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A regular fertilization program is important to maintain healthy, attractive turf. A fertilizer grade or analysis is the percentages of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in the fertilizer. You should choose a fertilizer for the total amount of nutrients in the container and the nitrogen source. It is usually wise to get a soil test to determine the needs of your lawn, and this will give you recommendations on the grade of fertilizer and amount needed to meet the needs of your lawn.

N-P-K Ratio for Lawns

Georgia law requires that fertilizer producers display the guaranteed grade or analysis on the fertilizer containers. The grade or analysis of fertilizer is the percentage of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium). If fertilizer is 16-4-8, for example, this means:

  • 16 (the first number) represents the percentage of Nitrogen (16%)
  • 4 (the second number) represents the percentage of Phosphorus (4%)
  • 8 (the third number) represents the percentage of Potassium (8%)

To figure the ratio, take the smallest number in the grade and divide it into each number of the grade.

*Example:  Fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio is 12-4-8.

To figure the ratio example above:  4 is the smallest number in a 12-4-8 grade, and it can be divided into 12 three times, and into 8 two times for a 3-1-2 ratio. 12-4-8 = 3-1-2.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Keep in mind that all lawns need nutrients/fertilizer during the growing season. Scientists recommend that you apply one pound of nitrogen to a thousand square feet of Bermuda grass monthly (or according to directions for your type of grass) during the growing season, for example. Remember the formula above to determine the actual nitrogen in your fertilizer. Also, remember that there is only a percentage of the materials in your fertilizer that are actual nutrients (hence the percentages). The other material in your bag of fertilizer is called filler or carrier.

Recommendations for fertilizer are based on the type of grass. There is not much difference in brands of fertilizer if you follow the directions on the label as directed. It’s more important to put the right nutrients on your lawn – no need to worry about name brands.

Choosing Fertilizer with Needed Nutrients

The big picture of lawns is that they all need nutrients during their growing season. It is important to know what the nutrients in your fertilizer do for your lawn. If you choose a fertilizer that is 29-3-4:   29% of it is Nitrogen, 3% of it is Phosphorous, and 4% of it is Potassium. 

  • Nitrogen helps build thick green lawns
  • Phosphorous helps promote strong vigorous root systems
  • Potassium helps to increase resistance to disease and drought

Since scientists recommend one pound of nitrogen be applied to 1,000 square feet of lawn, for example, you will have to apply less fertilizer with the fertilizer above (29-3-4) than one with a lesser percentage of nitrogen (example: 10-10-10).

Nitrogen Source

Nitrogen materials can be divided into two groups:   quickly available and/or slowly available.

Quickly Available
Also referred to as water-soluble
Immediately available to plants – provided there is adequate moisture usually less expensive cause growth flushedHave short soil residualHave high burn potential
Slowly Available
Also referred to as water insoluble or controlled release
Materials release nitrogen more gradually over long periods of time usually more expensive requires fewer applications reduce losses to teaching have low burn potential high-quality slow-release fertilizer should contain at least 30% of the nitrogen in the fertilizer in a slow-release form

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to different types of fertilizer. You will need to determine which is best for your lawn and works best for you.


Fertilization of the lawn is important to keep it healthy, green, and beautiful. Following guidelines for your lawn and the type of grass you have will help give you the best results. A soil sample can give you the number of nutrients needed by your lawn. If you are unable to find a fertilizer with the exact specifications in your soil sample, you can select one that is closest to it. The type of fertilizer (granular or liquid, or quickly available / slowly available) can be a personal preference or based on the needs of your lawn. You want to add a fertilizer that has all the needed nutrients (N-P-K), but nitrogen is very important for that thick, lush lawn you want. If all of this is too complicated and you need guidance or help, contact Pride In Turf. They can advise you – or take the work off your hands. This will assure you of excellent results every time.

Pride-In-Turf is a local Atlanta lawn fertilizer company. Here are some pros and cons of both liquid and granular fertilizers. Hopefully, this helps you determine a choice for what best suits your lawn.

