Many Iowa lawn care companies are advertising a fall service called aeration, where they roll a big machine across your yard that pokes holes into the soil and pops out plugs of dirt.

Adam Thoms, a horticulture professor at Iowa State University and a turfgrass extension specialist, says it’s a good investment to have your lawn aerated sometime in the next several weeks.

“It reduces the compaction which is important from being out on the yard over the summer. It also improves soil health, allowing air and oxygen down to the roots and that’ll produce deeper rooted plants, and next year, your plants should stay greener, longer during the dry periods,” Thoms says. “Also, aeration can really help with water infiltration into the soil so it’ll allow more moisture into the soil.”

For the do-it-yourselfers, Thoms says you can aerate your own lawn, but it will entail a bit more effort than walking back and forth wearing spiked golf shoes. “A lot of the home improvement stores have aerators you can rent,” Thoms says, “if you’re willing and ready to run with the machine because they move pretty quick. They’re heavy, but you’re more than able to do it. Just go back and forth across your yard several different directions to try to poke as many holes as you can.”

Another service lawn care companies may be offering now is to overseed your yard, which Thoms says is also something you can do yourself pretty easily. “Overseeding is just adding a little bit of seed, a real light rate of grass seed to your yard. It’s beneficial in areas where it’s died out maybe because of the drought that we had this summer in some parts of the state,” Thoms says. “That’ll help it germinate and fill back in. The other thing you can do if you don’t want to overseed it is just fertilize it, and that will help fill in those areas as well.”

We’ll soon have to deal with the chore of raking leaves. Thoms suggests it may be healthier for your lawn to run the mower back and forth to mulch the leaves into tiny bits to return the nutrients to the soil, instead of raking the leaves up and bagging them.

Radio Iowa