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NaturaLawn® of America, Inc. The Leader In Organic-Based Lawn Care®

Core Aeration & Overseeding For A Healthy Lawn

Original Publication Date:

What is Core Aeration and Seeding?

Core aeration is the physical removal of soil cores from the lawn. These cores can be removed manually or by machine.

A core about 1-2 inches is removed thousands of times in the average homeowner's lawn. When seeding a lawn, to ensure the highest level of success when sowing new seed, double aerate the lawn in a crisscross pattern. By doing this, there will be twice as many holes for the seeds to fall into. The more holes, the thicker the lawn will be in the end.

Core aeration and seeding of a lawn is the best mechanical and cultural practice a homeowner can do to improve the overall quality and health of their lawn. Many of the benefits of lawn aeration and seeding include: 

  • Reduction in soil compaction, 
  • Increased oxygen uptake by the plant roots, 
  • Increased root development, 
  • Improved nutrient uptake, 
  • Improved plant ability to use water more effectively. 

This allows for the lawn to stand up to environmental and natural stresses such as heat, insects and diseases.

When the aeration cores are removed, they're deposited onto the surface. Within each soil core are millions of microbes. These microbes are hungry and begin to feed on the thatch and the surface debris thereby breaking them down. This plentiful food source is needed for these microbes to multiply. This increase in microbial activity helps to sustain a healthier lawn.

When seeding the lawn, it is important to apply the right amount of seeds based on the variety or blend being used. This information can be found on the seed label. For example, Tall Fescue is seeded at a rate of 5lbs. per 1000ft. Much like core aeration, it is best to apply the seed in a checkerboard or crisscross pattern. This will ensure enough seed will fall down into holes. Grass seed will not grow unless there is good contact with the soil.

The final step in seeding the lawn is to back drag with a metal mat. This mat is similar to what is used on a baseball field. This knocks the seed off the surface and into the holes. This provides good seed-to-soil contact. 

When Do I Aerate and Seed My Lawn?

The best time of year to aerate depends on what type of lawn grasses are growing. Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue, should be aerated and seeded in late summer through fall. Generally speaking, this will be from mid-August to mid-October. Warm-season grasses, such as Zoysias and Bermudas, should be aerated when they are more actively growing - usually early summer.

Should I Aerate My Lawn Before Seeding?

Aerating your lawn before seeding can be a beneficial step in the seeding process. When you aerate the soil, you create small holes that allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the root system, which can promote healthy growth and development of new grass seed.

Additionally, lawn aeration can help to alleviate soil compaction, which can make it easier for new grass roots to establish and grow. By creating small pockets in the soil, core aeration can also help to ensure that the new grass seed comes into contact with the soil and has a better chance of germinating.

If you decide to aerate your lawn before seeding, it's important to do so at the right time. Aerating when the soil is too wet can cause soil compaction, while aerating when the soil is too dry can damage the grass roots. Ideally, you should aerate your lawn when the soil is moist but not saturated.

It's also important to properly prepare the soil before seeding by removing any debris, weeds, or dead grass, and adding any necessary nutrients or amendments. Following proper watering and fertilization practices after seeding can also help to ensure healthy growth and development of new grass seed.

Will Core Aeration Level My Lawn?

Core aeration can certainly help to level out your lawn, but it is not a guaranteed solution. When you aerate your lawn, you create small holes in the soil that allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate deeply into the root system. This can help to alleviate compaction and improve the overall health of your lawn.

If your lawn is uneven due to bumps and hills, core aeration may help to smooth out some of the rough spots. By creating small pockets in the soil, aeration can help to redistribute soil and fill in low spots. However, if your lawn is extremely uneven, you may need to take additional steps, such as adding topsoil or regrading the area, to achieve a level surface.

It's important to note that core aeration is not a quick fix for an uneven lawn. It may take several treatments over a period of months or years to see significant improvement. Additionally, proper mowing, fertilization, and watering practices are also crucial for maintaining a healthy and level lawn.

By following these processes for core aeration and overseeding you too can have a healthy lawn that's environmentally friendly and uses fewer pesticides. For more information on aeration and overseeding, or for other helpful facts on lawn care, please contact us at 800-989-5444, or find a provider in your area.

Written by Sean Scott-Fagan — Regional Manager of NaturaLawn of America

Sean Scott-Fagan is a NaturaLawn of America Regional Manager. Sean has over 16 years of experience working in the NaturaLawn of America system with seven years of his time working directly in the field, treating, identifying/diagnosing, and helping homeowners receive the best results for their lawns. For eight years, Sean managed a branch location before becoming a Regional Manager at the Home Office Location.