Q: Our lawn has gotten scraggly and we are planning to aerate this fall. When my Dad aerated, he spread construction sand so it would wash into the holes and keep them from closing. Is this a good thing to do?
A: This is a reasonable approach but you need a lot of sand to make it worthwhile. I think you need to spread a quarter-inch of sand over the whole area. That would equal approximately 1.5 tons of dry sand per 1000 square feet. Aerate first, then apply sand evenly and sweep it into the holes with a wide broom. Anything less than a quarter-inch of sand won’t do anything to keep the soil holes open. It’s also important to use a plug aerator that makes good wide holes for the sand to fall into. Repeat the process next year but use screened topsoil instead of sand.