Plug aerators sink metal tines into the soil underneath your lawn, pulling up plugs of earth from the lawn. The holes created by the plug aeration allow water and nutrients to reach the root substructure of your grass, helping it grow thicker and stronger. Aeration also combats compaction of the lawn, so rain that falls on the lawn won't run off, but will soak into the ground. A regular program of aeration is one of the best ways to improve the look of your lawn.
Choose the Right Time of Year for Aeration
Aeration is ideally done twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Winter is not a good time for aeration, since the climate in most areas precludes working on the lawn, while the heat and typically dry conditions of summer can be stressful to the lawn. Spring and fall, with their more moderate temperatures and moister conditions, are prime growing seasons for lawns, and provide optimal conditions for aeration.
Ensure Conditions are Right for Aeration
An aerator removes plugs of soil from the lawn, inhibiting compaction and encouraging the flow of water and nutrients to the root structure of the grass. Therefore, it's important that conditions be suitable for aeration before you start. Mow the grass fairly short before the aeration--this prevents grass from being forced into the holes created by the aerator when it does its work. If the holes are clogged with excess grass, the benefit of creating the hole is diminished. And most importantly, aerate when the ground is slightly damp and moist. This lets the aerator do its work of pulling out plugs of earth more effectively than when the ground is hard and dry.
Prepare Your Lawn for Aeration
To get the maximum benefit from aeration, it's best to do it in conjunction with fertilization and overseeding. The process of aeration, when the tines of the aerator are forced into the ground, will serve to work the nutrients of fertilizer and grass seed into the soil where they can perform their work more effectively than they could if they lay on the surface of the ground. Use a fertilizer designed for the season you're in--there are specific blends available for spring and fall seasons. Also, choose grass seed that's appropriate for your climate range and conditions. The local extension offices of state universities usually have excellent information on local soil types and the most appropriate grass seed blends to use. To ensure uniform coverage of grass seed and fertilizer, follow the instructions for coverage supplied with the product, and use the appropriate spreader for the application.