When trying to determine whether to purchase a liquid or granular fertilizer, there are many factors to consider.  There are no real hard and fast rules on this, and you can make your decision based on personal preference.  Some prefer to use a combination of both.  There are certain conditions where it may be best to use one over the other, depending on the needs of your lawn and what works best for you.  Some information about both liquid and granular fertilizers is included in this article to help you determine what works best for you.  Whichever type of fertilizer you choose, remember that they all should have the required nutrients ( N-P-K).

Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid formulations of fertilizer are diluted with water and sprayed on lawns.  A good time to spray liquid fertilizer on your lawn is after a good rain.  A gallon of liquid fertilizer that is mixed with water can cover a large area.  So, even though it is typically more expensive than granular fertilizer, it can be a better value.  You can use your liquid fertilizer on your lawn as well as plants.  Liquid fertilizers are quickly absorbed into the soil, which makes it easier for the nutrients to reach the roots.  The liquid does not last as long as granular fertilizers, however, and needs to be applied more often.  Typically, it should be applied every 2 – 3 weeks, but the coverage is more consistent.

Granular Fertilizer

Granular fertilizers are applied with a drop or rotary spreader.  It is best to divide the amount needed into two parts and apply it in two directions for a more uniform distribution.  Apply the fertilizer in one direction, then apply the other half in the other direction (at right angles from each other).  Granular fertilizers are on small, solid particles.  These dry organic granules are applied directly on the lawn.  Using granular fertilizer is easier to use when you want to spread it and forget it.  It also does not need to be applied as often as granular, as it lasts 4 – 6 weeks.

Is it Okay to Use Both Liquid and Granular Fertilizer?

Some people prefer to use both types of fertilizers.  If you decide to use both, you should use 50% of each type of fertilizer.  If you use both liquid and granular types of fertilizers, you will get excellent coverage on your lawn.  If you are using a preemergence fertilizer in the early Spring, it needs to be wet into the soil.  Using liquid fertilizer will provide this.  If you decide to use half the formula of liquid to get a jump start on your lawn, then add half the amount of granular on top, it will last longer and give that good coverage you want.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Liquid vs Granular Fertilizer

Below is a table of the advantages and disadvantages of both types of fertilizer.  Hope this helps you make the best determination for your lawn.

Liquid FertilizerGranular Fertilizer
Plants absorb nutrients immediatelyTypically more expensiveSlow-release formulas last longer.  Does not have to be spread as often.Nutrients are not uniform since each pellet has different nutrients (N, P, or K)
Quick-release – does not sit on soil for long period of timeHas to be added more frequentlyUsually not as expensiveTakes longer for plants to absorb nutrients
Same formulation of nutrients in every drop


You can base which type of fertilizer you use on the needs of your lawn – or use which works best for you.  Remember that the timing of getting fertilizers on your lawn is important, as well as the type of grass you have.  Some of the factors above can help you determine which is best, or you can use a combination of both types of fertilizers.  If you are uncertain or do not have the time to do this, it is always a good idea to contact Pride-In-Turf.  They are a professional lawn care service and can determine exactly what your lawn needs.  You can be assured of a quality job that will give you the beautiful lawn you want.

How do I get a beautiful lawn? We get asked this a lot at Pride-In-Turf, and everyone wants a beautiful lawn that is green and thick. This is not an easy task and takes a lot of work. The types of grass, nutrients, and the right conditions to thrive are all important aspects of achieving this goal. Where you live is a factor, as different climates dictate the care needed. The types of grass that will work best, the fertilization your lawn will need, mowing at the right height, aeration, and water are all important for your beautiful, green, and thick lawn.  

Identify Your Grass

Make sure you know the turfgrass types that make up your lawn, especially if you inherited a lawn without knowing what type of grass you have. Different grass types require different care, so this is important to know how to support your grass for a beautiful, thick lawn. Georgia has a warm climate, and you will typically see Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, or Zoysia grass. More and more recently, St. Augustine and Centipede are being used. These types of grasses require different care. If you are unsure which type you have in your lawn, you can contact a local UGA Extension agent.

