Almost every lawn can benefit from aeration. For some, the need is more obvious. As we go from summer to fall, it's the perfect time to consider aerating and its benefits. If this is a new term for you, let us explain.
Aeration or core aeration is basically perforating the soil as well as the thatch covering soil. Little plugs are taken out of the soil and deposited on top of turf. The result is holes in your soil which allow for air, water, and nutrients to get down into the roots. Essentially it's breaking up soil to let grass roots naturally grow deeper and thicker. As we've said many times, a deep healthy root system is your best defense against weeds, insects, and disease.
Is your lawn in need of aeration?
-Is the lawn having a hard time absorbing water or do you have drainage problems? If you notice that rain (water) just sits on your lawn after a rain and doesn't seep down quickly, this is a great sign that you need to aerate.
-Is your lawn subjected to heavy foot traffic, playing, or do cars frequently drive or park on the grass? Heavy traffic from feet and cars can compact soil and lead to increased weeds, poor drainage, and overall diminished turf health. Aerating at least once per year is a great way to combat this problem and keep your grass looking great!
-Was your home built on a less than ideal mix of clay and soil? Aerating a relatively new lawn is a great way to build turf strength. NOTE: If this is the case, be sure to wait 3-6 months (depending on weather and grass variety) to aerate a new lawn. Just make sure the sod is rooted down; aerating too early may do more damage than good.
-Do you notice that your lawn doesn't quite green up after you fertilize or does it brown easily? Over time, as soil gets compacted and grass roots become shallow, fertilizer becomes effective for only short periods of time. Aerating opens up the ground allowing the fertilizer you do use to be as effective as possible. Aerating also allows for water to easily get down into the root system. This not only will strengthen roots, but will also give grass some much needed stamina against drought and the stresses that come with little rain fall.
-Do you have bare spots in your lawn? Aeration paired with over-seeding is a killer (in a good way) combination! First, aerating opens up the ground for air, water, and nutrients to get down to roots. Next, those little holes created are the perfect little nest for seeds to get down into and grow. Fall is the perfect time to do this. The shorter days and cooler nights are ideal for over seeding.
Now that you're on board with aerating, what's next?
So, you answered yes to one or more of the questions above. Let's talk about WHEN to aerate. Spring and fall are both great times to aerate. But we believe if you're only going to do it once per year, fall is the optimal time, specifically September through October. You can aerate in the spring, but it will affect your pre-emergent treatment that you also put down in the spring. In the fall, you'll get better dirt plugs, the holes will more than likely stay open longer, and a good aeration will help winterize your lawn! Other added benefits are combining aeration with over-seeding and fertilization in the fall.
A few helpful tips for the DIYer:
-Aerating machines are available for rent. But you can opt to use manual tools such as a pitch fork or aerating shoes equipped with spikes.
-Be sure to water your lawn the night before. A good soaking will soften soil and make it a bit easier. Don't aerate right after watering, you'll run the risk of making your lawn a muddy mess.
-Mark where your sprinkler heads are. You don't want to damage your sprinkler system. As long as your sprinkler lines are more than 3 inches below the ground, they should be safe.
-Be careful! Read the manual if you choose to rent a machine. At the very least, make sure you know how to stop it in a hurry and how to raise and lower the tines (what make the holes).
-Give extra attention to high traffic areas. This is where you'll find that soil is more compacted and the benefits of aeration will be greater here.
If all of this sounds too complicated, give Pure Green a call! Our expert aerators can evaluate your lawn and give you peace of mind that your lawn is taken care of. Contact us today for a free estimate.