Core Aerator vs Verticutter

What’s the difference between core aeration and verticutting?  Which one should I use on my lawn? We get these same questions from customers every year. During fall overseeding season, there are many different options as to how to prepare your lawn for renovation. Ultimately, the homeowner needs to make the decision based on the condition of their lawn. Understanding the benefits of each will help you make the right choice for your overseeding project.

What is verticutting?

Verticutting is making shallow vertical cuts or slices into the soil. A verticutting machine has many vertical slicing blades. It will cut multiple slits or grooves across its path. The more grooves you have in the soil, the better seed to soil contact. The better seed to soil contact, the better seed germination you will get when overseeding. A verticutter will be the best tool to use for overseeding when you are attempting to get large areas established.

Uncle’s Tip: Use a verticutter for total lawn restorations when the majority of your lawn is a weed patch, dead grass or bare ground. Apply Grass Pad seed first then verticutting the lawn in two directions (recommended for best results) will drill the seed into the grooves made by the verticutter. This practice mimics how a farmer drills his crops into the field.  

What is core aeration?

Core aerating is the process of pulling up cores or plugs of turf and soil from your lawn. The benefits of core aeration are to reduce the bulk density of the soil, improve gas exchange and water infiltration,  which in turn benefits nutrients uptake and strengthens the root system of your grass. Homeowners with thick turf, poor drainage, or heavy soil compaction will benefit from hollow tine core aeration. Core aerators are not the best tool to use for overseeding, but the best method to improve soil conditions to help the grass to grow.

See Related: Soil Builder C20 – Microbial Aeration

Hollow Tine Plug Core

Uncle’s Tip: If your lawn is thick, vigorous and healthy you may not need core aeration. If you should choose to core aerate, run the machine over the lawn multiple directions, to leave two to three-inch spacing between holes. After aerifying,  over seed and fertilize the entire area. 


Areas with hard compacted soil and poor drainage will benefit from a heavy incorporation of PrimeraOne Field Conditioner immediately after aerification to improve soil conditions. PrimeraOne Field Conditioner, calcined clay particles, will drop into aeration holes and soil substructure to improve drainage and trans-locating air to and from the root zone.

When to use a Core Aerator or Verticutter?

When you want to improve soil conditions, use a hollow core aerator. When you want to grow a lot of grass seed, use a verticutter. When you just have a few bare spots, use a rake. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In any case, every fall season, over seed your lawn with Grass Pad quality seed and fertilize with  Loveland Renovator , Golf Course Starter or Loveland Supreme.

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