Care for your Lawn

There are many steps to a beautiful green lawn. The following list gives you most of the steps you need to take, depending on the type of grass and the climate where you live. They are all important, but not necessarily in the order, they need to be done.

  • Start with improving your soil. You may need to test your soil (or have it tested) to find out the pH of your soil. Apply lime if the soil is too acidic or rich compost or sphagnum peat moss if it is too alkaline. You will want a pH of 5.5 – 6.5. You will need to fertilize every 4 – 6 weeks during the growing season.
  • Aerate your lawn at the appropriate time. Areas, such as Georgia, have clay soils. This type of soil needs aeration every year, as it is quick to get very compacted. Aeration helps loosen the soil letting in food, water, air, and nutrients that nourish your grass. It also provides better conditions for grass to develop a strong, healthy root system.
  • De-Thatch your lawn. Dethatching removes dead, organic matter that creates a thick, spongy layer. This allows water and nutrients to reach the soil and Improve airflow. This helps promote thick growth.
  • Fertilize your lawn. After aerating and dethatching (if needed), fertilize your lawn. This should be done right after you have completed aeration (and dethatching if needed) so that fertilizer can get down into the soil.
  • Overseed your lawn (or seed if you are starting a new lawn). This is when the seed can make good soil contact and achieve the highest germination rate.
  • Water your Lawn. If you are seeding your lawn, it is important to keep the soil moist for the best germination results. Watering daily, or more than once daily if needed) is important at this time. After about two weeks, when germination has taken place, you can cut back to once or twice per week.
  • Mow your lawn. Keeping your lawn mowed at the proper level for the type of grass you have is important. If you have seeded or overseeded, you should wait 2 – 3 weeks before mowing. Do not cut the grass more than 1/3 of the grass height to avoid stressing or weakening the grass.
  • Protect your lawn against pests. Balancing the moisture and thickness of your grass while avoiding over-watering will help in this area. Ensure proper drainage in your lawn so you do not have standing water. Treat with insecticides or fertilizer with insecticides in it as needed.
  • Manage weeds. If you do all of the above, this will discourage a weed invasion on your lawn. Some weeds thrive in certain types of soil (heavy in clay, highly acidic, or highly alkaline).  

If you are unsure of any of these steps, you can contact your local extension agent for advice. You may want to contact a professional landscaper who can guarantee you a beautiful lawn, such as Pride-In-Turf.

Timing is Important

Proper timing of lawn maintenance is key to establishing and maintaining a beautiful lawn. The table below gives you the best or optimal time to perform maintenance tasks for the best results: 

Type of GrassAerationFertilizationDethatchOverseedingWeed ControlMowing HeightWater
CentipedeB – May – July P – April
Use core aerator during the active growing season
B -May and July P – June and AugustP – May - JulyNot recommended
Spring pre-emergence:   B – Feb-March;  P-  April.
Broadleaf post-emergence: OK any time.
Grassy weed postemergence: B - May-August P – September
Winter pre-emergence: B – September P - October 
1 – 2 inches; Raise ½ inch higher in hot weather1 inch per week if no rainfall.
30 days of watering allowed for newly planted sod or seed.
Sod laid in the Fall or Winter months should be kept moist
St. AugustineB – May – July P – April or August
Use a core aerator during the active growing season
B – May-AugustP – May-AugustNoneCannot be established from seedSpring pre-emergence: B – Feb. – March; P – April
Broadleaf pre-emergence: Any time but March/April
Grassy weed postemergence: N/A
Winter pre-emergence: B – September; P - October
2 – 3 inches.Raise ½ inch higher when hot
Remove no more than 1/3 of total height at one time
1 inch per week if no rainfall.30 days watering for newly planted sod or seed.
Sod laid in Fall or Winter should be kept moist
BermudaB – May-August P – April or September
Use a core aerator during the active growing season
B – May-August P – April or SeptemberB – June/ July P – May / AugustB – May-August P – April or AugustSpring pre-emergence: B – Feb/March; P – April
Broadleaf preemergence: Spot spray any time of year
Grassy weed preemergence: B – May-August; P – September
Winter pre-emergence: B – September P - October
1 – 2 inches
Higher in hot weather
Remove no more than 1/3 of total height at one time
1 inch per week if no rainfall
30 days of watering allowed for newly planted sod or seed
Sod laid in the Fall or Winter months should be kept moist
ZoysiaB – May August P – April or September
Use a core aerator during the active growing season
B – May-August P – April or SeptemberB – June / July P – May or AugustNot recommended
Spring pre-emergence: B – Feb / MarchP – April
Broadleaf postemergence: Spray any time
Grassy weed postemergence: B – May-August P – September
Winter pre-emergence: B – September P - October
1 inch per week if no rainfall.
30 days of watering allowed for newly planted sod or seed.
Sod laid in Fall or Winter should be kept moist
1 – 2 inches
Mow ½ inch higher in hot weather.
Remove no more than 1/3 of total height at one time

