important step for summerIt’s Memorial Day Weekend and the summer is officially kicking off. One of the most important lawncare practices Clean Air Lawn Care Boise recommends this time of year (and in the fall) is aeration. Both mechanical and chemical aeration improve soil health and promote a lush, green lawn for your property each summer. It’s tempting to skip this step but the benefits make it worth the extra investment.

Aeration benefits the lawn by allowing air, water and nutrients to pass through the soil easier. With better drainage and the ability for air to penetrate the soil, the roots are allowed to “breathe,” giving them the space to grow and seek out the beneficial inputs provided by the organic fertilizers. Roots do not become bound up and choked off.

There are two ways to achieve aeration – by mechanical or chemical means to create space within the soil.





Mechanical Aeration

Mechanical aeration involves physically perforating the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots.

Common Methods:

  • Core Aerators: Also called hollow tine aerators, they remove plugs of soil from the lawn to create holes that improve air, water and nutrient movement.
  • Spike Aerators: Use spikes or tines to puncture the soil without removing any soil plugs. Typically, this is not the preferred method for a lawn as it can contribute to more compaction. It is a practice mostly reserved for sandy soils, like the greens on a golf course.

 Using an aerator provides immediate impact by alleviating soil compaction, which can restrict root growth and water infiltration. It also can reduce thatch buildup by allowing more air to penetrate and assist the decomposition of organic matter. That negates the need for dethatching a lawn, which can prove more costly and does more damage to the existing turf.

When choosing mechanical aeration, the timing is important for best results.

Warm season grasses like zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine and centipede respond best to a late spring to early summer aeration. Those grasses spread through rhizomes instead of seed, so aeration when the grass is out of dormancy allows it to repair itself and fill in the new spaces created.

Cool season grasses like fescue and Kentucky blue grass are better served by aeration in the fall, coupled with overseeding. The displaced soil gives more room for seed to find purchase and begin germination. The plugs break down quickly and work to turn over the soil without having to till the entire lawn.

The disadvantage of the mechanical approach is the costs involved in equipment and labor. There’s the added risk of puncturing an irrigation system or invisible fence. Additionally, there are certain areas the aerator may not be able to reach because of space or incline.

Those lend themselves to times when chemical aeration is preferred.

Chemical Aeration

Chemical aeration involves applying either organic compounds or other chemicals that break down compacted soil, increasing its porosity and enhancing root growth. As always, Clean Air Lawn Care Boise recommends the organic approach to chemical processes, vs. using potentially toxic chemicals.

Common Methods:

  • Organic Compounds: Gypsum is a natural mineral that helps to break up compacted clay soils by displacing sodium ions, which improves soil structure and drainage. It effectively creates channels within your soil structure similar to mechanical aeration. Humic acid and fulvic acid, both of which appear in the Clean Air Lawn Care soil builder, are derived from decomposed organic matter and further improve soil structure. They increase microbial activity, and enhance nutrient uptake by plants.
  • Chemicals: Products like ammonium lauryl sulfate help to break down soil compaction by reducing the surface tension of water, allowing it to penetrate more deeply. Polyacrylamides are polymers improve soil structure by binding soil particles together, reducing compaction and enhancing water infiltration. Be wary of using chemicals that may contain toxic impurities and leave a harmful residue on your lawn.
  • Other Organic Options: Vermicomposting is the addition of earthworms, which tunnel and create more natural pathways for water and nutrients to flow. There are also products like biochar or compost top dressing, which further enhance the soil structure and compliment aeration practices.

The ability to reach all areas of the lawn give chemical aeration  the upper hand over mechanical aeration in many cases but it may not be as thorough as mechanical aeration.

Ideally, the lawn is getting both mechanical and chemical (organic-based of course) aeration.

A yearly aeration, properly timed for the type of grass, will provide better long-term results. The organic aeration applications like humic acid, biochar or compost top dressing, compliment all the organic fertilizer inputs. They promote healthy soil and create a breeding ground for microbial biodiversity. Now is the time to schedule your summer aeration if you did not already take this step for spring. Or you could begin planning now, for your fall aeration services.

Clean Air Lawn Care Boise is ready to assist to better serve you and your lawn. We wish every household a happy Memorial Day, especially those this weekend who recognize family who have served this country. We thank you for your sacrifice and your service.


Clean Air Lawn Care HQ’s blog is written by Craig Martin, one of Clean Air’s many franchise owners. Prior to becoming an owner, Craig spent more than 15 years as a sports writer for multiple newspapers, and he reported on prep, NCAA and professional sports. Each week he will be sharing thoughts, ideas and industry insights on how Clean Air Lawn Care helps foster an organic and sustainable lawn for you and your family to enjoy.