Winter Lawn Aeration: Should I Aerate in Winter?

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • January 29, 2020

Winter Lawn Aeration: To Aerate or Not To Aerate

So you’ve spent all spring, summer, and fall creating the most immaculate yard in the neighborhood — but what happens in the winter? Year round lawn care is crucial!

While we don’t have frequent snowfall in the Carolinas, we aren’t immune to frost and freezing temperatures, meaning we don’t have the ideal climate for winter lawn aeration. The process of aerating can be intense, so it needs to be done in the optimal growing season so your lawn has plenty of time to recover. 

So, what is aeration you may ask?

Aeration is the process of poking or piercing holes into your soil for the purpose of increasing airflow and letting your lawn breathe. Our lawns get stressed out just like we do, so it’s important to pamper them occasionally. Think of aerating as a facial treatment from your dermatologist — it’s opening the pores and improving the flow of nutrients to your soil. 

There’s a lot of awesome benefits to lawn aeration: improved water and fertilizer uptake, stronger grassroots, reduced soil compaction, reduced runoff, and more. 

For an in-depth look at aeration and how to do it, check out our blog Back to Basics: Understanding the Importance of Aeration.

Winter Aeration – Yes or No?

Short answer – no, you shouldn’t aerate during the winter. 

Aeration depends entirely on where you are and what kind of grass you have, but it’s still unlikely that you live in a climate where you could justify winter lawn aeration. Your grass doesn’t actually die in the winter, but it does go dormant and enters a state in which it’s a lot more fragile than it is in the spring. Aerating during this time can put too much stress on the lawn, and because it’s not in a growth period, it will be hard for the grass to recover. 

However, just because you shouldn’t aerate, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other lawn care methods you can practice! The winter can be harsh on our lawns – they deal with damage from ice, snow, plowing, winter desiccation, low temperature kill, and more. To protect your lawn during this time, take a look at these tips: 

  • Make sure you overseed your lawn in the fall – this is prime time for seeding because of the growth of turf roots

  • Keep it clean, extra debris can smother it 

  • Don’t mow the grass too short, you’ll expose the crown of the blades to harsh weather conditions

  • Stay off the lawn as much as possible, heavy traffic can cause soil compaction in an already-fragile state

So, When Should You Aerate?

To determine the best time for aerating, you must first identify which type of grass you have. Because the United States is so vast, there are many different climates within the country with differing plant-life, so where you live is a key factor in deciding when to aerate. 

To make things more simple, let’s split up the U.S. by region – if you were to divide the country into thirds from top to bottom, here are the three climates:

1. Cool-season turfgrasses

This region contains the northern states from coast to coast – you can draw an imaginary border between Pennsylvania and Northern California to give you an idea. Because cool-season grasses thrive in temperatures of about 60-70 degrees, their optimal growing seasons are early spring and fall. However, they’ve also adapted to survive the hot summers and very cold winters that occur in these areas. 

Examples of these species include:

  • Annual ryegrass

  • Kentucky bluegrass

  • Tall fescue

  • Perennial ryegrass

  • Creeping bentgrass

2. Transition zone

This zone refers to the middle-third of the U.S. where the climate could be suitable for both cool-season and warm-season turfgrasses – and it stretches from North Carolina to Southern California. Because these areas don’t get too cold or too hot, either type of grass could potentially thrive in the transition zone. 

3. Warm-season turfgrasses

The final region refers to the southern states that never get too cold – from about South Carolina through lower Arizona. Warm-season grasses grow well in temperatures of 80-95 degrees, which is why these states provide an optimal climate for them to thrive in. They can’t survive in regions where they have cold winters, so you’ll see them in the transition zone, but almost never north of Virginia. 

Examples of these species include:

  • Bermuda grass

  • St. Augustine grass

  • Zoysia grass

  • Centipede grass

Now that you’ve determined what kind of grass you have, you can figure out the best time to aerate your lawn. Keep in mind that the best time to aerate for any type of grass is during it’s growing period so that it has the best chance of recovering. Winter is the growing season for very few species of grass, so be sure to correctly identify what your lawn is made of. 

For cool-season turfgrasses:

If you have cool-season turfgrass, the best time to aerate your lawn is early spring or fall, when the temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

For warm-season turfgrasses:

If you have warm-season turfgrass, wait until later spring or summer to aerate, when the temperatures start to get above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Year-round Lawn Care

Lawn care isn’t confined to the growing seasons – it’s important to take care of your yard all year long. If you’d like a lush, healthy lawn but aren’t ready to tackle it by yourself, consider the benefits of hiring a professional service to help. At Killingsworth Environmental, we’re committed to providing you with safe, environmentally friendly and affordable care that works for every lawn. To schedule your lawn care service today, get in contact with us!

To learn more about the benefits of having year-round professional lawn care service, download our guide, The Four Seasons Of Lawn Care: The Seasonal Benefits Of Having A Professional Lawn Care Service. 

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