Note:  This information pertains to Georgia, though it may apply to other areas with similar climates. It includes the Best (B) times/months as well as Possible (P) times/months.


This is a lot of information and may be somewhat overwhelming. Keeping a beautiful lawn is a large task. It is very rewarding for those who have the time and enjoys working outside on their lawn The type of grass and the climate are very important for the care needed to achieve the results you want You can always contact your local extension agent for advice or soil samples To save time and have the assurance of excellent results, contact Pride-In-Turf They can get you the results you want and save you time and money.

Everyone enjoys a beautiful lawn.  Aerating your lawn at the appropriate times along with overseeding and fertilizing can help you achieve the beautiful lawn you want.  Aerating your lawn can be done in the Spring; however, it depends on several factors to choose the best time for the best results.  Whether or not to aerate your lawn in the Spring depends on the climate in your area, soil conditions, and the type of grass you are using in your lawn.  Aerating at the best time is important.

When to Aerate in the Spring

For many areas, Fall or early Fall is the best time to aerate your lawn.  There are times when it is best to aerate in the Spring as well. If your lawn has become compacted and the grass is not growing well, early Spring may be a good time to aerate.  It is best to aerate between March and May, making sure you have waited until the last frost of the season.  You need to aerate before the Spring weeds start to germinate if at all possible for the best control of weeds.  You do not want to aerate during the heat of summer.  

To aerate in the Spring, you need to be able to know or estimate the soil temperature.  Here are the main points to consider:

  • Ground temperature should be at least 50 degrees
  • Air temperature should have been at least 59 degrees for two weeks.  This will give more assurance that the soil temperatures are at 50 degrees

Keep in mind that overseeding goes hand in hand with aerating, so the type of grass you are using is also a consideration.

What Temperature is Good for Overseeding

Again, this depends on the type of grass you are using as well as the climate.  In warmer climates, such as Georgia, you can aerate and overseed as late as June, depending on the type of grass you are using.  Grasses such as Bermuda or Zoysia are types of grass that can be seeded in Spring or early summer.

The following table may help in determining when to aerate your lawn and overseed, depending on your climate and the type of grass you use:

Type of GrassRegion / ClimateWhen to Aerate / Overseed
BermudaSoutheast Region / Warm and humid Southwest Region / high temperatures – needs more watering due to dry climateSpring – March-May After frost and when temperatures are consistently 59 degrees 
CentipedeSouth / Gulf Coast Region / Hot  and humid Early Spring / After frost and when temperatures are 59 degrees
BahiagrassSouth / Gulf Coast Region / Hot and HumidEarly Spring – when temperatures consistently above 55 degrees
ZoysiaSouthern / Transition Zones/ Cool Season (some types are more heat tolerant)Early Fall – Soil temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees 
FescueNortheast / Transition Zone/ Cool season (some are more heat tolerant)Early Fall – Soil temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees

This chart is not all-inclusive of types of grass and regions but should give you an idea of differences depending on the type of climate and which grass is best for your area.


