Have you really looked at your lawn lately and noticed it just doesn’t look very healthy? You are probably pondering about what could be going on and what could be causing this issue. If, after you have checked for insects, worms, disease, improper watering and know that your lawn is properly fertilized, you might consider aerating your lawn. Aerating my lawn? What is aerating and why should I do it?
Aerating is the process of inserting holes in your lawn for better water absorption, nutrient absorption and helping in the process of eliminating thatch. The problem starts when the top four inches of soil becomes extremely hard and compact. Like when your trash can is full and you smash it down to make more room.
Eventually you run out of room and there is no place else for the trash to go. Well this is working on the same concept of compaction. The water and nutrients can not penetrate the soil. The thatch from lawn mowing, instead of being decomposed and returned to the earth will just sit there inviting molds, mildews, disease and unwanted insects.
Aerating also enhances oxygen levels to your soil thus stimulating root growth and speeding up the decomposition of the thatch decomposing organisms. In removing the plugs of soil from your lawn this process severs roots, rhizomes and stolons. The affects of this stimulate your grass to produce new shoots and roots that will fill in the holes and increase the density of your lawn. It also increases your lawns drought tolerance and you should be able to see an overall improvement in your lawns health.
The type of grass you have will pretty much dictate when to aerate and how deep to make your holes. If you have a lawn type that is composed of cool-season grasses, it is best to aerate in the fall when there is a better chance of heat stress and the invasion of weeds. You should allow at least four weeks of good growing weather for your lawn to recover. If you lawn type that is composed of warm-season grass, aeration should take place in spring or summer when the grass is actively growing.
When aerating your lawn, it is best to aerate on a day where the temperatures are milder and the soil in a moist condition, which will make the aerating process much easier. Aerating wet soil can be a real nuisance due to the fact that the plugs will get stuck in the hollow tines and can further compact you soil.
How often should I aerate my lawn? There is no real determination time for this question. The best way to find out if your lawn needs to be aerated is to do a small test of your soil. A very simple way to make that determination is to take a screwdriver and insert it into the soil. If insertion is fairly easy your soil should be just fine. If insertion is difficult, it is probably time to aerate.
You might only need to do a small area in your yard or possibly a large area. If you only do a small area, you can use a spading fork for the job to insert holes into the soil. Although this is not really the recommended way to aerate because it only forces the soil particles around the hole closer together causing more compaction. It will kind of work, but you will not get the desired affect you are hoping to achieve. So it is recommended that you purchase a sod-coring tool from your local home improvement store. These are not very expensive and they do a lot better job.
For larger areas you will have to use an actual aerator. Since this is an item that you really will not use very often, you can rent one from a local lawn and garden center or there are many other equipment rental businesses that more than likely will have aerator available for rent.
Your penetration depth will depend on the type of soil you have, the moisture levels of your soil, and the tine diameter, weight and power of the aerator. You can contact a local landscaper or garden center for the specific specifications for you soil type. You should also leave the soil plugs on the lawn. Rain and traffic will eventually break the up the plugs. The plugs are actually very beneficial as they contain microorganisms that help to decompose any layers of thatch that are present.
This is the basics of why you should aerate you lawn and the benefits of aeration. Once you have decided to aerate and see the end results, you will be glad you did. If you would like more detailed information on aeration you can do some research on the web or you can contact your local greenhouse or garden and they would be more than willing to give you advice and assistance.
Enjoy your almost new lawn.