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Should I Aerate in Spring or Fall? Lawn Care Tips for MN & WI Homeowners


When you look at what to do in spring vs fall, some things are obvious.

Spring is time for busting out the grill, getting your irrigation system started up, and wearing that Star Trek tank top your partner keeps threatening to burn.

Fall is the time for raking leaves, munching caramel apples, and planning your Halloween costume. (Wear that tank top. It’s pretty scary.)

Other plans are trickier. Like, what’s the right time for lawn aeration?

It seems like it might be spring, when you jump into so many tasks for lawn care in Minneapolis, MN & Eau Claire, WI. Then again, maybe it’s fall.

What’s the best aeration schedule? Get your calendar handy and let’s take a look:

First, a Look at How Aeration Works

Before we tackle the “when” of aeration it helps to know the “what.”

What exactly is going on out there?

Lawn aeration pulls out little plugs of soil, creating spaces so that air and water can penetrate, which leads to healthier roots. Healthier roots make for a healthier, thicker lawn, better able to resist pests and diseases and tolerate summer’s heat and drought.

lawn care technician running an aerator and pulling cores out of a lawn

When to aerate? Aeration is especially helpful when your soil becomes compacted, and your lawn can't breathe. Its roots can't take in water or nutrients, which weakens your turf and opens the door for disease and weeds.

Soil with a high clay content is especially likely to get compacted, as the particles squeeze together tightly, making it tough for water and oxygen to get through.

A cool machine called an aerator pulls out the tiny cores of soil from your lawn, allowing water and oxygen to get to the roots.

Aeration is sometimes followed by overseeding, as the holes created by aeration are perfect new homes for grass seed.

Lawn Aeration in Spring: Is It a Good Idea?

It seems like it would be, right? But not really. Here’s why:

All those little holes that aeration makes in your lawn are the perfect home for weed seeds to settle in and sprout. And there are a ton of weed seeds blowing around in the spring.

Weeds seeds — especially crabgrass —  are the first seeds to germinate in the spring, and aerating the lawn just stirs them up and gives them a perfect home.

lawn care technician operating a powered lawn aeratorSpring is the time to apply that super-important pre-emergent weed control to keep crabgrass from showing up. But that crabgrass preventer also kills new grass. The two don’t get along.

Here’s one noteworthy exception: If you live near Eau Claire, WI or Minneapolis you can partner with RainMaster to do your lawn care. We have a pro-level product that will kill weeds without harming your new grass. We can apply it the day we seed.

So - when to aerate? If you aerate and seed in the spring, by the time that tender new grass is growing, it’s the heat of summer. So your new grass is trying to grow in heat, dry conditions, lots of lawn mowing and foot traffic from active kids and dogs and backyard parties.

Why put so many obstacles in its way? Being new grass is hard enough.

Why Lawn Aeration in Fall is Best

Fall is perfect for lawn aeration. Here’s why:

  • The weather is nice and cool in the fall, which is perfect for that new grass seed to germinate and grow.
  • There’s usually no threat of frost yet in September, like there is in the spring.
  • Lawn aeration in the fall means you don’t have to worry about spring crabgrass preventer killing your grass seed.
  • Fall can be rainy, which means free watering from Mother Nature.
  • There are fewer weed seeds blowing around in the fall that can settle into the aeration holes and grow.
  • Lawn aeration in the fall gives new grass time to grow and store nutrients before it goes dormant for the winter.

There’s less mowing and foot traffic in the fall, making it easier for new grass to thrive.

Do You Have to Pair Aeration with Seeding?

Nope. Just aerating your lawn is really beneficial. That’s why it’s included in our top two tiers of lawn care programs.

Lawn aeration also helps break down thatch. Thatch is a layer of dead grass and stems that sits between the grass blades and the soil.

When lawn aeration removes plugs from the thatch, it helps it decompose, so oxygen, nutrients, and moisture can get to the roots.

lawn care technician filling a spreader with grass seed

But there are benefits to seeding after aeration:

If your lawn has thin spots, or you see fungus or disease, those are signs some fresh, quality seed can do your lawn some real good.

It’s a good idea to introduce new varieties of high-quality grass seed into your lawn occasionally. New, improved seed is always being developed that’s more resistant to drought, insects, and disease or has other impressive qualities.

When considering your aeration schedule, there’s no better time to seed than right after aeration. All those little holes are the perfect receptacles for seed-to-soil contact. Might as well take advantage of it.

But, just like everything else, grass seed has zoomed up in price lately.

The cost for aeration for an average 12,000 square foot yard is $208. The cost to add overseeding can be three times that amount for high-quality seed.

Read Our Guide to Lawn Care in Minnesota & Wisconsin

So some homeowners decide to take advantage of the benefits of aeration without the added expense of seed.

Other lawn care companies might cut costs by switching to cheaper seed or using less seed on lawns. We’re not willing to do that. You want great results and a healthy, thriving lawn, and so do we.

What’s the Best Aeration Schedule? Trust RainMaster

There’s a lot to keep track of when fall rolls around.

Raking leaves is a full-time job. You’ll need a new ice scraper before the snow flies. Where’s that Scooby Doo Halloween costume you stashed away last year?

You have better things to do than worry about your lawn and the perfect aeration schedule.

All you need for a healthy, green, thriving lawn is one smart choice: RainMaster.

Consider it a team effort. Aeration and seeding is just one part of a custom nutrition plan for your lawn, so the roots will be nourished, the soil packed with nutrients, and your grass thick and healthy.

Are you ready to help your lawn’s roots breathe again? Request a quote today! We’ll review your options together so you can make a great choice. Then, you can finally enjoy your lawn and stop worrying about it.

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Topics: Lawn Care

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