April through June is the best time to aerate Bermuda grass. This timing is optimal because it is after the lawn has greened up and is beginning to grow. By aerating in late spring or early summer, you loosen the soil just before your Bermuda grass lawn’s best natural growing period. This will cause your lawn to have a boost in growth.
Never aerate a Bermuda lawn that is dormant, has not yet greened up, or is experiencing drought conditions. Aerating under these circumstances can harm grass and invite weeds.
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Benefits of Aerating Your Bermuda Lawn
Why aerate your Bermuda lawn? There are a lot of benefits to your grass health. A core aerator will remove soil plugs and decompact your soil. This not only helps your grass develop deep roots, but it also lets water and nutrients enter the soil and become available to your lawn.
- Decompacts soil, allowing for grass root growth.
- Allows air, nutrients, and water to penetrate the soil and feed your lawn.
- Breaks up thatch that chokes out grass.
- Prepares the lawn for seeding and fertilization.
If you plan to fertilize or overseed your lawn in spring, core aeration creates perfect pockets for seeds and fertilizer to drop into. It will increase the germination rate of any seed you spread and boost the effectiveness of your fertilizer.
How to Know When to Aerate Bermuda Grass
To determine if your Bermuda grass lawn is in need of aeration, perform this simple test:
- Choose a day when the soil is moist but not wet.
- Push a screwdriver into the soil.
- If the screwdriver easily sinks 2-4 inches into the soil, no aeration is needed.
- If the screwdriver struggles to penetrate the soil 2-4 inches, you need to aerate.
- Test multiple spots in the yard. Soil compaction may not be even across your yard.
It’s really that simple. No need for fancy tools or testing kits. You can determine for yourself when aeration is needed.
If when following the above process you notice your lawn feels a bit spongy, it may be a sign of thatch buildup. Try sticking your finger into the soil. If it’s difficult, consider dethatching your Bermuda grass before aerating.
Best Time to Aerate Bermuda Grass
Late spring or early summer, when Bermuda grass has exited dormancy and greened up, is the best time to aerate Bermuda lawns. Once it’s completely exited dormancy and has been mowed at least once in spring, it’s time to aerate.
- Between April and July.
- Wait until your grass has greened and been mowed at least once.
- Aerate in both spring and fall if your yard has clay soil.
- Fall aeration should be performed in October.
If your yard has heavy clay soil, like many areas of Texas, it’s prone to much faster compaction than other soil types. If this is the case, re-test your lawn in the fall (September/October). If the ground has compacted again, perform a second aeration in October. This can breathe a lot of extra life into your Bermuda lawn and result in a better green-up the following spring.
When to Avoid Aerating Bermuda Grass
There are times when you should avoid aerating Bermuda grass in order to preserve your yard’s long term health. Aerating dormant Bermuda grass creates opportunities for weeds to invade and take over. Similarly, aerating when you have recently applied pre-emergent will allow weeds to crop up. If any of the following apply, don’t aerate your yard:
- Bermuda is brown or dormant.
- It is peak summer or winter.
- Your lawn is experiencing drought conditions.
- You’ve sodded or seeded your yard in the last year.
- You’ve applied pre-emergent herbicide (crabgrass preventer) in the last 6 weeks.
Wait 2 years before aerating any newly seeded or sodded Bermuda grass. Aerating too soon can destroy young grass root systems. Also, aerating during dry or drought conditions can dry out the soil and cause your grass to yellow or brown.
How to Aerate Bermuda Grass
The best way to aerate your Bermuda grass lawn is to rent a core aerator from your local hardware store. Core aerators pull up “plugs” of soil and drop them on top of your yard. This is the best way to decompact soil and break up thatch.
- Use a core aerator. Avoid spike aerators.
- Use a criss-cross pattern to ensure the lawn is evenly aerated.
When aerating, first use an east-west pattern, then a north-south pattern. This will ensure that all areas of your yard have been properly aerated and give your Bermuda the biggest boost.
What to do After Aerating Bermuda Grass
Your lawn will soak up water and fertilizer better than ever after you’ve aerated. It’s a great idea to fertilize and/or overseed your lawn right after aeration. Seeds and fertilizer will perform much better because they can penetrate the soil more effectively due to the holes left by aeration. This can help make your Bermuda grass thicker.
- Fertilize right after aerating.
- Spread new Bermuda seed.
- Let soil plugs dry and break down on their own.
The soil plugs left by core aeration should be left to break down at their own pace. They will naturally recombine with the soil over time due to watering, mowing, and foot traffic on the lawn. If you try and speed this process up, you will cause the soil to recompact more quickly.
How Long After Aeration Can You Seed Bermuda?
It’s a great idea to overseed just after aerating. Not only will the holes left by the aeration machine serve as shelter for the seeds, protecting them from birds and other animals, they also provide great seed-to-soil contact.
Additionally, it’s best practice to allow 2 years before aerating a newly seeded lawn. Don’t miss out on a chance to decompact your soil. Aerate right before you overseed.
When Should Bermuda Grass Be Aerated?
Bermuda grass has its strongest growth period in the height of summer. Because of this, aerating in late spring or early summer decompacts soil and allows your lawn to have an extra growth boost right in the peak season.
Aerating at this time also prevents weeds from cropping up. Your Bermuda will be growing fast and strong enough that it will take advantage of the loosened soil before weeds can. With Bermuda grass, spring aeration is the key to success.