Sometimes, you find your groove and just want to do some yard work, knocking out all of your pruning, raking, trimming, aerating, fertilizing, and mowing all in the same time period. While this ambition is admirable, it may be a good idea to take a moment and consider if any of these tasks may be counterproductive to one another. For example, can I mow right after aerating?
You can mow right after aerating—but it is not at all recommended. The principal reasons for aerating, such as allowing grass roots easier access to air, water, and nutrients, can be negated when mowing directly after aerating.
Therefore, if your grass absolutely needs to be mowed, then it is better to mow directly before aerating than immediately after. To help your grass roots thrive as much as possible, gardeners should rake and thatch their lawn first, clearing any obtrusive debris; mow second to get the lawn at a desirable length; and aerate and fertilize last to allow for maximum penetration of air, water, and nutrients. Read on to learn more about the best times to mow and aerate.
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Should I Mow Right After Aerating?
You should not mow right after aerating. The reason for aeration is to break up compacted ground to allow air, water, and nutrients to flow more freely to roots, creating healthier grass in the process. By mowing right after aerating, these benefits are negated in a couple of ways:
- The weight of the lawn mower can cause the ground to be compacted again, forcing the aerated turf back down into its original home.
- The lawn mower can break up the chunks of turf into small particles that can easily cause aeration holes to fill up.
Often, the sizable chunks of turf created during the aeration process can cause a bit of discomfiture for homeowners, who view them as visually unappealing. Therefore, they immediately want to get out the mower and break them up.
In addition, some homeowners think that using a mower to break up aerated chunks of turf not only improves the lawn’s visual appearance but can actually be of benefit in spreading nutrients into the aerated holes. However, the opposite effect occurs, and the original turf is returned before the benefits of aeration can kick in.
Should I Mow Right Before Aerating?
You should mow right before aerating. Significant grass and cover can absorb water and nutrients before they ever penetrate the soil, so mowing can help mitigate this concern, creating a more free-flowing path for water, air, and nutrients after the ground has been aerated.
A general hierarchy of how to care for your lawn and foster the growth of healthy grass in the early spring growing season is:
- Rake and thatch your lawn, clearing the surface of any dead grass, twigs, and leaves that have accumulated over the winter.
- Mow the lawn to ensure that any remaining debris is picked up and that all sections of the lawn are at a uniform length.
- Sprinkle the lawn to create a moist aerating environment.
- Aerate the lawn, performing any overseeding that you deem necessary.
- Keep the lawn moist as you wait for the new springtime grass to take root.
How Long Should I Wait to Mow After Aerating?
For aerating to be beneficial, you must give your lawn enough time to acclimate to aeration, set roots, and grow. This process generally takes between two to four weeks, meaning that you should keep your lawn mower parked during this time frame.
However, the length of time to wait before mowing after aerating differs based on what type of grass is present in your lawn. For example, fescue and ryegrass can usually take root within 10 to 14 days, while Kentucky bluegrass will likely require a full four weeks before it is ready to be mowed.
If you are unsure what type of grass is present in your lawn, it is best to take a sample to a lawn care professional so that you can choose the best process for aerating and reseeding your yard.
Should I Water Right After Aerating?
Many rookie aerators mistakenly believe that providing air is the most important aspect of aerating, giving grass roots greater access to the water and nutrients provided by Mother Nature. While there is some validity behind this thought process, it is critical to keep aerated soil moist until grass begins to show consistent growth.
While aeration does allow for the increased flow of air, water, and nutrients, the increased exposure also creates an environment ripe for excessive drying. Many times, there is not enough natural moisture to prevent roots from drying out and fostering growth, so it is critical to begin sprinkling your aerated lawn immediately, with a focus on keeping the lawn constantly moist but never waterlogged.
You can mow your lawn right after aerating, but it is strongly discouraged. Aeration exposes grass roots and allows for the easier flow of air, water, and nutrients, with mowing negating many of these benefits. It is best to mow immediately before aerating and wait at least two weeks after aerating to mow again.