of a well-draining landscape.

                                                • Committing to ongoing lawn care and maintenance is essential for the long-term success of your drainage improvement efforts.

                                                Eliminate Standing Water with Lawn Aeration

                                                Correct Your Lawn's Drainage Problem: My Simple Guide

                                                  Excess water on your lawn can cause problems like soil compaction, poor plant growth, and mosquito breeding.

                                                  • This article shows you how to get rid of standing water using aeration techniques.

                                                  • We'll discuss the issues caused by standing water, the benefits of aeration, and different aeration methods.

                                                  Problems Caused by Standing Water

                                                  Soil Compaction

                                                  • Water buildup can compact soil, leading to poor drainage and unhealthy plants.

                                                  Poor Plant Growth

                                                  • Compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to access oxygen and nutrients, causing weak or dead plants.


                                                  • Standing water attracts mosquitoes and other pests that can harm your lawn.

                                                  Unattractive Appearance

                                                  • Puddles and swampy areas can damage your lawn's aesthetic and your lawn equipment.

                                                  Why Aerate Your Lawn?

                                                  Aeration creates small holes in the soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots. 

                                                  Improves Soil Drainage

                                                  • Aeration prevents standing water by breaking up compacted soil, which allows the water to penetrate into the subsoil.

                                                  Boost Root Growth

                                                  • Better drainage means healthier plants with stronger roots.

                                                  Reduce Thatch Buildup

                                                  • Aeration helps prevent thatch, which blocks water and nutrients from reaching roots.

                                                  Increase Pest and Disease Resistance

                                                  • A well-aerated lawn is less prone to diseases and pests.

                                                  Aeration Methods to Remove Standing Water

                                                  Manual Aeration

                                                  • Use a garden fork or manual lawn aerator to create small holes in the soil.

                                                  a. Choose a time when soil is moist but not overly wet.

                                                  b. Push the fork or aerator into the ground to create holes 2-4 inches apart and 2-3 inches deep.

                                                  c. Repeat throughout the affected area.

                                                  Mechanical Aeration

                                                  • Rent a mechanical aerator for more efficiency, especially on larger lawns.

                                                  a. Choose a time when soil is moist but not overly wet.

                                                  b. Adjust the aerator's settings according to the manufacturer's instructions.

                                                  c. Guide the aerator over the lawn, making multiple passes if needed.

                                                  Core Aeration

                                                  • Remove small cores or plugs of soil using a core aerator, ideal for lawns with heavy clay soil.

                                                  a. Choose a time when soil is moist but not overly wet.

                                                  b. Set up the core aerator following the manufacturer's instructions.

                                                  c. Guide the aerator over the lawn, making multiple passes if needed.

                                                  Slit Aeration

                                                  • Cut narrow slits in the soil using a slit-seeder, suitable for sandy or loamy soils.

                                                  a. Choose a time when soil is moist but not overly wet.

                                                  b. Adjust the slit-seeder's settings according to the manufacturer's instructions.

                                                  c. Guide the slit-seeder over the lawn.

                                                  Extra Tips for Tackling Standing Water

                                                  Improve Grading

                                                  • Ensure your lawn slopes away from your home to help water drain

                                                  Install a French Drain

                                                  • Redirect excess water with a trench filled with gravel and a perforated pipe.

                                                  Add Organic Matter

                                                  • Improve soil structure and drainage by adding compost or well-rotted manure.

                                                  Plant Water-Tolerant Grasses

                                                  • Consider grass varieties like tall fescue or buffalo grass for better water tolerance.


                                                  Aeration is an effective way to improve drainage and prevent standing water on your lawn. By choosing the right aeration method and following additional tips, you can enjoy a healthy, beautiful lawn.

                                                  What Should I Do With The Plugs On My Lawn After Aeration

                                                  Should You Rake Up Plugs After Aerating a Lawn?

                                                  I would not rake up the plugs after aerating, because leaving them, to decompose back into your lawn, offers the benefit of nourishing your grasses, and soil as the plugs break down over the course of a few days.

                                                  Why You Should Leave The Plugs On Your Lawn After Aeration

                                                  Plugs contain organic matter

                                                    • When you aerate your lawn, the machine removes small cores of soil and grass, which are then deposited on the surface of the lawn.
                                                      • These plugs contain organic matter, such as grass clippings, leaves, and microbes, which are essential for a healthy lawn.
                                                      • As the plugs break down, they release nutrients back into the soil, promoting stronger grass growth.

                                                      Plugs help to reduce thatch

                                                        • Thatch can prevent air, water, and nutrients from reaching the grass roots.
                                                        • When you leave the plugs on the lawn after aerating, they help to break up thatch, allowing it to decompose more easily.

                                                        Plugs improve soil structure

                                                          • When you leave the plugs on the lawn, they help to improve soil structure by filling in the holes left by the aerator.
                                                          • This promotes better air and water circulation, which is essential for healthy grass growth.

                                                          Raking can damage the grass

                                                            • Raking up plugs after aerating can cause damage to the grass by pulling out healthy grass roots and creating bare patches. This can lead to a weaker lawn overall.


                                                            • Aerating your lawn is an important step in maintaining a healthy lawn, and leaving the plugs on the lawn after aerating is generally recommended.

                                                            • The plugs contain organic matter, help to reduce thatch, improve soil structure, and prevent damage to the grass.

                                                            • If you're concerned about the appearance of the plugs, mow your lawn a few times after aerating to help break up the plugs and promote faster decomposition.

                                                            • By following proper lawn care practices and leaving the plugs on the lawn after aerating, you can promote a healthier, more resilient lawn for years to come.

                                                            Photo by
                                                            Chad Freeman
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