Aeration is an important step to maintaining a beautiful lawn. It allows for proper water absorption and reduces run-off. Aeration also allows for nutrients to reach the roots of your grass. Compacted soil is very stressful to lawns and makes grass less able to compete with weeds.
To determine if your grass needs to be aerated, perform this simple test. On a day when the grass is slightly damp, take a screwdriver into the yard and push it into the ground. If it is difficult to push, you need to aerate. If it goes through easily, you likely do not need to aerate. Aerating is generally done in either the spring or the fall. If you determine that it is time to aerate you can either hire a professional to do it for you, or you can do it yourself.
Different methods of aerating can be found at any local garden store or home improvement store. Machines are also available for rent. These are usually about the size of a lawn mower and can easily be transported by two people. Aeration should be done when the soil is slightly damp, not dry or saturated.
Before aerating make sure you mark your sprinkler heads with flags and know where your drip irrigation is located. Do not aerate in areas where you have drip irrigation installed.