Verticutting Vs. Aerating {Which Is Better For My Lawn?}  

Are you here to find out if aerating or verticutting is better for your lawn right now? Do you need to learn about the timing and differences between aeration and verticutting?

You’ve come to the right place. This article will try to explain the debate on verticutting vs. aerating.

Should I Choose Verticutting or Aerating? Aeration is best when you want to break up compaction in your lawn and control thatch, but it isn’t the preferred method for seeding. Verticutting offer the best solution for creating an even seed bed with controlled overseeding. 

You have to make a choice today between the two for your lawn, but you can cycle both options each year. Let’s find out when and how.

What Is Verticutting?

Verticutting is all about making cuts or small slices in the soil that are shallow and vertical. A machine is used with many vertical blades to make these slices uniform. The grooves it creates in the soil allows for better contact between the seed and the soil.

When contact improves between the seed and soil, the seed germinates better. Overseeding is a popular method through verticutting to achieve higher levels of germination and seed growth. A verticutter is practically essential for cutting the time and improving the efficiency of overseeding.

What’s The Best Way To Verticut?

There will be multiple opinions from experienced landscapers and experts, but what we’re trying to do is copy what farmers do with huge machines to drill crops into their fields. You can drill grass seeds with a verticutter which will reduce seeds washing out from heavy rains.

Verticut a lawn that contains dead grass, bare ground or plenty of weeds. Basically, turn that disaster of a lawn into something special after verticutting it in two perpendicular directions. The seed will drill into the grooves you made much better and improve soil contact.

What Is Aeration?

Areation is specifically referred to as core aerating when speaking of lawns. It pulls at the core and plugs soil from your lawn. It helps to reduce compaction and soften up the dense soil. The water infiltrates better and gas is released much easier.

Nutrients get into the soil faster and the roots of the grass are stronger this way. If your lawn is thick and drainage is poor, the idea is to reduce compaction with core aerating. We’re trying to improve the condition of the soil before seeding.

What Are The Benefits of Verticutting?

  • A verticutter makes clean, uniform slices
  • Improves seed to soil contact
  • Great for overseeding
  • Improves germination
  • Drills grass seeds efficiently 
  • Great for dead lawns with weeds and bare patches

What Are The Benefits of Aerating?

  • Reduces soil compaction
  • Decreases soil density
  • Allows water to infiltrate deeper
  • Enables gases to escape easier
  • Absorbs more nutrients 
  • Improves drainage

Can I Verticut and Aerate At The Same Time?

Although we enjoy the productivity of multitasking, the act of verticutting and core aerating cannot be done at the same time. Your lawn will look terrible. You will notice holes or plugs everywhere. The grass needs time to establish itself. Core aerating will help once the soil is settled and the seeds have firmly been rooted and sprouted beyond gemrination.

This could take a season or two in between or a full year depending on the growth of your lawn. It’s best to be patient and spread the two processes out in a cycle of aeration and verticutting.

What Is The Process Of Aerating?

Imagine punching holes into your lawn. Let’s be more precise and say these holes are between 1-3 inches deep. The soil expands this way and compaction is reduced after a long summer season of sunshine packing it tightly. Once compaction is relieved, the roots develop better.

Thatch buildup is also reduced because the core of the soil comes back up to the surface. Microbes start to activate at a higher level to speed up the process of decomposing the thatch. The decomposition becomes healthy for the soil as a sort of compost and clean organic matter for the plants or grass.

If your lawn is bare or thin, the seeds will not make the best contact with core aerating only. A verticutter should come first, then wait two seasons or up to one year before aerating.

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What Does The Process Of Verticutting Look Like?

Think of a verticutter like a specialized lawn mower. The main difference here is that a verticutter has vertical blades instead of the single horizontal blade of a lawn mower. The vertical blades cut down into the soil to create grooves. It breaks up the thatch layer and allows for the seed to drop firmly into the soil.

This is how we get longer grass in thick lines that look uniform and run deep through the thatch layer. A verticutter works best on a mess of a lawn that is bare, patchy or full of weeds.

Should I Aerate First, Then Verticut?

This depends on the state of your lawn. If the soil is compacted and the drainage is poor, then you should consider aerating first. A thin or bare lawn that is compacted heavily could use a round of aerating first.

Verticut in one direction after aerating your lawn. Apply the seeds and verticut again perpendicular to the original direction. Now you’ll have a better quality seed bed and the allow for the soil and seed to make optimal contact for germination and growth.

  • Aerate first to reduce compaction.
  • Verticut one way.
  • Apply the seeds.
  • Verticut the opposite way.

If your lawn is not compacted, but still bare or full of weeds, you can skip core aerating first and verticut in the fall and aerate in the spring.

How Often Should I Aerate My Lawn?

It’s a good rule of thumb to aerate your lawn once a year. You’re looking to pull up pieces of dirt from the soil and get to the core. This is when oxygen, water and nutrients can seep into the soil below to get to the roots much better.

The lawn becomes looser, but the roots become stronger. Then overseeding the lawn with verticutting becomes more productive in the coming season or two down the road.

Should I Use A Core Aerator Over A Verticutter?

This article pits the aerator and verticutter against each other, but they can both be applied to your lawn. If you need to improve the density of the soil and reduce compaction, go with the aerator. When you want to overseed large areas and get the best germination results, use a verticutter.

If there are only a few spots that are bare, you don’t need a verticutter. You can use a rake and put a little muscle into it. Verticutting is best when the soil is moist. It’s also best when dust is reduced so water the lawn down 2-3 days prior to verticutting.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When Should You Verticut Your Yard?

The preferred time to verticut a yard or lawn is during growing season. Warm-season turf grows best in late spring or early summer. This is when you should verticut. If your turf grows best during late fall to early winter, verticut at that time.

Should I Verticut My Lawn?

Consider verticutting your lawn once a year around growing season which is usually the spring and summer. It helps to remove the pesky thatch layer that prevents long and healthy blades of glass from growing fully. It’s also a great way to overseed the lawn.

Can I Verticut and Aerate?

Yes, you can do both, but not at the same time. Aerate in the fall, but do not overseed at this time. Verticut in the following spring and overseed then. It’s recommended to keep an alternating schedule between aerating and verticutting. You can space them out up to one year apart.

When Should I Aerate My Lawn?

Aeration is best to do in the fall. Consider starting in September or October. The sun bakes the lawn all summer and leaves it compacted. This is when gases are more stuck and nutrients do not flow into your lawn as easily. Aerate the lawn for the fall and leave it for the winter. Spring aeration is also fine and you can aerate both in the fall and spring if you notice your lawn compacted again after the winter.

When Should You Not Aerate Your Lawn?

Aeration could be done once a year, but sometimes you can bend this general suggestion if you have the problem of heavily impacted soil in your lawn. Spring is not the best time because you are creating holes in the lawn. These holes invite weed seeds to flourish, germinate and grow as well. Aerating in the fall is better to prevent an attack of the weeds.

We hope this article helps to shed any misconceptions between aerating and verticutting. Both are helpful for your lawn, but cannot work at the same time together. Thank you and we wish you good luck with your lawn!