Aerating your soil allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots so they can grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn. Too much lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from essential elements.
You can use a border fork or hollow tiner to pull out plugs of soil. Work across your lawn at 4-inch intervals. Aeration is recommended every two years for high traffic lawns. There are two main aerating tools — a spike aerator and a plug aerator. With a spike aerator, you poke holes into the ground with a solid tine or fork. Plug aerators remove a core or plug of grass and soil from the lawn.
For best results, use an aerating tool or machine that actually removes plugs of soil. You can also consider renting an aerating tool or machine that removes soil plugs approximately 2-3 inches deep and about 2-3 inches apart.
Follow aeration with over-seeding thin areas and top-dressing with compost. Ask your local nursery for grass seed blends adapted to your area. Then “top-dress” by raking in ¼ to ½ inch of compost to cover the seed and improve the soil.
Use “natural organic” or “slow release” fertilizers to fertilize your lawn, because they are less likely to wash off into ground water and will last longer.
For more information visit Snohomish County’s Natural Yard Care website https://snohomishcountywa.gov/1097/Natural-Yard-Care.