Aeration should be a part of your basic lawn care protocol. Along with mowing, weed control, watering, and lawn fertilization.
When incorporated, aerating your lawn benefit you to the furthest possible extent and provide the best opportunity for a lush, green lawn to thrive.
There are some specific reasons why we aerate our lawns, and in some situations, this step is essential, necessary, and can make a great deal of difference in your lawn’s presentation.
After all, a lawn is a homeowner’s first impression to the outside world. Putting your best foot forward should be taken seriously.
Thatch is not a bad component of a lawn. Think of thatch as an essential layer of living and non-living organic material that lies beneath the surface.
A thin layer of thatch is great for turfgrass. Too much thatch can cause problems. The ideal amount of thatch that will benefit your lawn should be about a half inch.
Excess build-up of thatch can cause a few different unfavorable conditions. For one, your fertilizer will not be applied directly, as intended, and can burn up before releasing the nutrients into the soil.
Another unfortunate consequence of overrun thatch is that water will excessively build up. It will fail to properly drain or soak into the soil, and could contribute to disease or fungal outbreaks.
In addition to alleviating all those problems, aeration allows air to properly circulate. Nutrients and water are able to make contact with the soil.
When this happens, your grass root system develops deeper and spreads through less compacted soil more easily. Aeration will help break up the thatch, so that you do not have too much.
Should I aerate?
You’ve probably asked yourself before? Is it really necessary for me to aerate my lawn? The fact of the matter is that all lawns will benefit from aeration, but lawns do not require it to survive.
When and where to aerate
The best time to incorporate this step in lawn care is during the growing season, no matter what type of grass you’ve planted or sod you have laid out. The reason is that this is the most important time to make sure your grass has the proper nutrients, water accessibility, and proper soil to establish in.
One of the aeration goals is the break up the soil a bit so that it’s not too compacted. This way the roots will grow healthy and strong.
Overtime all soil gets compacted from things like, foot traffic and weather conditions. If you’ve recently laid out sod, or maybe you just moved into a newly constructed home, you might discover compacted soil too.
If your lawn/thatch layer seems to dry out quickly and/or feels spongy, it is most likely too thick. Aeration will help with this and break up the thatch so that proper air and water flow can reach your grass root system.
How to aerate
There are two schools of aeration. One is a simple poke and prod, done with a spike aerator. While this is simple, easy, and might be the most appropriate process given your current circumstances, there is a more involved option.
The more involved option is called plug aeration and this should be part of your aeration protocol, maybe not currently, but eventually. Core aeration is one of the services we provide at JC’s Landscaping.
The spike aeration is just going to poke holes, is less invasive, and therefore less impactful. With plug aeration, you use a machine that removes a plug of grass and soil.
The depth will be somewhere between 2-3” deep and .5-.75” in diameter. It’s very similar to a core sample, to give a commonly understood frame of reference.
With either method, you’ll want to start with a freshly watered lawn, hard soil is going to make both processes more arduous. With the plug aerator, you’ll want to make multiple passes, making sure the process is applied throughout your entire lawn.
No need to retrieve the cores of soil and grass, sharpen your mower blades and return that organic material where it’s come from. It will continue to serve your lawn.
An added benefit of using the core aeration is that just poking holes very rarely alleviates soil compaction. It can sometimes end up adding more compaction.
As you can see, aeration could be a huge difference maker in the presentation and health of your lawn. Unevenly compacted soil will lead to inconsistent root development.
Thick thatch can lead to disease, fungal outbreaks, and even end up strangling your grass as it emerges from the soil. When you aerate your lawn, you will see a healthy, vibrant lawn much faster.