The number one enemy of healthy lawns is compacted soil. Air gets compressed out of the top layer of soil by children's play, heavy rains, foot traffic, parked cars, mowing and construction equipment. It is vital that the soil be opened up so air can enter it. Core aeration can remedy soil compaction issues.
Core aeration extracts plugs of soil leaving holes which allow air into the soil. Eventually, these holes fill with moisture and organic matter. This provides the perfect environment for soil organisms to break down organic matter in the soil and provide nutrients for plants.
Aerate existing lawns in the spring or fall when temperatures are cool. This will avoid shocking the lawn. It's also a good idea to aerate a lawn before over seeding or putting in new sod. If aeration is completed before installing sod take caution in using a full weight roller on it to avoid soil compaction.
First, mow the lawn at a shorter than usual setting. Then water the grass to moisten the soil. See your local Southern States dealer to rent a power core aerator to aerate a medium to large sized lawn in one day. If a lawn is small, or the plan is to complete the job over several days, use a hand core aerator. (We've got those too.) Hand core aerators are great for aerating in between stepping stones or regular maintenance on areas that receive lots of foot traffic. If those areas are aerated regularly, it will keep bare spots from cropping up. For the most effective aeration, holes should be 3 to 4 inches deep and 4 inches apart. Leave the soil plugs lying on the lawn. They will gradually dissolve in the rain providing nutrients to the grass or they can be raked and broken up to speed decomposition. This will also help to distribute the soil evenly over the lawn.