Aerating your lawn is a great way to promote healthy roots and soil. When do you need to aerate your lawn in California? The answer isn’t always straightforward. 

Some seasons and conditions can make lawn aeration less affected – aerate during the rainy season, for instance, and it can cause compacted soil and root damage. 

That said, aeration is essential when it comes to creating and maintaining a healthy lawn. It will help the grass grow better and stronger by allowing water, air, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil. 

Here’s what you need to know about aerating your lawn in California – and finding the best time of the year to do so.

What Is Lawn Aeration? 

Lawn aeration involves penetrating the soil with small perforating holes to let water, nutrients, and air penetrate the roots of your grass. That way, your roots can grow deeply and produce a stronger, healthier lawn.

The primary goal of aeration is to reduce compaction in the soil. When soils are compacted, it can prevent the proper circulation of water, air, and nutrients. You may notice dead or dying spots on your lawn as a result of over compacted soils.

Just about everyone will need to aerate their lawn at some point, but those that get heavy use or are made of clay soils will require more frequent aeration to stay healthy. 

There are several types of aeration you can do, including spike, core, and liquid aeration. The most common type is core aeration, which uses two- to three-inch cores plugged into the ground and removed every few inches to loosen things up. It is especially ideal when working with heavily compacted lawns since it breaks up and redistributes the soil.

How Does Aeration Affect Your Lawn? 

Aeration is vital for several reasons. In California, particularly much of Southern California, the soil tends to become dense and hard. This is because it is often composed of clay and rock, making it challenging for grassroots to get the air, water, and nutrients they need. 

Benefits Of Lawn Aeration

Lawn aeration serves several benefits.

For one, it loosens up compacted soil so that the roots of grass and other plants can access the water, oxygen, and nutrients they need. According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, “Soil compaction is the primary factor limiting plant growth in urban soils.” Compacted soil can retard the ability of plants to use nutrients. Nutrients may be present in the root zone but may not be available to the plant in saturated soil, compacted soil, or soil with low biological activity. Remember, living organisms in the soil need oxygen, therefore compacted soil reduces biological activity.”

Plus, aerating can save water, meaning you’ll need to do less watering. In California’s many drought-prone areas, this is vital. 

Potential Downsides of Lawn Aeration 

According to most lawn care professionals, as long as you do it at the appropriate time and frequency, there are few downsides to lawn aeration. 

If you opt for the core aeration method, it can leave some unattractive aeration plugs left on your lawn, making it look like a bit of a battlefield. It can also be somewhat time-consuming, and if you need to rent a machine to aerate the lawn, it can get expensive. 

Otherwise, though, there are few disadvantages to aerating your lawn regularly. 

How To Know When Your Lawn Needs Aeration 

It can be tough to tell whether your lawn needs to be aerated or not, but it’s important to be confident in your decision to do so.

There are a few signs that your lawn is in desperate need of aeration.

One is if your lawn is hiding excess water runoff. This is a sign that water is having trouble penetrating through the soil surface.

Another key indicator is if your turf grass simply doesn’t look its best. If there are multiple dead grass spots or the grass is looking a bit on the ragged side, aeration could be just what the doctor ordered. 

If your lawn is having any of the following problems, aeration is a good idea:

  • Uneven growth – bare patches, especially those where even weeds cannot grow, indicate poor-quality or compacted soil
  • Poor drainage – rainwater and irrigation often pool in low areas of the lawn when they can’t get through compacted soil
  • Excessive thatch – if thatch is more than half an inch thick, it’s time to aerate
  • Dry or hard soil – if your lawn constantly feels bone dry and dense to the touch, aeration can help 


If you’re still not sure whether your lawn needs aeration, go ahead and cut out a small piece of sod. Take a close look at the roots. If it has underdeveloped or shallow roots, that’s a clear sign that it needs to be aerated. 

Finally, if your lawn regularly receives high traffic, you should plan to aerate more often. Even if it does not exhibit any of the signs listed above yet, if your lawn is regularly trampled by things like pets, children, or even heavy equipment such as riding mowers, you may want to plan for an aeration session soon.

Time Of Year Aeration Should Be Done 

The best time to aerate is during the growing season when your grass can heal and fill in any open areas once soil plugs are removed.

In most parts of California, the best time to aerate tends to be in the late summer to mid-fall months, ideally September or October. 

While the grass will likely still be actively growing, there’s a strong chance that the foot traffic on your lawn has slowed down a bit – you’re probably hosting fewer backyard barbecues now than you were in the middle of summer, after all. Fall aeration can help get your lawn strong and healthy again after a busy season of use.

Summer tends to herald a great deal of foot traffic and activity on your lawn, something that contributes to heavily compacted soil and makes it more difficult for nutrients, water, and oxygen to reach your plants. 

