Aeration do’s and don’ts

Crews performing aeration should take care to survey the area and remove any obstacles or hazards. (Photo: Billy Goat)
Crews performing aeration should take care to survey the area and remove any obstacles or hazards. (Photo: Billy Goat)

With spring may come the need for aeration. While warm-season aeration may not start until later in the spring, aeration may start for cool-season grasses very soon.

Remember, says Brandon King, product manager for Billy Goat, “There is no ‘single thing’ that should or should not be done before, during or after aeration. There are ‘several’ important things to consider.”

King and Ron Scheffler, senior product manager for Ryan, reveal what you should and shouldn’t do during aeration.


  • Do mow the lawn before aerating to maximize the effectiveness of aeration. – RS
  • Do ensure the property has been watered the night before aeration to help to maximize the depth of plug pulled. Ask the homeowner or property manager to facilitate this. – BK
    Do mark sprinkler heads and obstacles. This prevents costly repairs to damaged items hit with the aerator. – BK
  • It’s best to aerate before you apply preemergent herbicides, rather than after. Aerating after an herbicide application can reduce the chemical barrier formed by the herbicide, allowing weeds to germinate. – RS
  • Do inspect tines for wear and damage to protect from doing a subpar aeration job. – BS
  • Do select proper tines for the property you’re aerating with proper spikes/coring/venting. – BK
  • Do carry spare tines, as damage can occur to tines during aeration, and having extra available on the job site saves on downtime. – BK
  • Do communicate with your clients about the benefits of aeration. Communicating to customers can be as simple as mailers, door hangings or emailing if customers prefer. A shortlist on the benefits of aeration can go a long way, and your customers may be especially interested in improving their lawn since people are spending more time at home recently. – RS


  • Don’t overwater, but the lawn should be moist to allow the aerator tines to slip into the soil easier. – RS
  • Don’t put down grass seed or fertilizer before aeration. This is to be done after aeration for seed and soil contact benefits. – BK
  • Don’t aerate during a drought or high heat times of the season. The added stress to the lawn during these times will cause damage. – BK
  • Don’t aerate recently installed sod for at least 12 months. Give the grass a season for the roots to take hold; aerating too early could pull the sod up. – BK


  • Do take the time to ensure safety and proper operation during aeration. Hurried work can lead to turf tear and improper machine use, which often leads to repairs to the lawn and equipment. – RS
  • Do spend extra time on dead or bare areas to properly repair and seed. This ensures better seed to soil contact and better results. – BK


  • Don’t drive the aerator over obstacles like sprinkler heads, control boxes or rocks. Damage will occur to the property and the aerator that will affect the profitability of the job. – BK
  • Don’t walk too much on lawns after aeration to allow new grass to grow if you seed during aerating. – RK
  • Don’t drive the aerator on driveways or sidewalks without the tines raised as damage will occur to the aerator. – BK


  • Do remove cores if the lawn type will sustain damage from leaving the cores, such as with some warm-season grasses. – BK
  • Do apply fertilizer after aeration; it helps the lawn compete against weeds. – RS
  • Do put down grass seed to fill in bare spots. – BK
  • Do water the lawn to help break the cores down if not being collected, which is also required if seed has been applied. – BK


  • Don’t mow the lawn within 10 days after aeration. (Aerating) is stressful to the lawn in the short term and healthy in the long term; cutting the lawn directly after causes more stress and can cause damage. – BK
  • Don’t pick up the cores. A landscaper should leave the plugs on the lawn’s surface. The plugs will break down soon enough and provide plenty of nutrients to the turf. – RS
Christina Herrick headshot (Photo: LM Staff)

Christina Herrick

Christina Herrick is a former Editor for Landscape Management. A Journalist graduate from Ohio Northern University, Christina is known for sharing her insightful experiences on the road with her audience.

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