"If you want a thing done well, do it yourself. "
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Who wouldn’t want an immaculate lawn? To achieve that with all its perfection, you’d definitely want the soil of your lawn to absorb essential nutrients in appropriate amounts – what we call ‘aeration’. Besides the primary practices like mowing, watering, or fertilizing, aeration is key to achieving the perfect lawn as it enables the flow of air and water into your lawn.
What is Aeration?
Aeration is mainly creating tiny holes in the soil to get water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the grassroots. It is a process that aids the roots to grow deeper into the soil.
The need for essentials for healthier turf growth is no secret. Due to aeration, you create a much healthier lawn by reducing soil compaction for the better. The congestion of solid soil particles inhibits the flow of air, water, and nutrients, and the soil gets devoid of its essentials. This is where aeration comes in and saves your lawn!
Even in complex situations involving heat or lack of rainfall, lawn grasses thin slowly and gradually die due to a shortage of air, water, and nutrients that are present right next to them. Conducting a simple aeration session can make it much better for them by opening the flow of the essentials.
Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn?
Deciding whether an individual lawn needs aeration is a completely different debate. You should be aerating your lawn if:
- It was established alongside your newly built residence. It’s common to have the topsoil of recently made lawns buried or stripped, and the construction traffic impacts the grass on the subsoil.
- It has an intensive thatch issue. If your lawn feels spongy, it is a key indicator that your lawn needs to be aerated. The lawn needs to be cut deep about 3-4 inches with a shovel. If you see that the thatch is greater than a half-inch, your lawn has a thatch problem. and you need to fix it by aeration.
- It’s used frequently for different activities like children playing or pets running around. These compact the soil even more, and aeration becomes a must.
- Soil layering exists there. Layering inhibits the flow of water as it holds water in the finer textures only. Aerate your lawn to nullify the layers and allow water to flow freely into the soil and gradually into the roots.
How to Aerate?
If you conclude that your lawn does need aeration, here are some tips to get familiar with the process of how to aerate your lawn:
- Your soil must be moist enough to aerate. Dry soil is excruciating to aerate. On this note, choose a day after the day you’ve watered your lawn or it’s experienced a steady rainfall to aerate. You’ll not be bothered too much by the moisture.
- Keep in mind that you need to aerate the compacted areas of the soil the most as they’re your prime targets. So, make numerous passes over those selective regions and leave the other parts. This way, you will save your valuable resources and energy.
- Allow the soil plugs to dry up to make sure your lawn has a decent appearance. Use a lawnmower or the back of a rake to break them up too, and remember to sharpen the blade of your mower after you’re done!
- Using pre-emergent herbicides on your lawn will not really help to remove the herbicide barrier. It’s a myth, and proper studies conclude that aeration has no impact on weed prevention or crabgrass control.
- Don’t forget to mow, fertilize, and water after aeration because they’re your core lawn practices.
There are three primary kinds of aerating equipment:
- Spike aerators: As the name suggests, spike aerators have a solid spike to make a hole into the soil. It’s even a common sight to see homeowners wear spiked aerator sandals while completing their lawn work. If not used properly, spike aerators can make soil compaction even worse, so be aware.
- Slicing aerators: They primarily depend on rotating blades that cut through grass and even thatch into the soil. This process does not make a change to the soil but allows nutrients, air, and water to flow without any sort of extra compaction.
- Core or plug aerators: They are chosen by certified lawn professionals. Core aerators make use of hollow tine rows to eliminate soil plugs from the lawn and break them down by keeping them on top. And based on the machine being used, plug sizes and holes differ in width and depth.
Choose to hire a professional lawn service to do the aeration, or do it on your own. You can rent aeration equipment from a bunch of rental companies, according to your preferences. They give out instruction manuals for the chosen model, so don’t worry about learning how to use the equipment.
When Do You Aerate?
Although aeration is undoubtedly good for healthy lawns, if it’s timed inappropriately, it can prove to be a curse for the entire lawn. Dormant lawns are off-limits for aeration. For most common lawn projects, aerate right before your grasses are on their peak for natural growth. If done so, grasses fill in the regions where the aerator equipment exposes the soil.
Early fall or early spring for cool-season grasses and late spring or very early summer for warm-season grasses are the optimum horizons for aeration.
And as discussed before, the moisture of your soil plays a big role in easing aeration. Make sure your soil is moist enough due to either irrigation or rainfall from the day before. Dry soils are extremely difficult to aerate, whereas extra wet lawns shouldn’t be aerated on the go. So, make aeration easy by starting the process just when the moisture is perfect.
Maintaining a thicker, healthier, and lush lawn is mostly about regular and simple lawn maintenance practices. But an annual job like aeration, if done appropriately and according to plan, lets the lawn breathe. Aeration eases soil compaction and boosts the essential growth of the roots of the grass.