Ultimately, deciding the time of year to aerate your lawn will depend primarily on what type of grass you are growing.

Aerate in the early spring or early fall if you are growing cool-season grass, like bluegrass, fescue, or ryegrass. If you live in places like the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, or any other part of the region that experiences cold winters and hot summers, you’re likely growing a cool-season blend.

However, if you’re growing warm-season grass, like Bermuda or St. Augustine, the best time to aerate will be in the late spring or early summer. If you live in a hotter climate where temperature swings aren’t that drastic between seasons, you’re likely dealing with a warm-season type of grass. 

How Often You Should Aerate Your Lawn 

Knowing the right time of year to aerate your lawn is important, but you also need to nail the frequency of aeration too. 

Try to aerate at least once or twice a year for a lawn that experiences high traffic or has clay soil. This type of soil will be more prone to compaction.

If your lawn receives moderate traffic and is composed of loam or silty soil, aerating just once a year is perfectly fine.

And if your lawn receives minimal traffic and has sandy soil, you probably don’t need to aerate every year. It seldom compacts, so aerating once every two to three years is sufficient.

If you can, try to time your aeration based on other lawn-care tasks. Aerate your lawn before applying herbicides and overseeding. This will increase the effectiveness of both your seeding and your weed control efforts. 

Similarly, it’s a good idea to aerate before fertilizing and to water within 48 hours after aerating. During the first two to four weeks after aerating, try not to mow. You need to give the grass some time to recover!

Can You Aerate Your Lawn Too Much? 

Aeration is excellent for your grass, but you can certainly make the case of too much of a good thing here. Core aeration, in particular, can cause a lot of damage in the process. You need to give your grass time to recover from that damage and make repairs. 

While the benefits of aeration dramatically outweigh the risks, you should avoid aerating too often.

Regardless of how often you aerate your lawn, make sure you aren’t doing it when the weather is extremely hot or dry. Punching holes in the soil can expose it to more heat, which can dry out your grass and stress it even more. 

Conclusion 

The right time to aerate your lawn in California will be determined by various factors, like what kind of grass you are growing and what type of soil you have. Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that aeration is essential regardless of when you do it! Follow the tips above for surefire success every time.

When To Aerate Your Lawn In California

Aerating your lawn is a great way to promote healthy roots and soil. When do you need to aerate your lawn in California? The answer isn’t always straightforward. 

Some seasons and conditions can make lawn aeration less affected – aerate during the rainy season, for instance, and it can cause compacted soil and root damage. 

That said, aeration is essential when it comes to creating and maintaining a healthy lawn. It will help the grass grow better and stronger by allowing water, air, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil. 

Here’s what you need to know about aerating your lawn in California – and finding the best time of the year to do so.

What Is Lawn Aeration? 

Lawn aeration involves penetrating the soil with small perforating holes to let water, nutrients, and air penetrate the roots of your grass. That way, your roots can grow deeply and produce a stronger, healthier lawn.

The primary goal of aeration is to reduce compaction in the soil. When soils are compacted, it can prevent the proper circulation of water, air, and nutrients. You may notice dead or dying spots on your lawn as a result of over compacted soils.

Just about everyone will need to aerate their lawn at some point, but those that get heavy use or are made of clay soils will require more frequent aeration to stay healthy. 

There are several types of aeration you can do, including spike, core, and liquid aeration. The most common type is core aeration, which uses two- to three-inch cores plugged into the ground and removed every few inches to loosen things up. It is especially ideal when working with heavily compacted lawns since it breaks up and redistributes the soil.

How Does Aeration Affect Your Lawn? 

Aeration is vital for several reasons. In California, particularly much of Southern California, the soil tends to become dense and hard. This is because it is often composed of clay and rock, making it challenging for grassroots to get the air, water, and nutrients they need. 

Benefits Of Lawn Aeration

Lawn aeration serves several benefits.

For one, it loosens up compacted soil so that the roots of grass and other plants can access the water, oxygen, and nutrients they need. According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, “Soil compaction is the primary factor limiting plant growth in urban soils.” Compacted soil can retard the ability of plants to use nutrients. Nutrients may be present in the root zone but may not be available to the plant in saturated soil, compacted soil, or soil with low biological activity. Remember, living organisms in the soil need oxygen, therefore compacted soil reduces biological activity.”

Plus, aerating can save water, meaning you’ll need to do less watering. In California’s many drought-prone areas, this is vital. 

Potential Downsides of Lawn Aeration 

According to most lawn care professionals, as long as you do it at the appropriate time and frequency, there are few downsides to lawn aeration. 

