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plug aeration

Richard Martin

LawnSite Fanatic
Greenville, NC
I leave mine behind on the lawn. You will not see an immediate improvement. It sometimes takes years but aeration should be a part of every lawn maintenance program.


LawnSite Senior Member
Greenville, SC
I am learning more about this, what do you guys do with the plugs? Is the results very noticeable?
i collect each one and number them so i can put them back where they belong in the fall.
Plant roots need air in the soil and good drainage. In their absence, root systems will be shallow and weak. In lawns, signs of compacted soil include poor drainage (puddles), excessive weeds despite the use of good weed controls and poor grass growth despite good maintenance practices.

When the soil is compacted, nutrients and water are slow to get to the roots, further weakening the plants. Soil compaction is a problem in high traffic areas or where heavy equipment has been used for construction, grading or even mowing.

An effective tool should produce holes at least three quarters of an inch in diameter and penetrate three inches deep. Also, the plugs should be no more than three inches apart, approx. 20-40 holes in every square foot. The holes allow for air, rain and nutrients to penetrate the soil better. It also gives the roots room to grow and encourages growth of beneficial soil microorganisms. This stimulates root growth and prevents thatch build-up.

Because aerating creates quite a few openings in the lawn, it is best done from late-August to mid-September, when lawns are less susceptible to weeds and the ground is moist without being drenched. If it’s late fall, make sure to do it early enough that the turf has at least 30 days to recover before the soil freezes and winter sets in.

You can also aerate in spring when the ground is cool but not waterlogged. The idea is to allow your lawn to heal from this process. Aerating in the middle of a hot summer is not advised.

The lawn will look rough for a few weeks. Leave the cores on the surface to dissolve over the next few weeks. The soil in the cores contains millions of microorganisms that help digest thatch naturally, creating a healthier lawn.

If we have a long dry period after core aerating, run the sprinkler to help break down the cores. Another way to help disolve them faster is to run the mower over them, (Sharpen your blades when done). Avoid using aerators that are simply rollers with spikes. They just push soil aside, adding to the compaction problem.

The down side of core aeration is that it also brings up quite a few weed seeds from the soil bank. You may want to consider using a pre emergent weed control in the spring to minimize the weed problem.

Jason Rose

LawnSite Fanatic
Agree with what she said ^^

I love the people on here, and there are some, that argue that core aeration does nothing for thatch. Sorry, but t does, matter of fact it does MORE for combatting thatch than any power-rake "dethatcher" could ever do. Customers are also tough to convince of this that are "old school" and think that power rake is the best thing next to sliced bread.

Pull the plugs with the machine and let them break down. If you or the customer dosn't want them laying there, which IS a problem with clay soils, the mud you track around, espically if hey have pets, is a big deal. Let the plugs dry out after you aerate and come back and run over the lawn with a slicer. that will break up the plugs and also the slicer will help cut into the thatch and help water and air to penetrate it.

I avoid power raking as much as possible. Just don't believe in it.


LawnSite Platinum Member
Shawnee Kansas


LawnSite Platinum Member
Shawnee Kansas
Even better when ya sell em overseeding with it.
I dont do overseeding with aeration. I want the seed into the ground and with aerating more of the seed will be sitting on top of the lawn then in the soil.

When I overseed I always verticut one direction put the seed down, verticut another direction and then more seed.