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Verticutting vs. Aerating: What’s the Best Way To Seed My Lawn?


Verticutting and seeding your lawn or aerating and overseeding? These are the two questions we hear at Ryan Lawn & Tree as quickly as the snow melts from those who want to plan for the best-looking lawn on the block. Spring seeding decisions are important in preparing your lawn for the thickest, greenest turf. Aeration and verticutting with seeding are sometimes used independently and sometimes together in order to create beautiful lawns throughout the Midwest. To decide which is right for your lawn, it’s also important to know the purpose and differences between the two.

The Difference Between Core Aeration & Verticutting

What Is Core Aeration?

  • Purpose: To unpack clay and stomped down soils and give grass roots room to breathe. 
  • Timing: Core aeration takes place before the seed to your lawn is applied.
  • Method: An aeration machine is pushed above the lawn and as it turns a rotating mechanism probes the soil and pulls out hundreds of cores evenly and consistently over the entire area.  The cores measure about ¾“ around and 3” deep. Then, you overseed and fertilized the entire yard and it is watered.
  • Best for: Homeowners with thick turf, poor drainage or heavy soil compaction from high traffic, hot temperatures and heavier clay presence. Lawns that need to create established plants from seedlings and to thicken lawns.
  • Lawn Challenges Solved: Soil compaction — which can be especially problematic during times of dry conditions. Aeration will improve air and water filtration, as well as nutrient uptake and reduced compaction, which in turn helps to improve the root system of your grass. 
  • Resulting Look: Aerating will create patches of new grass that will eventually become thicker. 

What Is Verticutting Your Lawn?

  • Purpose: To remove thatch buildup and allow for fertilizer, water and air to access the roots.
  • Timing: The verticutter is used after seed is applied. 
  • Method: Seed is applied to the entire lawn. Then the verticutter machine is run over the yard creating tiny rows with a slicing motion (rather than a punching motion of the aerator), essentially “cutting” the seed into the soil. Fertilizer is applied over the lawn and it is watered.
  • Best for: Lawns that have a springy feel like an extra-thick carpet pad which signals a need for dethatching. Established lawns that need maintaining and reseeding.
  • Lawn Challenges Solved: Thatch buildup — a layer of old, dead grass, debris and roots at the base of the grass blades. Over time, this layer blocks fertilizer, water and air from the roots, can lead to lawn diseases and kill the grass. Resulting Look: Verticutting will provide a more immediate, even look to a new seed job.

Find Out Which Is Best For Your Lawn Today

When you’re not sure whether you should be verticutting your lawn or aerating & overseeding the lawn to achieve your thickest, greenest yard, call the Pros at Ryan Lawn & Tree! We have full-time experts at every location throughout the Midwest including St. Louis, Kansas City, Wichita, Springfield and Tulsa, who will visit your home and offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your lawn. Call us today at 855.216.2293 and schedule your visit today and plan to have the best-looking lawn on the block come early summer!