A beautiful, lush lawn is a good point in the overall curb appeal of your home. If you want to keep your grounds attractive, fundamental lawn care routines must be performed regularly – mowing, applying fertilizer, and watering.
It is essential to make sure that the nutrients go straight to the soil under the grass. With this in mind, aeration is the key to achieving a vigorous lawn since it enables air and water to infiltrate built-up grass or lawn thatch.
What Is Aeration of Your Lawn?
Aeration is a process that involves piercing the soil with miniature holes to enable air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots. It helps the roots develop deeply while creating a healthier-looking lawn.
The primary purpose of aeration is to make the soil compaction less dense. Once the soil is compacted, it contains too many solidified particles in a particular space or volume. It prevents adequate circulation of water, air, and nutrients. When there is significant lawn thatch or dense organic fragments below the grass, it can deplete these vital elements’ roots.
Most homeowners out there are wondering how to decide if there is a need to aerate their lawn. Your lawn needs aeration if the following are factors are present:
- Under continuous use, such as functioning as the community playground. When pets and children run around the yard, it contributes to further compaction of the soil.
- Suppose your lawn was created as a section of a newly constructed house. In such instances, the topsoil of freshly formed lawns is exposed or submerged, while the construction traffic has compressed the subsoil’s grass.
- It quickly dries up and has a spongy feel. It merely means that your lawn has a significant thatch problem. You can use a shovel and remove a section of the grounds around four inches deep. If the thatch layer measures over a one-half inch, you need to aerate the lawn.
- Suppose the lawn was started by sod along with soil layering. It is important to note that soil layering means that the soil with a smaller texture is layered over the current grainier ground. The layer can affect the drainage since water is retained in the finer-textured soil.
It can lead to compaction and low development of the roots. It helps break down the layering with aeration, enabling water to penetrate through the soil effortlessly and reach the roots.
Why It Is Important to Aerate Your Lawn?
For severely compacted soil, aeration is the best solution. The earth can become compressed due to heavy foot traffic or when the grass is planted on a soil base that is loaded with clay.
Aeration is rarely necessary if the soil has a sandy consistency. In case your property has a type of soil and conditions that necessitate aeration, it can be done once every year. Remember that it will not cause any harm to your lawn. It will make it healthier and more attractive in the long run.
Aside from allowing better penetration of water, aeration has other benefits that I will share:
- Revitalizes the roots of the grass and stimulates better growth
- Lessens thatch buildup
- Promotes better movement of water and nutrients through the soil and smoothens out bumpy surfaces
- Helps with weed control
- Aeration is essential if you are attempting to establish a new lawn.
Are There Negative Effects When You Aerate Your Lawn?
As I have shared earlier, there does not seem to be any adverse effects of aeration on the lawn.
How to Aerate Your Lawn?
Before you are going to aerate your lawn, you should fully understand how the process works. Let us take a look first at some of the essential elements to consider while aerating.
- Type of grass. The initial step to aerating is to determine the variety of grass that grows on it. The type of grass will serve as a basis on the right time to aerate. Whether your grass is warm-season or cool-season, you can plan when to aerate your lawn.
- Lawn habits. If children play on the lawn most of the time or drive over it, I suggest doing aeration every year to avoid significant soil compaction.
- Additionally, if you recently spread grass seed on the lawn, there is no need to aerate the soil. It would be best if you waited for up to a year so the seeds will germinate and establish strong roots. Do not forget to check the depth of the roots. If the depth of the roots is less than 2 inches, you can perform aeration. Use a small shovel to check the depth.
- You are using the right manual aerator. You should also choose the type of manual aerator to use, whether a core or spike aerator. Depending on your preferences, select a device that works well for you. A fork will also work for the procedure.
- Lawn preparation. Before starting the aeration process, make sure that you will prepare your lawn. The practices you need to tackle include raking any debris, sticks, and leaves off the property. I suggest mowing the lawn for easier penetration. If sprinklers are present, you should turn them off before aerating.
- Moisture level. You should also check the moisture level of the soil. For soft, moist dirt, you can use manual tools. Do not forget to water the lawn before doing this procedure.
- Prioritize the sensitive areas. If certain parts of the lawn are subject to more traffic than others, you should pay close attention to these areas. You can go over these high-traffic areas twice to get the best results.
When using an aerating machine, use one with hollow, metal tines that can pierce the earth and pull up plugs of soil from the lawn. You make the process easier by watering the lawn one to two days before aerating.
The tines of the aerator will penetrate the lawn around 2 inches deep. You should guide your aerator across the lawn in at least two different directions. The plugs taken from the lawn will break down after a few weeks, depending on the weather, so that you can leave them on the ground. You can also distribute compost or soil mix to seal the holes. Additionally, you can add fertilizer or seeds at this point.
Manual Aeration Methods
There are also manual aeration methods that can provide good results. Although the manual techniques might not be as effective as the machine, they can give good results. Additionally, the tools are affordable. The process can be laborious, especially if you have an expansive lawn, but that is the only drawback.
Let’s check out the hand aeration methods here:
- Hand Operated Core Aerator. If you want the best results with a manual approach, use a manual core aerator. It is a tool with a handle and a foot bar. Hold the handle with both hands and drive it into the soil. If the soil is too compacted, the foot bar serves as extra leverage. The tool works best in moist soil and can aerate your lawn by penetrating sharp cylinders and removing small plugs.
- Manual Spike Aerator. The tool works similarly to the core aerator but with the help of several spikes. It works by driving miniature holes into the lawn to slacken the soil for easy water penetration, air, and nutrients.
- Fork. A fork is a handy tool to aerate your lawn, which works in the same way as a spike aerator. It can effectively penetrate compacted soil to loosen the particles. Alas, bear in mind that the process can be time-consuming and tedious if you have a sweeping lawn.
Best Time to Aerate Your Lawn
The time of the year you will aerate your lawn is essential. The best time to start aeration is once the grass grows and repairs itself once certain areas become open or damaged if soil plugs are removed. It merely means that you should aerate during the growing season. Take note that this depends on your geographical location.
Growing early during Spring and Fall months is the cool-season grass, while warm-season grass thrives best in the late months of Spring or early Summer. Remember that these are the recommended times to perform aeration.
In case you tackle your lawn during the incorrect season, it will not be beneficial on your lawn but also likely to cause more issues. If you want to improve your lawn, it requires patience and proper planning.
A rule of thumb that I will share is to perform aeration every year or two; however, if your lawn is in good shape, you can do it less frequently.
Depending on the aeration method you will choose, you can handle the task yourself or hire a professional.
If you have an expansive lawn and have the budget, hiring a landscaping company to aerate your lawn might be the right choice. Those who have a smaller lot and do not mind putting some effort can rent an aerator machine or use one of the manual tools.
Like with any lawn maintenance routine, you should pay close attention to your lawn’s needs and stay proactive at all times. Regular maintenance and aeration will help save money and keep your lawn attractive in the long run.
Edited by Patricia Godwin