5 Common Mistakes People Make When Aerating Their Lawns

Written by Baylee Bunce
Updated: October 20, 2023
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Lawn aeration is vital to lawn maintenance and is where special equipment removes tiny soil cores from the turf. Aerating your lawn allows for the lawn to breathe a little better after time or heavy use from play, sports, or vehicle traffic. Literally, aerating a grass lawn lessens soil compaction to let oxygen and water reach the roots better. However, many people make mistakes when aerating their lawns. These common aeration mistakes can lessen the beneficial impact of the treatment.

1. Aerating During the Wrong Season

A snowy scene on a winter day in Surrey with frost on the ground.

Aeration during the winter is not recommended because of the wrong temperature and working conditions.

© Cristian Bortes from Cluj-Napoca, Romania / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

Aeration works best at certain times during the year. If you aerate your lawn outside a specific seasonal timeframe, you might have poor results. Try to plan for lawn aeration during the spring or fall, depending on your type of grass.

A common aeration mistake is to aerate warm-season lawns in the fall. Warm-season lawns are best aerated during late spring or early summer. Meanwhile, cool-season lawns do best after aeration in the autumn.

2. Aerating During Dry Conditions

Dead grass of the nature background. a patch is caused by the destruction of fungus. Rhizoctonia Solani grass leaf change from green to dead brown in a circle lawn texture background dead dry grass.

Dry conditions make it more challenging to aerate a lawn successfully because the machine cannot penetrate the soil.


Even during the spring or fall, you should pay attention to weather patterns when planning to aerate your lawn. Aeration works best during moist conditions. If you are preparing to aerate your property, water it a day or two before unless rain is forecast.

However, you want the soil to be dry so that you and your equipment do not sink into it! You want the tines on the equipment to be able to quickly sink in and pull out a plug but not create a muddy mess.

3. Not Using the Right Aeration Equipment

Man using gas powered aerating machine to aerate residential grass yard. Groundskeeper using lawn aeration equipment for turf maintenance.

You should know what equipment you need, such as whether gas-powered or manual is better.

©The Toidi/Shutterstock.com

If you do not have the right equipment for aeration, it is time to get it. A common lawn aeration mistake is aerating without your gear ready to go. If you attempt aeration with only some of the tools or similar tools, you will not have the results you want to end up with. The Maryland Cooperative Extension of the University of Maryland suggests using an aerator that pulls the plug out of the soil and not one that only punches holes in the yard. If you decide not to use the recommended equipment, you might not have the results you hope to get after the aeration treatment.

4. Not Doing Proper Research Before Aerating

Pile of plugs of soil removed from sports field. Waste of core aeration technique used in the upkeep of lawns and turf

Research the type of grass in your lawn plus other vital details before aeration.


In the same vein as having the right equipment, you must do proper research. A common aeration mistake is to jump in without understanding what your lawn needs or how to accomplish aeration. Different types of grasses may require special considerations, or you might need to choose a specific type of equipment. For example, the Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia Tech recommends using an aeration machine with deep tines and weight placed over the tines to ensure penetration into hard soils. After thorough research, you can determine the best time and best approach to lawn aeration.

5. Mowing Too Soon After Aeration

A young man is mowing a lawn with a lawn mower in his beautiful green floral summer garden. A professional gardener with a lawnmower cares for the grass in the backyard.

Many people do not wait to mow their yard after an aeration, but you can easily avoid this common aerating mistake.


Do not get too eager after completing an aeration. Give your lawn a little time to rest before you mow it again. The lawn will have plugs of soil all over it after an aeration. A common aeration mistake is breaking those plugs up too quickly by mowing. Give the plugs a day or two to dry before mowing over them to break them up. These soil plugs provide excellent nutrients to the surface of the grass and fall down lightly into the holes left behind by the aerator machine.

NumberCommon Aeration MistakeWhy You Should Avoid
#1Aerating During the Wrong SeasonIf it is too warm, you can harm your soil; if it is too cold, you cannot penetrate it.
#2Aerating During Dry ConditionsAeration machines cannot penetrate dry, hard soil.
#3Not Using the Right Aeration EquipmentYou can harm your grass if you do not prepare the right equipment. Or you might not have the best results.
#4Not Doing Proper Research Before AeratingResearch what type of grass you have so you know how and when to aerate your lawn correctly.
#5Mowing Too Soon After AerationYou want the soil plugs to dry before mowing and breaking them up.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © The Toidi/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Baylee Bunce is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering cats, gardening, travel, and geography. Baylee has been writing and researching about animals for 3 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology from Purdue University, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Indiana, Baylee enjoys working in her backyard garden and spending time with her cats, Stormi and Lady.

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