A lush, beautiful lawn requires good lawn care to enable grass to grow strong and healthy. Lawn care and mowing services, like feeding, weeding, and mowing are the obvious necessities, but aeration is equally important for growing the best lawn. As part of a good lawn maintenance program, aeration is essential, as it helps a homeowner get the most from all the time and effort put into their yards. Following are a few tips regarding aeration, and why it is essential for the healthiest, most attractive lawn possible!
Lawn Aeration – What Is It?
Lawn aeration, or more technically soil aeration, is the process of puncturing the soil with an aerating machine, not a lawn mower, to make small holes that allow more oxygen, water, and nutrients into the soil and down to the grassroots. Lawn aerators are available in two different types: 1) spike aerators, made with solid tines like those on a pitchfork; and, 2) plug aerators, made with hollow tines. Plug aerators lift out small plugs of soil which then get dropped onto the surface.
Of the two varieties, plug aerators are more preferable, as the removed soil plugs aerate without further compressing the soil. Spike aerators can actually compress soil even more while making holes, so they are not preferable in conditions where the soil is already compressed and packed hard.
Why Aerate Your Lawn?
Most lawns require periodic aeration to promote the best health and lawn maintenance. Aeration decompresses overly compacted soil, providing room for oxygen and nutrients to get closer to the roots. Lawns with areas of hard packed soil, where grass does not survive well; sod lawns; lawns that are grown over new construction sites; and lawns that dry out quickly are all examples of lawns and soil that could benefit from aeration. Through aeration, not only can water, air, and nutrients get closer to the roots, but roots also gain more space to spread out and grow, creating a stronger, healthier lawn.
Sod lawns root deeper into the lower soil layers, and lawns that dry out too quickly will have the ability to absorb more water, more deeply, after aeration. The benefits are many, and most lawn care services agree that most yards benefit in some way from periodic aeration as part of regular lawn care.
When Should Aeration Be Done?
The best time to aerate is any time the grass is actively growing, since the purpose of aerating is to provide more room, air, and nutrition for the roots. In most climates, this means spring and early summer, and late summer and fall – as long as a lawn is not dormant due to drought or high heat.
Best Methods for Aerating
For the best results, aerate lawns after it has recently rained, or any time the soil is still somewhat soft and damp, since trying to aerate soil that is hard and dry is extremely difficult. Make multiple passes with the aerator over the worst areas to ensure good coverage. Water and feed lawns after aeration, keep them well watered, and use the lawn mower as required.
After aerating with a plug aerator, let the plugs dry out, then break them up on the lawn surface so the soil forms a thin layer that eventually filters back through the grass and to the surface. This can be done by breaking them up with the head of a rake, or during lawn mowing with a mulching mower. Mulching to break up dirt plugs may require the mower blade to be sharpened afterward in order to mow cleanly again.
For the healthiest lawn, with strong roots and healthy plants that are thick and strong, be sure to include routine aeration as part of every lawn maintenance program. Homeowners who are not comfortable performing aeration themselves can have this service done professionally, by contacting their local lawn maintenance company. Even lawns that receive the best lawn care and mowing services can still benefit from the process of aeration!