Learning how and when to aerate and overseed your lawn is critical to a beautiful lawn that makes your neighbors jealous. Remember: you reap what you sow. And the window for sowing the perfect lawn isn’t open year-round.
Today we are going to walk through the difference between aerating and overseeding, when is the best time aerate and overseed, and give you some insight on how we get this done each year.
- Aerating vs. Overseeding
- When to aerate and overseed your lawn
- How to aerate and overseed on your own
- Common questions
Let’s get started!
Why we started this site
We started The Lawn Review out of frustration. We couldn’t find clarity around what type of products were actually good and reliable. All the fertilizers we tried didn’t work. We ended up with a dying lawn, wasted time, and wasted money.
So we started buying and reviewing lawn tools and figuring out which ones were the best. And now we’ve moved onto actually keeping that grass nice and healthy all year around.
We’ve spent thousands of hours building this content for people just like you and me – normal people.
Aerating vs Overseeding
Aeration consists of perforating soil with small holes, allowing nutrients and water to seep inside and reach the roots of the grass. This technique promotes healthy and nourished grass, leaving your lawn green and lush. If you don’t aerate your lawn, the soil can become compact, which can deprive the grass of the key nutrients it needs to flourish. Grass that isn’t aerated is particularly susceptible to the elements (extreme heat and drought, for example).
You can decipher whether your lawn needs aeration by examining the soil. If the soil is hard or has a spongy texture, it’s time to aerate. Thin grass losing color is another telltale sign that you need to aerate your lawn.
Overseeding generally accompanies aeration. You add grass seeds across the entire yard when you overseed your lawn. The goal of overseeding is to regrow grass in areas where it is damaged or thinning. Now you may wonder, “do I have to aerate my lawn before I overseed it?”
The answer is yes; it’s best to aerate your lawn before overseeding because aeration helps the soil absorb nutrients and gives it fresh, overturned soil to thrive in. Aerating after overseeding can be massively disrupt to new seedlings.
The Best time to Aerate and Overseed
If you have cool season or transitional grass, the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn is the early fall. During the early fall, the temperature is cooler while the soil is still warm. This combination allows your lawn to recover quickly and see the most benefit from the aeration and overseeding. Cool season grass truly thrives during the fall months and gives your seeds the best chance of survival.
If you have warm season grass, early-to-mid spring is the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn. Warm season grasses thrive in the summer so you want to give them time to germinate. This allows a root system to begin to form and for the grass to start living it up when the warmer temperatures arrive.
If you are noticing your grass starting to have brown tips, check out our guide on how to sharpen your mower blades.
Do-It-Yourself Lawn Aeration
While lawn aeration is typically a job left to the professionals, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can take lawn aeration into your own hands (literally). But before you hit the ground running, you should understand the cost of DIY aeration techniques and the effort required.
Our process is typically:
- Scalp your lawn – cutting it very short allows for the best preparation for overseeding and will allow more soil to be dug up through the aeration process. Make sure to bag the clippings to not choke your yard.
- Use a dethatcher to dig up all the dead grass off of the surface of your yard. Dethatchers and aerators are different, but compliment each other very well.
- Rent a gas-powered aerator from Home Depot. It helps to go in with a few neighbors to rent one and split the cost. There are also lawn tractor pull-behind aerators that work really well, too.
- Use the aerator to go over every square inch of your yard, pulling up old
One of the most popular DIY dethatcher products is the Sun Joe Dethatcher. This electric aerator and dethatcher is extremely satisfying and works wonders despite looking kind of dinky.
If you’re looking for a great workout and to be made fun of by your neighbors, you can also aerate your lawn with DenForste Lawn Aerator shoes, also available on Amazon. I’ll preface by saying you’re in store for a serious workout if you use these shoes. I definitely don’t recommend using them for a larger yard and suggest aerating when the temperature drops in the evening. On a positive note, the shoes have a solid aluminum base and spikes that won’t bend. And while the idea of aerator shoes sounds far-fetched, Amazon reviewers seem to dig these shoes.
Want to learn more about the difference between an aerator, dethatcher, and scarifier? Check out my guide that explains the difference between the three and how to use them.
Do-it-yourself overseeding is a lot easier than aeration. But remember, depending on the soil quality, you may need to dethatch or aerate your lawn first.
Once your lawn is ready-to-go, I recommend getting your hands on a Scotts Turf Builder Broadcast spreader. This handy device makes it mind-blowingly easy to overseed your yard and holds up to 15,000 square feet of product.
You can also use a handheld spreader if you have a smaller yard or only need to overseed a few concentrated areas of grass.
We recommend using Anderson’s seed for your lawn based on personal experience. Scotts has some good cheap stuff, but we’ve found it typically is contaminated with random grasses or weeds (and it says so on the bag)
Frequently Asked Questions about Aerating and Overseeding
Everyone has some natural curiosity about aeration and overseeding. If you’re eager to know more about the ins and outs of this all-important lawn care technique, take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions below.
How Much Does It Cost to Aerate Your Lawn?
You can expect to shell out anywhere from $150 to $230 to aerate your lawn, depending on where you live and the size of your property. If you’d like a more precise cost estimate, multiply every thousand square feet of lawn by $17. For example, if your yard measures 5,000 square feet, you will pay around $85 to aerate your lawn (5 x 17).
How Much Does It Cost to Overseed Your Lawn?
The cost of overseeding is about double the cost of aeration alone. In other words, a lawn care company that charges $150 to aerate a yard will charge $300 to aerate and overseed it. If you’re lucky, they may also throw in some fertilizer.
Can You Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn by Yourself?
Yes, you can aerate your lawn by yourself using an at-home aerator or aerator shoes. However, these methods are much more labor intensive and may not be as effective as hiring a professional to do the job.
How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?
Most lawn care professionals recommend aerating your yard annually. However, some people can get away with doing it once every two or three years if they have sandy soil and healthy grass.
Lawn Aeration and Overseeding: A Final Glance
Aeration and overseeding help your lawn absorb healthy nutrients and regrow in areas that are thinning or damaged. Aeration costs between $150 to $230, while aeration and overseeding together double the price of aeration alone. The general rule of thumb is to aerate and overseed your lawn once per year. The best time to aerate and overseed your yard is the early fall because the temperature is starting to cool, but the soil is still warm.
Rest assured, lawn aeration and overseeding may seem slightly inconvenient, especially if you attempt to do it on your own. Nevertheless, the pros of aeration and overseeding far outweigh the cost involved. You’ll have vibrant and evenly-distributed grass that boosts your home’s curb appeal and makes the lawn much easier on the eyes.