Why Aeration Is Important for Your Garden

Helping the plants in your garden or the grass on your lawn better absorb oxygen isn’t the only benefit you gain from properly aerating your landscape.  The range of benefits will leave your plants and lawn healthier and stronger, and even works to combat run off,  helping to improve soil quality.    

Why Does Soil Need to be Aerated?


Soil needs to be aerated because over time it gets compacted in various ways. Weather, walking on it or soil type will contribute to how compact the ground has become, which compromises its ability to hold on to oxygen, vital to the health of your lawn and garden.  It can also make it difficult for plants to absorb the nutrients from fertilizer you use because the lack of oxygen and space in the soil makes it difficult for water to carry fertilizer or natural nutrients into the dense soil.

Soil can also be compacted by dense root systems of plants that have otherwise been blooming fully and happily for years, but suddenly wilt or droop due to not being able to get oxygen from the soil.

Prevents Toxin Build Up

Plants release small amounts of CO2 and other emissions that get trapped in soil with poor oxygen levels which can be damaging to the plants, hindering their ability to grow. CO2 damages plant roots making it difficult for them to take in the nutrients they need to flourish. 

Benefits the Soil’s Microorganisms 

Aeration also helps the micro organisms in the soil get oxygen more efficiently which allows them to provide nutrients to the plant’s root systems.  The more efficient microorganisms are in the soil, the better their ability to break down organic matter into the nutrients your plant needs and perform other vital functions that contribute to the health of your garden. 

Types of Aeration

The common methods of aeration are done by either a plug aerator or a spike aerator, and are available for you to purchase and treat your landscape on your own, or hire a lawn care professional that can take care of it for you.  

Plug Aerator

This method of aeration is recommended as the best way to properly aerate your lawn or garden by lawn care professionals.  This type of aeration works by punching out about 2 inch long cylinders in the grass, leaving small holes in the ground at varying intervals. 

Plug aeration helps with relieving the layer of thatch, or dead grass that builds up on a lawn to allow a better ability to absorb water, and giving space for new grass to seed and grow. Once the layer of thatch in your yard reaches a half an inch thick it’s a good indicator that it’s time to aerate your lawn. 

This form of aeration has the added benefit of also stopping insect infestations or diseases from infecting your lawn and garden. It also improves soil drainage preventing fungal diseases taking over and spreading. 

Spike Aerator

This sort of aeration is done by spikes being pressed into the ground, pushing soil out of the way to form small holes in the ground.  This can be less beneficial than plug aeration as it pushes the soil together and can further compact it, getting less oxygen into the soil.  

Other Important Considerations

  • The best time to aerate the lawn and garden is during the growing seasons which allow plants time to benefit from the extra nutrients.  Soil that is more sandy, or if your grass seems healthy and not spongy in texture will not need to be aerated every year, sometimes only needing to be aerated every 2-3 years. 
  • If you receive heavy foot traffic in your yard, or have clay soil in your garden, yearly aeration may be necessary to help offset the extra compaction on the soil. 
  •  In extreme climates, or ones with especially harsh winters, you may need to aerate a lawn 2 times a year, in the spring and fall.
  • After aerating a lawn and garden it’s good to add fertilizer, and new seeds a few days after the aeration has taken place. Using fertilizer so soon after aeration helps prevent it from running off before it has a chance to sink into your soil and benefit your plants.