If you opt for the core aeration method, it can leave some unattractive aeration plugs left on your lawn, making it look like a bit of a battlefield. It can also be somewhat time-consuming, and if you need to rent a machine to aerate the lawn, it can get expensive. 

Otherwise, though, there are few disadvantages to aerating your lawn regularly. 

How To Know When Your Lawn Needs Aeration 

It can be tough to tell whether your lawn needs to be aerated or not, but it’s important to be confident in your decision to do so.

There are a few signs that your lawn is in desperate need of aeration.

One is if your lawn is hiding excess water runoff. This is a sign that water is having trouble penetrating through the soil surface.

Another key indicator is if your turf grass simply doesn’t look its best. If there are multiple dead grass spots or the grass is looking a bit on the ragged side, aeration could be just what the doctor ordered. 

If your lawn is having any of the following problems, aeration is a good idea:

  • Uneven growth – bare patches, especially those where even weeds cannot grow, indicate poor-quality or compacted soil
  • Poor drainage – rainwater and irrigation often pool in low areas of the lawn when they can’t get through compacted soil
  • Excessive thatch – if thatch is more than half an inch thick, it’s time to aerate
  • Dry or hard soil – if your lawn constantly feels bone dry and dense to the touch, aeration can help 


If you’re still not sure whether your lawn needs aeration, go ahead and cut out a small piece of sod. Take a close look at the roots. If it has underdeveloped or shallow roots, that’s a clear sign that it needs to be aerated. 

Finally, if your lawn regularly receives high traffic, you should plan to aerate more often. Even if it does not exhibit any of the signs listed above yet, if your lawn is regularly trampled by things like pets, children, or even heavy equipment such as riding mowers, you may want to plan for an aeration session soon.

Time Of Year Aeration Should Be Done 

The best time to aerate is during the growing season when your grass can heal and fill in any open areas once soil plugs are removed.

In most parts of California, the best time to aerate tends to be in the late summer to mid-fall months, ideally September or October. 

While the grass will likely still be actively growing, there’s a strong chance that the foot traffic on your lawn has slowed down a bit – you’re probably hosting fewer backyard barbecues now than you were in the middle of summer, after all. Fall aeration can help get your lawn strong and healthy again after a busy season of use.

Summer tends to herald a great deal of foot traffic and activity on your lawn, something that contributes to heavily compacted soil and makes it more difficult for nutrients, water, and oxygen to reach your plants. 

Ultimately, deciding the time of year to aerate your lawn will depend primarily on what type of grass you are growing.

Aerate in the early spring or early fall if you are growing cool-season grass, like bluegrass, fescue, or ryegrass. If you live in places like the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, or any other part of the region that experiences cold winters and hot summers, you’re likely growing a cool-season blend.

However, if you’re growing warm-season grass, like Bermuda or St. Augustine, the best time to aerate will be in the late spring or early summer. If you live in a hotter climate where temperature swings aren’t that drastic between seasons, you’re likely dealing with a warm-season type of grass. 

How Often You Should Aerate Your Lawn 

Knowing the right time of year to aerate your lawn is important, but you also need to nail the frequency of aeration too. 

Try to aerate at least once or twice a year for a lawn that experiences high traffic or has clay soil. This type of soil will be more prone to compaction.

If your lawn receives moderate traffic and is composed of loam or silty soil, aerating just once a year is perfectly fine.

And if your lawn receives minimal traffic and has sandy soil, you probably don’t need to aerate every year. It seldom compacts, so aerating once every two to three years is sufficient.

If you can, try to time your aeration based on other lawn-care tasks. Aerate your lawn before applying herbicides and overseeding. This will increase the effectiveness of both your seeding and your weed control efforts. 

Similarly, it’s a good idea to aerate before fertilizing and to water within 48 hours after aerating. During the first two to four weeks after aerating, try not to mow. You need to give the grass some time to recover!

Can You Aerate Your Lawn Too Much? 

Aeration is excellent for your grass, but you can certainly make the case of too much of a good thing here. Core aeration, in particular, can cause a lot of damage in the process. You need to give your grass time to recover from that damage and make repairs. 

While the benefits of aeration dramatically outweigh the risks, you should avoid aerating too often.

Regardless of how often you aerate your lawn, make sure you aren’t doing it when the weather is extremely hot or dry. Punching holes in the soil can expose it to more heat, which can dry out your grass and stress it even more. 

Conclusion 

The right time to aerate your lawn in California will be determined by various factors, like what kind of grass you are growing and what type of soil you have. Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that aeration is essential regardless of when you do it! Follow the tips above for surefire success every time.

How Long Does Sod Take To Root?

If you want to grow a healthy new sod lawn, you need to ensure it has full root establishment before you start walking on it or mowing it. 

