Should I pick up plugs after aerating?” is a question commonly asked by those who like to do lawn care. The aftermath of the aeration process can be unsightly as the soil plugs are typically scattered all throughout your yard, and we know you want your lawn to look tidy as much as you want it to be healthy.

Advantages of Clearing Aeration Plugs

The answer to this question has been debated. However, if you want to know what most lawn specialists advise lawn owners to do about these plugs, you should read below as we will discuss if we should pick it up after aerating and the other questions related to it.

Should You Pick Up Lawn Plugs After Aerating?

💥 No, you should not pick up lawn plugs after aerating to throw them away, according to lawn care specialists. There are different reasons why your lawn becomes compacted and in need of aeration. It can be due to the weather, constant mowing, or heavy foot traffic.


Soil compaction makes it hard for your grass to get the necessary supplements, such as water, oxygen, and nutrients, which makes your grass wither or die over time. This is where lawn aeration becomes a crucial part of your lawn care. It is very important to know why and when to aerate your lawn in order to keep it fresh and healthy.

Core aeration is done using a core aerator an aeration machine, which separates the soil plugs from the ground to loosen the soil and creates small holes on the ground that serve as a channel through which more oxygen, water, and nutrients can enter the soil. Doing this will immediately result in a healthy lawn.

– Soil Plug Benefits in the Soil

The core aeration process helps the grassroots grow deeply and become stronger and more vigorous. It also improves soil compaction in the long run as it allows the water, air, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the roots by removing the core or the plugs.

Soil Plug Benefits in the Soil

These soil plugs that were pulled up from your lawn and scattered on the surface as you are aerating lawn, while very messy to look at, must not be removed from the lawn entirely because they are actually still beneficial to the soil.

They contribute critical nutrients and microorganisms, so if you remove these soil plugs, you are actually reducing the nutrients and causing stress to the grass, which may result in browning, or worse, it may cause dieback.

After finishing aerating your lawn, allow the soil plugs to dry out where they fall within an average time of one to two weeks. This is considered a short period of time if you will be doing this at a frequency of at least once a year.

However, if your lawn has high clay content or is suffering from severely compacted soil, doing this twice a year is strongly recommended.

The aeration plugs that are full of nutrients will usually break down and be washed back down into the ground naturally after heavy rain or a few watering sessions. They will again become invisible in your yard while restoring every microorganism they contain.

What To Do With Lawn Plugs After Aerating?

As we have mentioned above, do not remove or pick up the core aeration plugs after the aeration process even when you are tempted to do so. As you wait several weeks for them to break down on their own, you can take some steps to help them break down faster and make your lawn tidy as quickly as possible.

If rainfall seems impossible, you can rely on your garden hose to help the soil plugs soften and break down easily by watering your lawn well. Water your newly aerated lawn at least two times per day.

Another option is to mow your lawn. Your lawn mower will crush the plugs and leave them in their place. However, you cannot do this if your lawn was overseeded. You should wait until the seeds have started to sprout before you opt for this method.

Raking is also an alternative to aid the breakdown of soil plugs. Keep in mind that you can use a rake only to disintegrate the plugs and not to remove them from your lawn surface. You can also use a rake when there are plugs scattered on curbs and walkways to let them break down on the lawn soil.

– Core Aeration and Soil Plugs

The importance of aeration has to do with mitigating soil compaction. To keep your lawn in a vigorous condition, your grasses must be provided with a good amount of oxygen, water, and nutrients, but this becomes difficult because of soil compaction. You should also take into consideration using soil supplements such as Greensand or Azomite.

Core Aeration and Soil Plugs

Soil compaction reduces the soil pore volume and decreases water infiltration and drainage, which leads to poor root growth that causes your grass to wither, become thinner, tear, get injured, and even die.

However, there are different types of aeration techniques, such as spike aeration and core aeration, which could help your lawn to overcome compacted soil.

Core aeration is a mechanical method that uses plug aerators or core aerators to extract plugs of soil from the ground. This method is the standard and most effective option that offers your grass sustained and dense growth.

According to most lawn research organizations and professionals, core aeration is an excellent technique to aerate highly compacted soil, which definitely produces the best results as it dramatically reduces compact soil.

This method is the best option for large yards and gardens. This offers a long-term solution. However, you have to endure the unsightly appearance of your lawn for a while because of the soil plugs that were pulled up.

– Spike Aeration

Spike aeration is a manual method of aeration that uses a spike aerator like handheld spike tools and spiked shoes to puncture the ground. This method does not remove any soil from the ground, so you won’t have to worry about messy plugs scattered throughout your lawn. Instead, it pushes the soil further underground.

Spike aeration is recommended for you to be able to access the roots before fertilizing and seeding, and it can also be a quick fix for a mildly compacted lawn.

It is also an inexpensive way to do aeration, but given that this is a manual process, you will need plenty of effort to exert and time to invest before accomplishing the aeration of a certain size of lawn. That is why it is advisable to opt for this method if you will aerate only small lawns and gardens.


To conclude, soil plugs must not be removed or picked up after aerating as they contain nutrients and microorganisms that are helpful to your lawn.

Remember the following key points as part of your lawn care maintenance:

  • It is recommended not to pick up the soil plugs and instead help them to break down faster by watering them.
  • Soil plugs are pieces of soil that were removed from the lawn to allow oxygen, water, and nutrients to move through the soil.
  • The core aeration process is the best type of lawn aeration and a long-term lawn health solution.
  • Core aeration produces the best results for your lawn compared to spike aeration, but these also produce unsightly plugs in your lawn.
  • Aeration is needed to avoid soil compaction, which reduces soil productivity and makes your grass wither.

Sacrificing your lawn aesthetics for a short period of time would be worth your while because these soil plugs are beneficial to your lawn surface. By being patient, you can soon enjoy healthier grass and plants in your aerated lawn!

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