As you can see, it is okay to aerate your lawn in the Spring – especially if you live in a warmer climate and uses grass suitable for that climate.  In some areas, it is actually the best time to aerate.  Aeration and overseeding go hand in hand, so be sure to overseed your lawn at the same time.  Of course, you should also fertilize your lawn at the time of aeration and keep it watered so the ground is moist until the seeds germinate.  Then, as the growing season gets into full gear, your lawn should start to revitalize and look beautiful.

A lot of time can go into going through the whole process.  If you do not have the time or are unsure of what to do, it is best to contact a professional for the best results.  Pride-In-Turf will get you the absolute best results and save you a lot of time.  Often, you can end up saving money by hiring a professional, such as Pride-In-Turf as well.

Should you water after aerating your lawn?  The answer to that is YES.  However, there are other things you need to do after aerating first.  Actually, after you have followed all the steps which will be discussed in this article, you definitely need to water the lawn.  For the first 2 – 3 weeks after aerating, your lawn should be watered daily – or maybe more than once daily if needed.  This is a critical growth phase for your new grass, and you want to hydrate the roots for optimal development.  Once the seeds germinate and the grass is sprouting, you can go back to watering as usual ( 2 – 3 times per week or as needed, depending on rain and the moisture level of the soil).

What to Do After Aerating Your Lawn

After aerating your lawn, it does not look pretty.  Don’t worry – this is the first good step to a greener, more beautiful lawn.  The following are some tips on what to do after aerating:

  1.  Leave the soil plugs on your lawn to decompose and filter back into the holes left by aerating
  2. Apply fertilizer immediately after aerating (or as soon as possible – definitely within or before 48 hours).  This puts nutrients into the grassroots.
  3. Reseed the lawn, especially where the grass is thin.
  4. Then – WATER.  As stated above, you should water daily (or more than once daily) but not too long at one time.  You do not want to soak the lawn at this point, but you do want to keep it moist.
  5. It is best not to walk on the lawn any more than absolutely necessary.  Walking on the lawn after aerating will compact the soil and make it more difficult for the seeds to get the nutrients and water they need to germinate.

Should You Mow After Aerating

You should not mow your lawn after aerating until your new grass finishes germinating.  It is actually best to wait until the new grass is between three or four inches tall.  This is difficult, but it is best to give that new grass a good start before mowing.  Mow your lawn prior to aerating if at all possible, because it will be a while before you can mow again.  

What to Expect After Aerating

After following the procedures stated above after aerating your lawn, the following is what you can expect:

  • Immediately:  You will have less compacted soil and will have broken up your thatch
  • Two Weeks:  By about 2 weeks, the plugs you removed while aerating should finish breaking down
  • Two to Four Weeks:  Depending on the type of grass you have, this is when germination takes place
  • Seven to Ten Weeks:  Now your grass should have deeper, more extensive root systems.  It should grow fuller, giving your lawn fewer thin spots 


Aeration is quite a process, and many other tasks need to be done to get the results you want.  It takes time and patience.  Remember, that your yard will not be pretty when this process is in the early stages.  However, if all is done correctly, you will end up with a green, lush lawn that will give you much enjoyment.

If this process seems overwhelming, and you are worried about timing things right or using the right products, consider hiring a lawn care expert.  Pride In Turf has professionals who can take care of your needs and get you the gorgeous lawn you want.

How often you aerate your lawn can depend on many factors, especially the soil in your area.  In areas like Georgia, the soil contains a lot of clay.  This type of soil becomes easily compacted due to small pores and can seem like it is made of bricks after a long, hot summer. When pores are notoriously small, the soil cannot get the nourishment it needs – even with proper water and fertilization. Yards with high-traffic areas also can become compacted more quickly due to the foot traffic.  In these situations, the soil needs to be loosened while avoiding extreme damage to the lawn.  This means you need to aerate your lawn.