But how long does sod take to root? Are you going to be stuck avoiding your fresh sod lawn for weeks?

Fortunately, that’s not the case. Most of the time, it only takes two weeks for sod to develop a good root system and just a month for grass roots to be fully developed. There are things you can do in the meantime to ensure healthy growth and the faster development of grass roots. 

Whether you are prepping and installing your sod or having a professional do it for you, here’s what you need to know about rooting sod. 

 

Properly Preparing Your Soil

Preparing your soil for new sod is just as important as laying the sod itself!

Before you lay sod, make sure the soil is adequate. Till in any new additions that will help encourage growth, like lime, compost, or sulfur. This will give the sod a fertile bed in which to spread its roots. 

You should also make sure the area where the sod will be laid is flat and even. If there are any contours or low points in the yard, this can cause water to collect. Avoid it by thoroughly raking the soil. 

 

Phase 1: Shallow Roots 

Sod generally forms a set of roots within 14 days, but these roots are pretty shallow. To ensure that these roots form, you will want to start watering your grass immediately after it is placed.  We’ll provide you with more detailed instructions on how to water your sod below. 

The initial period of root growth is a very sensitive stage, so you need to avoid walking on your lawn or mowing it during this time. Instead, leave it alone (except for watering) within the first two weeks. Any foot traffic can compact the sod, depriving it of nutrients and water. 

 

Phase 2: Deep Roots

After the first 14 days, you can reduce the amount of watering that you do. Water every other day instead of every day, so the roots have to reach deep down into the soil to find water. This will encourage complete root development. 

Deep roots should form within a month or so, but you may begin mowing your lawn after 14 days. Make sure the grass is dry and your mower blades are sharp for this initial mowing, so you don’t damage or rip the sod as you mow!

 

Encouraging Faster Rooting

There are several ways you can encourage your sod to root faster.

One is to fertilize it. All new lawns, including sod, thrive when quality fertilizer is applied. Fertilizing your sod will help to create a sustainable root system that stands the test of time. Use either a granular fertilizer like Triple 15 or Triple 16 (that’s what we use) or a liquid fertilizer. 

You may also want to aerate your lawn about six months to one year after laying sod. Do it again once or twice a year after that. This will allow fertilizer, water, and other essentials to get to the new sod’s roots with ease.

You can also use a lawn roller immediately after you lay the sod. This reduces air pockets between the topsoil and the sod to make sure the two layers properly fuse.

Expert Tip

“Plant roots develop in the spring and the fall when things cool down and the environment is not as hot and stressful. That is why doing the proper watering and fertilizing year round helps protect when things are not ideal in the summer. In the winter the plant typically goes semi dormant or dormant depending on the type.”

– Gene Barrow, President of SodLawn

How Can You Tell if Sod is Rooted?

It takes about two weeks for shallow roots to form and six weeks for deep root growth. As long as you prepare and care for your sod properly, it will look gorgeous and green this entire time.

But how do you know if it has successfully rooted?

 

It’s pretty simple. Just gently lift a corner of a piece of sod. If the roots haven’t developed (or haven’t developed fully), you will find that there’s no resistance when you lift the sod. If it has rooted, it should be somewhat difficult for you to lift the sod.

If your sod isn’t rooting, it could be because the roots are struggling to break through compacted soil. Aerating after the fact can help, but it’s much more effective if you can prevent this by rototilling before putting down sod.

 

How Long After Laying Sod Can You Walk On It?

You should find that your sod sets roots within two weeks. 

On average, you should wait until your lawn has those initial roots to walk on it. Wait two weeks before you step on your lawn, but double-check that it’s set roots first before you do. 

That way, you can be sure you will not damage your sod by walking on it too soon!

 

Can You Water New Sod Too Much?

The key to growing healthy new sod is providing it with consistent watering. If you’re putting down new sod in the summer, you need to water it regularly throughout the day to prevent it from drying and shrinking.

Your watering frequency should be enough so that it remains consistently and evenly moist at all times for at least two weeks after it has been installed. Then, continue to water it for another two weeks to prevent it from drying out. 

Water for a minimum of 45 minutes a day immediately after the installation. After a week, you can cut back to about 15 to 20 minutes of watering time every other day for about one to two inches of water per week. 

These are just averages, though, since some types of sod are more drought-tolerant while others need more water. 

The best time to water is in the morning, such as around 2 AM. If you water in the afternoon, which is generally the warmest time of day, the water will evaporate instead of being absorbed. 

 

Conclusion

If you’ve successfully laid down and cared for your sod, it should set shallow roots within two weeks. It will be fully installed and ready to go within a month or two. 

 

Be patient and diligent in caring for your sod, and you’ll have a lawn that stays lush and healthy for years to come!