How to Aerate Your Lawn – Gas Free

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Best gas-free tools for lawn aeration

The best time to aerate your lawn is when it is peak growing season, as this gives your grass the best chance for a quick recovery. That means, whether you have cool-season grasses or warm-season grasses, you will need to aerate sometime over the next few months. This is unfortunate timing because gas prices that have already hit record highs will continue to climb over the summer.

While a tow-behind lawn aerator is a great option, it requires fuel for your tractor. Luckily, there are many gas-free alternatives when it comes to aerating your lawn.

Why do I need to aerate my lawn?

To survive, plants require air, water and nutrients. These elements are taken in through the plant’s root system. When the soil gets compacted due to foot traffic, yard work, activities, harsh weather and more, it can no longer efficiently transport the essentials your lawn needs to thrive. Without these vital elements, your lawn will lose its colour and begin to thin. A lawn aerator is a machine or a tool that opens up space in compacted soil so your grass can get everything it needs.

When should I aerate my lawn?

You should aerate your lawn once each year during the peak growing season. However, it is important to understand that there are cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses, and each has a different peak growing season.

The peak growing season for cool-season grasses is early spring or fall when the temperatures are a little cooler. Warm-season grasses grow the most in the warmer — but not the hottest — period, which is late spring through early summer.

Signs I need to aerate my lawn

If you are wondering how to know if your lawn needs to be aerated, here are a few key signs to watch for:

Discoloured patches

Since compacted soil keeps nutrients from nourishing your lawn, one sign you need to aerate is patches of grass that are yellow or brown. Be careful not to mistake the naturally occurring preseason brown of Zoysia grass as a symptom of compacted soil.

Thinning grass

Once your soil becomes so compacted that it can’t support adequate growth, your lawn will begin to die off. This will be evident in patches of thinning or altogether missing sections of grass.

A thick layer of thatch

Thatch is a layer of debris that accumulates on top of your soil. Up to about a half inch of thatch is beneficial to the health of your lawn. However, when thatch builds up beyond a half inch, which can be a result of compacted soil, it can suffocate your lawn. Compacted soil creates a shallow root system on your lawn, which leads to faster accumulating thatch.


Water that doesn’t run off your property sits there until it evaporates or is absorbed by the soil. If you have puddles that linger long after the rain has ended, it means your soil is compacted and cannot easily absorb water.

Inability to moisten

If your soil has only two states, dry or puddled, then it is a sign it is compacted. Healthy soil absorbs water, allowing it to stay moist and nurture the root system of your lawn.

Quick test for compacted soil

To quickly test how compacted your soil is, simply slide a screwdriver into your lawn. If you can easily drive it 6 inches into the soil, your soil is healthy. If you struggle, it’s time to aerate.

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