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Lawn Aeration: How Deep?

By Kimberly Richardson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Play, traffic and clay soil contribute to compacted turf.

You mow your lawn, you fertilize your lawn, but you may not remember to aerate your lawn. Yearly aeration reduces soil compaction and breaks through layers of thatch, ensuring healthy turf from the roots to the blades.


Spike aerators push solid tines into the soil. They are not as efficient as core aerators, which remove a plug of soil and deposit it on the lawn surface. Both styles are available as manual rollers or as more efficient mechanical aerators.


The deeper the roots, the healthier the lawn.

Aerate at least to the depth of your lawn's roots. Use a shovel to determine the depth. Aerator tines may reach from 1 inch, which is fairly ineffective, to 6 inches. According to the Colorado University Extension, aerate as deep as possible, spacing cores 2 inches apart.


Avoid sprinkler heads and aerating near the roots of shrubs or trees.

Mark sprinkler heads and shallow utility or cable lines before aerating. Do not aerate new lawns for the first year. Water the lawn 2 days before aerating to soften the soil, but do not aerate muddy or wet lawns.


About the Author


Kimberly Richardson has been writing since 1995. She has written successful grants for local schools as well as articles for various websites, specializing in garden-related topics. Richardson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and is enrolled in her local Master Gardener program.