Aerate Lawn | Before Or After Mowing?

Over time, the lawn soil becomes compacted, so that the grass roots no longer get enough air. Therefore, regular aeration, also known as aerification, makes sense. But when is the best time to do it?

What is aerating?

By the term “aerating the lawn” the gardener understands the perforation of the upper soil structure, for example, with a digging fork or a special aerator. These are tools or equipment designed to aerate the soil, such as spiked shoes (“lawn aerators”) or a hand aerator. Aeration is designed to loosen compacted soil so that water and air can get back to the grass roots and the lawn will grow better.

Reasons for aerating

Busy lawns, in particular, become compacted over time. These include, above all, areas that are used as

  • Sports turf
  • Playing lawn
  • walking or lying lawns

These are therefore frequently walked on. This means that the upper soil layer is increasingly compressed and loses its looseness. In such a soil, the grass roots can no longer spread properly, and in addition, rainwater accumulates on the surface and no longer seeps into the deeper layers. As a result, the grasses are insufficiently supplied with moisture and nutrients. Weeds and moss spread increasingly and displace the lawn.

Tip: You can tell whether your lawn soil is compacted by the formation of puddles after a downpour: If the water remains on the surface for a long time and only seeps in slowly or not at all, it is high time for aerification.

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Best time

Spring is the beginning of the growing season. After the long winter dormancy, plants put most of their energy into forming new shoots and roots. In order to grow and flourish healthily until the fall, they need good care and thus support in early spring. For a lawn, this means

  • liming in the fall
  • mowing for the first time in March
  • scarify
  • aerify
  • fertilize

The best time to aerify is after the first lawn mowing, as the grasses are then nice and short and you can loosen the soil better.

loosen the soil. Also, dethatching is done after the first mowing and should be done before aerifying.
Note: Dethatching and aerifying are two fundamentally different things, even though they both have the goal of better lawn aeration. When dethatching, you remove moss and lawn thatch; when aerifying, you make holes in the soil.


In general, though, aerification can be done more frequently throughout the year, depending on how compacted the soil is.

Aerification can be done all year round

  • first time in spring
  • in case of heavily compacted soils another time in summer or autumn
  • never aerate after heavy rain
  • not even during longer dry periods

Do not aerate after a heavy downpour or during a rainy period, as the soil may silt up and become even more compacted.

Grabegabel zum Rasen lüften

During prolonged dry periods – such as those that occur in midsummer – this measure is also not recommended. Now, it would help the remaining moisture in the soil to escape even faster and you would have to water the lawn more frequently.

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To ensure that your lawn is soon resplendent in fresh green, the best way to proceed with the first spring maintenance between March and early May is as follows:

  • Mow the lawn: not too short, optimally four centimeters of grass length, do not mulch.
  • Scarify: with a rake, hand or electric scarifier, only on dry lawns
  • Aerating: with lawn aerator shoes, aerator fork (aerating fork or hand aerator), lawn aerator roller or electric aerator
  • Fertilizing and watering

When aerating, make sure the aeration holes are placed evenly and about ten inches deep.

Tip: There are combined devices on the market that allow scarifying and aerating with one device. Here, the blade attachment of the scarifier is replaced by the spiked aeration roller. These helpers are particularly practical on larger lawns.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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