If there is a tonic for lawns, it's core aeration. This is about the closest that you can get to cultivation without totally digging up your lawn. By pulling plugs of soil out of your lawn, core aeration helps to improve the flow of air, water and fertilizer (providing nutrients) to the roots of your lawn.
Although these plugs, or cores, might look a bit unsightly on top of the lawn, just leave them there. They will decompose on their own. These cores of soil contain microorganisms which, when left on the lawn, are beneficial in controlling thatch.
Fall is the preferred time to aerate your lawn with a few exceptions. If your lawn has been undermaintained for a number of years, aeration in the spring will help your lawn to make best use of the nutrients and water that you provide over the growing season.
If you are going to renovate or overseed your lawn in late summer, early fall, core aeration before the seeding process will work to relieve compaction and help to provide seed-soil contact which is necessary for germination.
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