Picture of the Week

September 19, 2022

Fall: A Great Time for Lawn Aerification​

John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Fall is a perfect time for homeowners to aerify their lawns. Aerification is the use of a machine to remove small cores of soil from the lawn. Aerificiaton is performed to control thatch build-up and/or soil compaction. What is thatch? Thatch is an organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that accumulate just above the soil surface. Over-fertilizing, over-watering, and soil compaction can all cause this build-up of this organic material which impedes the movement of air, water, and nutrients to turf roots. A thatch layer of 0.5 inch thick or less is desired. But, when this layer is 0.5 inch thick or more, the use of a dethatching machine or aerifier is necessary to decrease the amount of thatch. If the thatch layer is thicker than 1.0 inch, the sod may need to be removed and the area reseeded. Aerification makes holes through the thatch to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach turf roots. New roots can also grow inside the aerifier holes leading to a healthier lawn. When aerifying a lawn, homeowners should be sure the aerifier produces 20-40 holes per square foot, 2-3 inches deep. Performing aerification when the soil is not too wet or too dry will help produce these results. Core aerifiers can be rented at most rental centers or hardware stores. These machines may require the operator to make multiple passes over the lawn to provide effective results. If homeowners miss aerifying their lawn in the fall, spring is also a recommended time.​

 Click image to enlarge
thatch close-up Close-up of a thatch layer. (Photo by Zac Reicher)
aerifier holes Close-up of aerifier holes in a home lawn. (Photo by Mary Welch-Keesey)
commercial aerifier Commercial aerifier being used on a creeping bentgrass green. (Photo by John Orick)

Related Articles and Publications:


Publication AY-8-W Mowing, Dethatching, Aerifying, and Rolling Turf, AY-8-W
lawn care tips Winter Lawn Care Tips
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