How To Aerate The Soil Around Trees | Aerating Your Trees

How to Aerate Soil Around Trees

You’ve heard of aerating your lawn. Now, prepare for aerating the soil around your trees! As Fort Myers’s certified arborists, our team at Island Tree Service loves to educate others about proper tree care.

Part of comprehensive tree care involves learning how to aerate soil around trees. Discover how and why you should do it below!

What Is Soil Aeration?

Soil aeration is a plant care technique that addresses soil compaction and improves access to nutrients within the soil. Many property owners only aerate their lawns to improve the quality of their grass. But soil aeration benefits all plants including trees!  

Should You Aerate Soil Around Trees?

You should definitely aerate the soil around your trees if you want to provide optimal tree care. Increased access to water is just one benefit of soil aeration. This practice also:

  • Improves soil airflow
  • Prevents soil compaction 
  • Improves accessibility of micro and macro-nutrients within the soil
  • Ensures even disbursement of fertilizer

These amazing benefits lead to happy, healthy plants of all varieties. You can tell that soil needs aeration when wet soils are limited to the top layers of dirt. This means the water can’t penetrate deeper layers, which can damage a tree’s roots.  

how to aerate soil around trees

How to Aerate Soil Around Trees

Learning how to aerate soil around trees is easy. Just choose one of the following aeration methods. Then, you can rest assured that the water and fertilizer you provide will get to your tree’s roots rather than spreading out without penetrating the soil. 

Plug Aeration

A plug aerator is a piece of heavy equipment you can attach to lawnmowers, tractors, or other vehicles. A plug aerator features a large cylindrical tool supported by two wheels. The cylinder has numerous hollow spikes poking out of it.

As you drive a suitable vehicle, you’ll haul the aerator behind you. The aerator will rotate as you move, placing evenly dispersed holes in the ground. This method is the simplest and most efficient of the two.   

Spike Aeration

Spike aeration is a more manual and physically demanding method. You can do it in numerous ways. Choose one of the following tools:

  • Pitchfork
  • Aerator shoes
  • Hand-operated roller

Move your chosen tool across the area surrounding the tree. Although spike aeration requires more physical effort, it may cost less than plug aeration. 

Final Step: Fertilization

After thoroughly aerating your soil, you can apply a suitable fertilizer to your trees. Your trees will absorb nutrients more efficiently. You’ll enjoy the fruits of your efforts throughout the growing season with vibrant blooms and plentiful foliage. 


Use care when fertilizing seedlings. They have sensitive root systems that can suffer from burn injuries when exposed to high nitrogen levels. Choose a quick-release product and cut the recommended amount in half unless the directions specify measurements for saplings. 

Juvenile Trees

Like other living things, trees hit an awkward stage where they’ve surpassed their immature stage. However, they aren’t quite grown either. These juvenile trees grow in leaps and bounds, requiring twice annual fertilization at full doses. 

Mature Trees

Mature trees have already established their root systems deep within the ground. While they don’t require fertilizer, they can benefit from its supplemental nutrients. Fertilize them each spring before leaf growth kicks off. 

Island Tree Service Can Assist You in Keeping Your Trees Healthy

Learn more about how to aerate soil around trees and discover the best type of soil for trees with a tree health assessment from Island Tree Service. Our health assessments ensure your tree’s overall health and identify any potential health risks. Schedule your assessment by calling (239) 463-5121 today.

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