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Best Time to Aerate Lawn and Over Seed Your Lawn

Aerating and over seeding your lawn are among the key lawn maintenance activities to help keep your lawn looking great and lush. But, when is the best time to aerate lawn and over seed? Getting your aerating and over seeding timelines wrong will not produce the desired results. And, it may end up being a waste of time, energy, and money. This is because the soil won’t get sufficient nutrients, oxygen, and water to sustain the new seedlings. In this post, we look at the best time to aerate and over seed your lawn to make sure your damaged lawn recovers.

What is the Best Time to Aerate Lawn and Over Seed

Aerate and Overseed Lawn

Aeration is the process of pulling small soil plugs, also known as cores, throughout your lawn using a plug or spikes. It’s crucial to the health of your lawn because it enhances the supply of oxygen, water, and nutrients to the grass.

Despite its literal meaning, over seeding is not the process of spreading excessive grass seeds. It’s simply spreading grass seeds on an existing lawn. Reseeding is a great way to repair and improve an existing lawn. 

Over-seeding is especially helpful after instances such as an outbreak of disease, pest infestation, shade damage, and damage from kids, pets, and vehicles.

Given the crucial role aeration and over seeding play in the health of your lawn, it’s important to get the timing right.

What’s the best time to aerate lawn and reseed It?

According to most experts, the best time to aerate and over seed your lawn is early fall between mid-August, throughout September, and early October. The cool nights, warm soils, and dying annual weeds associated with fall makes it the best time to reseed your lawn.

Can you reseed the lawn in spring?

Unlike during the fall season, the soil is cold and full of dormant weeds ready to germinate during spring.

Weeds often win the race for nutrients and growing space during spring, eventually out-competing your newly seeded lawn.

While the grass will germinate, the seedlings will have to compete for nutrients, space, and light with dormant seeds and weeds. Since the weed grows faster it will eventually smother the grass.

Summer is also not a good time because the excess direct heat damages the young grass’s tender and shallow root systems.

Characteristics of the best times to over seed a lawn:

●       Warm day temperatures and cool nights

●       When the underground has no dormant weed

●       Predictable low rains

●       Favorable conditions for germination

●       a day or two after rainfall

●       Within 48 hours after aeration

What Season is the Best Time to Aerate Lawn

According to experts, reseeding should be done within 48 hours after aerating the lawn. Basically, aerating and reseeding a lawn are done concurrently. This means fall is also the best time to aerate your lawn. So, you can aerate and over seed your lawn from September 1 to November 30.

The month you decide to aerate and reseed your lawn should coincide with the high-growth season of your grass, which varies by grass type:

●       Cool-season grass: These grasses grow in areas that experience hot summers and cold winters, such as Northern California. If you are in an area with grass like Ryegrass, Bluegrass, or Fescue, you should consider aerating in March or September when the soil temperatures are below 65°F.

●       Warm-season grass: They commonly grow in areas characterized by warm weather, especially in the Deep South and the lower Southeast and Southwest. These grass types turn brown in the winter. Grasses for summer such as Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, Centipede, Zoysia, or buffalo grass should be aerated in May or June when the soil temperatures are above 65°F.

You should avoid aerating your lawn during months of extreme drought or heat. This is because it exposes the soil to more heat, accelerating the drying rate of your lawn.

It’s also important to note that the best time or aerate your lawn might change year to year due to weather patterns. Make sure you aerate based on what you see rather than dates on a calendar.

Another key consideration during over seeding is the type of grass you are over seeding. If the current type of grass is growing and looking great, overseed the same type. You can also decide to go for another variety provided it’s ideal for your location. Different varieties of grass perform differently in different areas. The trick here is to first know your zone and then choose the appropriate variety.

Check out the different planting zones according to the USDA.

What are the Underlying Causes for Bare Patches in the Lawn

Best time to aerate Lawn

It’s also key to diagnose the underlying issues that are causing the bare and patchy sections. If they are man made for instance kids playing, there is nothing to worry about.

However, if the areas occurred naturally there may be something worth investigating. Some underlying issues may include PH levels, nutrient deficiency, drainage issues, fungus, improper mowing, pet urine, etc.

How Do I Prepare My Lawn for Aeration and Over seeding?

Before starting your aeration and over seeding process, there are a few things you should take into consideration to ensure you get the best results

Here is how you should prepare your lawn for aeration and over seeding:

●       Run a soil test: Send a sample of your soil to your state’s Cooperative Extension Service or run the soil test on a DIY kit. If you send the sample to CES, you’ll have to wait at least two weeks for the results to be processed.

The soil test will show you the soil PH, nutrient composition, and if your lawn soil has contaminants.

The nutrient composition and PH levels will guide you on the type of fertilizer you should apply. If there are contaminants you should consult about the available removal options.

●       Mark hidden objects: First, mark the positions of hidden objects in your lawn, such as existing sprinkler heads, valve box centers, in-ground lights, and invincible fences, among other objects. Use different colors for each position you mark, like white for sprinkler heads, red for valve box centers, etc.