How to Know if Your Lawn Needs Aeration

Many people aerate every year, once per year, and that works well for most.  If you are not sure, here is a tip on how to determine if your lawn needs aerating:

  • Wait 5 days after a rain
  • Poke a Phillips head screwdriver into the soil
  • If the screwdriver easily penetrates only one inch into the soil – it’s time to aerate!

When is the Best Time To Aerate Your Lawn

The best time to aerate your lawn is just before the grass begins to grow rapidly.  When your grass is in its peak growing period, it can recover more quickly after aerating.  So, consider times when your grass has the most growth. This will vary, depending on the type of grass and the climate in your area.  

The following table is a quick guide to help determine when to aerate, depending on the type of grass you have in your lawn:

Type of GrassWhen It’s Best to Aerate
FescueFall – September/October
BermudaSpring - April
CentipedeSpring - April
ZoysiaSpring - April

These are times for the state of Georgia – or other similar climates.  Fescue grass has its most productive growth in the Fall, while the others (Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia grass) have completed green-up and are ready for vigorous growth around April.

How Aeration and Overseeding Go Together

Right after aeration is the perfect time to overseed and water your lawn.  The soil has been refreshed and the thatch debris that might block nutrients from reaching the new roots has been reduced or removed.  The new seeds drop into the holes and make excellent contact with the dirt.  This allows the seeds to germinate and allows new growth to flourish.  

Annual aeration and overseeding will strengthen your entire lawn.  It will give you the following results:

  • Fills in empty or bare spots with new grass
  • Hinders weed growth, as it makes it harder for weeds to take hold  
  • Increases the resistance to pests in your lawn
  • Gives you a gorgeous, green lawn


Hopefully, this information gives you an idea of when it is best to aerate your lawn.  It will vary, depending on the climate in your area and the type of grass in your lawn.  The table above is based on warmer climates, such as the state of Georgia.  If you aerate at the appropriate time, following aeration with overseeding and watering (not too much, but enough to keep the soil moist) – you can have the lawn you desire.  

If you are concerned about doing it yourself, dealing with equipment rentals, and having the time or ability to do this well – contact Pride In Turf.  You will be assured of a professional outcome – guaranteed!

Pride In Turf is an Atlanta-based lawn fertilization and weed control company. Here is a post about the 3 numbers in lawn fertilizer and what they mean.

On all lawn fertilizer labels, you will see a combination of 3 numbers in various combinations. They may look like 10-10-10, 16-4-8, or many other combinations. These numbers are the NPK ratio and are very important in choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn. NPK stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).

What do the NPK Numbers Mean?

Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are your lawn's three most important nutrients. The NPK numbers give you the ratio or percentage of each of these nutrients the fertilizer contains. For example, a fertilizer with an NPK of 10-10-10 contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorous, and 10% potassium. Each of these nutrients has different benefits for your lawn, and the numbers for the fertilizer your lawn needs will depend on your lawn. 

How to Know What Numbers are Needed in your Fertilizer

 There are many fertilizers with a variety of NPK numbers with different percentages of each nutrient. A soil test can help determine what NPK to look for in your fertilizer. The soil test will tell you which nutrients your soil contains and which nutrients it lacks. If your soil test informs you that you do not have enough phosphorous in your lawn, you want a fertilizer with plenty of phosphorous. The same goes for other nutrients as well, such as a natural nitrogen fertilizer. Your soil test may also tell you how many pounds of the three nutrients your lawn needs.  

What Do the 3 Nutrients Do for your Lawn

The 3 nutrients (NPK) each have different benefits for your lawn and work together for a healthy lawn. The following gives you some of the main benefits of each nutrient needed in your lawn:

  • Nitrogen (N):  boosts fast growth and dark green color
  • Phosphorous (P):  encourages strong root growth
  • Potassium (K):  improves disease resistance and overall plant health

So, if your main goal is to make your lawn grow faster and greener, you will want a fertilizer with high nitrogen content. As seasons change, the nutrients your lawn needs will change as well.

