Aeration is a process which involves perforating the soil on your lawn with numerous small holes. These holes allow water and air to penetrate the roots of the grass. This means that nutrients can flow deeper into the soil, and be taken up by the grass.
The idea behind aerating a lawn is that it prevents soil compaction. If your soil is compacted, then water and nutrients cannot flow freely through the soil. In addition, lawn thatch and organic debris can build up in the soil and starve the roots of essential nutrients.
When to Get Your Lawn Aerated
If your lawn is used heavily, then it is a good idea to have it aerated. Children and pets running around on the soil can contribute to compaction, and periodic aeration can alleviate this issue.
You should also consider getting your lawn aerated if it was landscaped following the construction of a new home. It is common for home builders to strip or bury old lawns in the building process, and the new topsoil that they put in place once the construction is done could have been heavily compacted by the traffic of construction vehicles. In some cases, newly laid lawns can have a layering problem, with imported sod layered on top of coarser soil, creating a serious drainage problem.
One other sign that your lawn may need aerating is if it dries out easily, or if it feels a little spongy. These problems are both a sign that your lawn could have a thatch problem. To check whether this is the case, use a shovel to dig out a small slice of lawn, going about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is more than half an inch thick, then aerating your lawn could be beneficial.