●       Cut the grass: Mow your lawn one or two days before the actual process begins and make it lower than usual. Set the mowing height to one and one-half inches to avoid scalping your lawn. 

●       Water your lawn: If the weather is too dry, water your lawn thoroughly a few days before the process starts. To check if the soil is moist enough, drive a screwdriver into the ground; if it penetrates smoothly, you’re all good.

●       Dethatch: This is the process of removing dead layers of decomposed debris and grass from the soil. Use a thatch rake, power rake, or dethatching machine to go over the lawn with a mower and trash bag. 

Step by Step How to Aerate Lawn

Once you have prepared your lawn for aeration and over seeding, it’s time to start the process. First, determine which areas have the most grass cover. That is recommended because you have to aerate the area several times and overseed the areas with less growth.

●       Step one: Start from one corner of your yard, moving it side to side until the entire lawn is aerated properly. Remember to leave the aerated plugs after covering the entire area. You can decide to aerate just the sections you are over-seeding or the entire turf. Aeration is helpful even for a healthy and great-looking lawn.

●       Step two: Spread compost, topsoil, sand, or any other fertilizer you prefer to help boost the germination rate.

●       Step three: As soon as you fertilize the soil, proceed to overseed your lawn. Spread the seeds sparingly across areas with high grass density and excessively on less dense lawn segments. 

Make sure you are using high-quality grass seeds from a reputable company.

●       Step four: Slightly rake your lawn to help the seeds penetrate the existing plants and come into contact with the soil.

●       Step five: Water the lawn for about two to three weeks, being careful not to over-water, and remember to keep off the lawn.

Can You Aerate and Overseed at the Same Time?

Not only can you aerate and overseed your lawn simultaneously, but it’s also highly recommended because it saves time and resources. Technically, you can aerate your lawn without over seeding, but it leaves your lawn open for any seed to germinate, including weeds.

To that end, you should overseed your lawn a day or two after aerating the soil to starve out potential weeds. This is much easier because aeration leaves perfectly sized holes where some grass seeds can fall into and germinate. Since the grass seeds won’t fall into every aeration hole, plenty will be left open for oxygen, water, and nutrients required to grow. 

Should I Overseed or Fertilize After Aerating?

You should consider fertilizing your lawn after aerating and over seeding the soil for better results. In addition to natural nutrients, fertilizers deliver essential nutrients vital to your yard’s healthy growth.

Starter fertilizers like Milorganite 6-4-0 are great at aeration and over seeding because they slowly release nitrogen to the soil, which will activate at the same time the seeds start to germinate and require nutrients the most. Fertilizers also prevent existing grass from growing too quickly and too tall. 

Should I Pick Up Plugs After Aerating?

Women wearing aerating shoes

Plugs are little cylinders of soil that are left behind after core aeration. These plugs might not be as aesthetically pleasing, and you might be tempted to remove them from your lawn. However, the plugs are crucial to the health of your lawn, and you should resist any urge to clean your lawn after aeration.

So, what do you do with the plugs if you can’t remove them? Absolutely nothing. It takes around one to two weeks for the plugs to break down naturally. You can break down the plugs even faster by watering your lawn regularly or hoping for rainfall.

You can also use a lawn mower to break down the plugs into smaller chunks of soil. However, if you over seeded immediately after aerating, wait for approximately two to three weeks for the seeds to sprout to avoid mowing over seeds.   

Should You Water After Aerating and Seeding?

The main goal after aeration and over seeding is ensuring your lawn is moist as the seeds start to germinate. This means your lawn requires less water but more frequently than normal. Consider watering your lawn two times each day for at least 15 to 20 minutes. While you can water your lawn by dragging a hose and sprinkler around, advanced irrigation systems are more efficient because they can self-activate at specified times.

Can You Aerate Your Lawn Too Early?

Aeration is a season-specific activity, and issues will arise if you aerate your lawn too early. Even if you are following a calendar, it’s possible to mistakenly aerate your lawn early which is why it’s important to aerate your lawn based on current weather patterns. For example, if you aerate your lawn before the last frost hits, the soil will become cold and all the seeds will die. You should also avoid aerating too early in the summer because the harsh heat will limit germination. 

Should I Add Topsoil After Aerating

If you want to overseed your lawn after aeration, adding topsoil dressing might be helpful. Topsoil is rich in nutrients and has a loose structure that helps drainage. Ensure the topsoil matches the soil on your lawn to avoid water drainage issues. You should only apply about a quarter inch or so of topsoil before proceeding with over-seeding.

ConclusionBest Time to Aerate Lawn

A less appealing lawn is not only an eye sore but can also lower the value of your home, which is why it’s important to take care of your lawn regularly. Aeration and over seeding are among the most effective ways to improve and maintain the vibrant and health of your lawn. Remember, the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn is when it’s neither too hot nor too cold.