NPK – Benefits of Each Nutrient

The NPK ratio in fertilizer varies from season to season. These changes are based on the nutrient requirements of your turfgrass for upcoming weather and expected temperatures over the next 6 – 12 weeks. The following table gives general information about the benefits of each of these important nutrients:

N - Nitrogen*Stimulates new root growth so early spring fertilizers may have higher nitrogen levels to get the grass growing quickly*Helps lawn recovers from environmental stress
P - Phosphorous*Critical in developing and strengthening healthy root systems, which keeps the lawn healthy throughout changing weather and stresses of the season*Involves in metabolic processes and transfer of energy throughout the plant
K - Potassium*Supports internal processes of plant cells, which affects photosynthesis, water absorption, respirations, and protein production.*A deficiency in potassium (K) weakens the plant and increases vulnerability to drought temperature fluctuation and disease


Hopefully, you have a better idea of what the NPK numbers mean when selecting a fertilizer for your lawn. However, it is confusing to know exactly which one is best for your lawn. You can get a soil sample through your local agricultural extension office if you want to find out the specifics of what your lawn needs. It is important to put the best fertilizer with the appropriate percentages of nutrients (NPK) to get the results you want for your beautiful lawn.

If you want to make sure your lawn is getting the best treatment, contact Pride In Turf for a professional and accurate opinion. They can take the work out of it for you and help you achieve what you want – and beautify a green and healthy lawn.

Unfortunately, your lawn can have both thatch and compaction problems. You may need both if your lawn has spongy brown carpet and rock-hard soil. You will only need to dethatch your lawn if the thatch becomes an issue. As long as the thatch layer stays thin, nutrients can reach the soil, and the grass will grow thick and healthy. A thin layer of thatch fits your lawn as it provides nutrients for earthworms and beneficial microbes. It also insulates the soil during extreme temperature shifts. Thick thatch (over ½ inch long) acts as a barrier against sunlight, water, oxygen, and nutrients, and this will diminish soil quality and stifles root growth. Compacted soil also restricts root growth and does not give roots space to receive water, oxygen, and nutrients from the soil surface. This is when you need aeration.  

The difference between Dethatching and Aerating

Dethatching is vigorously raking up excel thatch, a layer of dead grass, leaves, and other organic matter between grass blades and the soil surface). Dethatching gives the soil and grassroots access to water, oxygen, sunlight, and nutrients. Aeration loosens lawn soil and fixes problems with compaction (or gives your ground more air). Core aeration (or plug aeration) involves poking out small cores of soil from your lawn to relieve soil compaction. This gives roots the space to grow and increases the flow of nutrients, water, and oxygen to the roots allowing the ideal time to fertilize your lawn.

Knowing When Your Lawn Needs Dethatching or Aerating

It can be difficult to know if your lawn needs dethatching, aeration, or both. You can do some tests on your own to determine what is required.

How to know if your lawn needs dethatching:  Measure your thatch as follows:

  • Dig a 3-inch hole in your yard and remove a small slice of soil
  • Measure the brown, spongy thatch layer between the grass blades and the soil surface
  • If the thatch layer is over half an inch long, your lawn could use dethatching

How to know if your yard needs aeration:  Shallow root depth is a strong indicator of soil compaction:

  • Cut out a small section of lawn at least 6 inches deep
  • Use a ruler to measure the length of your grassroots
  • If grassroots are growing only 1 to 2 inches deep, your soil probably needs aeration

Signs Your Lawn Needs Dethatching or Aeration

The lawn may need Dethatching if…..The lawn may need Aeration if…..
The ground is spongy and springy to the touchThe soil feels hard to the touch
Grass blades are weakThe grass is thinning or developing diseases (like brown patches)
The grass is thinning, and dry spots are appearingThe lawn is not draining correctly during rainstorms
Weeds are invadingWeeds are invading
The grass is losing its healthy, green colorThe grass is turning yellow
The lawn is developing an insect problemThe grass is growing slowly
The property is more sensitive to temperature extremesTrees and shrubs are showing symptoms of stress (wilting, leaf scorch, early fall color, or dieback)
Fungal diseases are infecting your lawn

Can you Dethatch and Aerate at the Same Time?

