10 Challenges of DIY Lawn Aeration

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While some lawn care activities are easy DIY projects – like mowing on Saturday morning – others are best left to the professionals. Lawn aeration is one of those.

At Green Drop, we hear a lot about the post-aeration pitfalls that DIYers experience before calling us, so we’re sharing the top 10 problems below. Plus, find out how our team of experienced problems GreenKeepers can help you maintain a beautiful, healthy-looking lawn you and your family love.

Aeration tool DIY
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1. No Access to the Right Equipment

Most homeowners don't own the type of specialized equipment that’s needed to aerate a lawn properly. A core aerator looks like a heavy-duty lawnmower and extracts plugs of soil completely, allowing air and water to reach the roots of your grass.

Manual aeration, either with a tool like the one pictured above or with spiked shoes, only serves to compact your soil further. Because nothing is removed from your lawn, manual aeration just pushes the grass, thatch, and dirt closer together even more.

2. Labour-Intensive

Aeration is a tough job and requires the ability to lift and push very heavy objects. Even though aerators and lawnmowers look similar, aerators weigh significantly more. The average aeration machine weighs hundreds of pounds, while residential push mowers are about 30 lbs. by comparison.

Moving an aerator across a lawn is highly labour-intensive, and many homeowners prefer to leave this job to professionals or have health conditions that prevent them from being able to operate heavy equipment.

3. Improper Understanding of Lawn and Soil Biology

Mushroom in grass
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Soil is a complex system of organic and inorganic matter that work together to provide nutrients and hydration to plant life. It plays a critical role in the Canadian biosphere, and it's important to know what you're doing when using fertilizers, pesticides, and other compounds that may impact the environment.

Lawn care specialists like the GreenKeepers at Green Drop are well-versed in soil biology. They can recommend a total lawn maintenance strategy that includes aeration and keeps your grass looking great.

4. Hidden Costs

Most homeowners who try DIY do so because they want to save money. Instead of paying for professional lawn care services, they assume they can cut costs by eliminating the need for outside labour. However, you may be unaware of the many hidden costs associated with aeration.

For example, if you rent an aerator, you likely want to opt for an insurance plan just in case anything happens to the equipment while it's in your possession. There's also the cost of fuel to run it. These extra expenses can add up, and unless you factor in every penny upfront, you could be in for an expensive surprise.

5. Safety Issues

Operating heavy equipment of any kind comes with safety risks that you can only do so much to mitigate. Even with the proper protective gear and knowledge of how to operate the machine, there's always a chance that you or someone nearby could get hurt.

When you allow the experts to do what they do best, the potential for injuries is much lower, and you can rest easy knowing that if anything does happen, the company you hire will take care of it.

6. Forgetting to Prep the Area

Another big mistake people make when aerating their own lawns is failing to adequately prepare their yard before starting the process. If your soil is too dry or there's too much debris (leaves, etc.) on your grass when you aerate, you likely won't get the same results as if you aerate when your lawn is in top shape.

You might also be unsure how to prepare your lawn for aeration properly, but when a professional steps in, they manage all of those issues for you, so you don't have to worry about doing it incorrectly.

7. Potential for Lawn Damage

brown patches on grass
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Unfortunately, aeration also has the potential to damage your lawn, especially if you're not experienced or good at manoeuvring the heavy aerator machine. You could tear large holes in your grass that need to be filled in, or you could compact your lawn and soil even more by pushing the aerator over soft areas.

A lawn specialist is much less likely to cause damage to your grass during the aeration process, and if it does happen, they usually know precisely how to fix it.

8. Not Knowing When to Aerate

It's also crucial to know when to aerate throughout the year. Aerating in the wrong season can cause more problems than it solves and if you overseed, new grass could be killed off before it has the chance to get rooted and grow.

Aeration is best done in the early fall, well before the winter season's first frost. You can also aerate in the spring after the last frost, depending on your lawn and the recommendation of your lawn care specialist.

9. Not Overseeding After Aerating

Post aeration is the perfect time to overseed your lawn, so Green Drop always follows our aeration service with overseeding to keep your grass looking lush and healthy. Without regular overseeding, your grass will naturally become thinner and even patchy or dry in spots as it moves through its natural lifecycle.

Adding new seeds once or twice a year prevents this from happening since the grass growth cycle essentially becomes indefinite. Aeration creates perfectly sized pockets for grass seed to fall into, so forgetting to follow up with extra seed is a missed opportunity that could lead to your lawn looking less than great later on.

10. Using the Wrong Lawn Treatments After Aerating

Your lawn is vulnerable after aeration and overseeding, so any compounds you apply next can potentially have an even more significant effect. Too much fertilizer at this stage can impact new grass seedlings, and not enough could put your lawn at risk in the winter when it needs extra nutrients to survive. A good lawn care specialist knows what to use—or not—after aeration to maximize results and prevent damage.

lawn treated by Green Drop

How Green Drop’s Experienced GreenKeepers Can Help

Our GreenKeepers have extensive knowledge of aeration, soil biology, and other critical aspects of lawn care. We can save you the time, cost, and hassle of trying to aerate your lawn yourself and potentially still making costly mistakes.

With our team taking excellent care of your grass, you can relax with confidence, knowing your soil will be healthy and your lawn will look great. And your house might just become the envy of the neighbourhood.

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