It can vary how often you need to dethatch or aerate your lawn. Some grasses may need annual treatments, whereas others may only need dethatching or aerating every few years. You can do both simultaneously; however, dethatching should come first. Dethatching removes the layer of thatch above the soil surface, blocking air, light, and water from reaching the roots. Aeration should be done right after dethatching. This removes plugs from the lawn, which helps the root system spread out and grow deeper into the soil. Combined, matching and then aerating will create the best results when both are needed.


As you can see from this information, symptoms of thick thatch and compacted soil can be pretty similar. There are tests to determine the needs of your lawn and which method is best – or when you may need both (as stated above). It is always a good idea to seek an excellent professional opinion for the best results. Professionals can provide the best information for the type of grass in your lawn and the best time to dethatch or aerate for the climate in your area. Knowing precisely what and when aeration is needed for your property will help you reach your goals and give you the lush, green lawn you desire— contact Pride In Turf for information from a trusted lawn aeration professional.

Core aeration for your lawn is important, as it allows vital nutrients, water, sunlight and oxygen to sink in and reach the root system of your lawn.  It promotes a healthy root system, giving you a lush lawn better equipped to defend against unwanted weeds and grasses.  Typically, it is best to dethatch or aerate in the early Fall before the growing season is over.  It is not best to aerate in the Spring as this is when the soil is full of dormant weed seeds ready to grow, especially in areas with warm climates.  Should you fertilize your lawn after aerating?  The answer to that is an emphatic YES!

When to Add Fertilizer After Aerating

After aerating is a good time for overseeding, especially if your lawn is thin and/or patchy. One of the purposes of aerating is to create holes in the turf so the fertilizer makes good soil contact.  The soils can absorb more nutrients, water, oxygen, and room to grow.  It is best to add fertilizer immediately after aerating, or at least within 48 hours of aerating.  Fertilizing after aerating gives the fertilizer the best chance to get down deep into the holes created by aerating.  Fertilizing and overseeding after aerating gives you the best chance for a lush, green lawn as this is when the lawn is more exposed to oxygen. 

Should I Fertilize Before or After Aerating

It is best to always fertilize after aerating.  As stated above, this allows the fertilizer to get down in the soil for the best results.  After fertilizing the lawn, then it is best to seed the lawn (if seeding is needed).  Of course, the lawn should be watered after aerating, fertilizing, and overseeding.  However, it is important to water often and not too much.  The best is to remember that the lawn will require less water, but more frequently to keep the soil moist for the best benefits.

Steps After Aerating

  • Mow the lawn before aerating as you do not want to mow the lawn for a while after aerating
  • Leave the soil plugs on the lawn to decompose and filter back into the holes left by aerating
  • Apply fertilizer after aerating the lawn to add needed nutrients to the grassroots.  This should be done right after aerating, or at least within 48 hours of aerating
  • Reseed the lawn, especially in areas of the lawn where the grass is thin
  • Avoid walking on the lawn as much as possible after aerating.  This gives seeds and fertilizer time to settle.  Walking on the lawn can cause it to become compact and prevent the seeds from sprouting and the soil from getting enough oxygen and nutrients.


Taking care of a lawn is a large task and requires work throughout the year. Knowing when to aerate your lawn is important. Aeration along with fertilization is an essential part of lawn care for a lush, green lawn.  This information is to provide some information on when it is best to aerate your lawn. It is very important to also fertilize the lawn after aeration to get the best results. 

Professional lawn aeration experts, such as Pride In Turf, can accurately determine the best needs for your lawn based on your grass type, lawn size and other needs.

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