When Lawns Need Aeration
It may not seem your lawn could get compacted, but it happens easier than you may think. Vehicles or small equipment driven on lawns are more obvious offenders, but even outdoor entertaining or yard play by kids and pets can leave all or part of your lawn compacted. If you live where heavy clay soil is the norm, annual aeration is probably needed to keep your lawn from becoming thin and weak.
Dethatching and aerating are two different tasks, but they often go hand in hand. Thatch is the layer of decomposing organic matter that forms right at the lawn surface, between soil and grass. When thatch gets more than 1/2 inch thick, it works like compaction to prevent the flow of air, water and nutrients grasses need. Aggressive spreading grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrassin northern lawns and Bermudagrass down south, form more thatch than many other grass types. Aeration helps penetrate and reduce thatch buildup or prep it for removal through dethatching.
If your grass often looks stressed and your soil is hard to the touch or rainwater puddles up where it used to be absorbed, you may have compaction problems. Confirm your suspicions with a simple “screwdriver test.” Take a regular screwdriver and stick it into your lawn’s soil by hand. It should slide in fairly easily. If you meet resistance, your soil is compacted, and aeration can help.
How To Aerate A Lawn With A Manual Core Aerator
In our opinion, a manual coring aerator is the best way to aerate a lawn by hand. Unlike other manual aeration methods and tools, a core aerator lifts and removes small sections of soil, instead of pushing them to the side. This method reduces the chance of further compaction since the extra soil is completely removed.
To use a manual core aerator, simply grip the handle with both hands and push it into the soil. Most have some type of foot bar for leverage to make it easier to penetrate the dirt.
As you lift upward, the aerator will pull out two cores of soil. You can leave these in the grass they will disintegrate within a week or so and shouldnt disrupt any lawn growth.
Move forward approximately six inches and repeat the process until the entire lawn has been aerated. Its helpful to keep a screwdriver or other small pole handy to clean out the tubes if they get clogged.
Here are a few manual core aerators we recommend:
Photo via Ann’s Entitled Life
Can Dethatching Hurt Your Lawn
Dethatching causes a lot of damage to your grass and should be done at a time when the grass is growing so it can fix the damage before the next dormant period. Warm-season grass can be dethatched in late spring or early summer after it starts to grow. It is best not to do it in the middle or late of summer.
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What Exactly Is Lawn Aeration
Lawn aeration is the process of puncturing the soil with small holes that aid vital elements, such as air and water, to enter the grassroots. This process helps the roots to grow deeply, which in turn produces a stronger and livelier lawn.
The main purpose of lawn aeration is to provide air and breathability to your lawn and the soil underneath it.
Is It Ok To Aerate In The Spring
If you have a warm-season grass, you should aerate now as temperatures start to rise. Aeration is necessary for the growth and health of your lawn. It pokes holes in your grass allowing oxygen, water, and nutrients to get down into the soil. This soil builds a strong foundation for your entire lawn.
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What Does Aeration Do
If your grass looks bad, aeration could be one of the keys to bringing it back to good health. Hardpan soil resists water penetration and deep root development. Some grasses adapt to this condition by forming a dense layer of shallow roots, rhizomes and stolons at the soil surface, better known as thatch.
Aerating the lawn addresses thin and bare spots associated with soil compaction, and helps to correct thatch buildup caused by shallow rooting. Aerating the lawn loosens the soil surface and breaks up the thatch layer, which fosters deeper root development. It also lets water and nutrients penetrate deeper.
Why Do You Need To Aerate Your Lawn
Although there are still many things to be learned about lawn aeration, theres one thing most experts agree on and that is that opening up the turfs surface is beneficial for it. Air and water are essential for the soil ecosystem and the soil microorganisms in it which help naturally break down thatch thus improving the lawn.
Good drainage conditions and adequate topsoil air intake are very important for the proper growth of grassroots as they help them breathe and grow. By aerating the soil, youre permitting air to enter into the soil, which leads to gaseous exchange. Meaning that the grassroots suck in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.
Having too much carbon dioxide in the soil is not good as it can limit or completely prohibit its water and nutrients intake.
However, by thoroughly aerating an area where browning has occurred, you can restore to roots ability to intake moisture again. And if done right your grass colour will return to its regular green in just around a week.
On the other hand, if the lawn is not aerated during the cold rainy seasons such as autumn and winter completely different problems can occur. For example, your soil might experience surface sealing because of the compacting effect of walking around and using garden maintenance machines that are on the heavier side.
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Recycles Nutrients & Improves Microbial Life
Its important to note that while you may think of this service as the one where holes are made throughout the lawn, which is how many homeowners describe it to us, theres more to it than that.
Its also the cores that are pulled from the soil that matter. Thats because these lay in the yard and will breakdown over the next few weeks, recycling nutrients back into the soil.
This also allows more beneficial microorganisms to thrive which can mean your lawn can be more resilient over time.
If You Answered Yes To Most Of These Questions:
Sounds like its time to aerate your lawn. Usually, lawn aeration should occur annually. If your lawn is showing the signs listed above and youve already aerated once this year, your soil may be compacted and require another round. Are you planning to DIY? Heres what you need to know:
- Know your grass type. Aeration should only occur when the grasses are actively growing.
- Rent or purchase an aerating machine.
- Clearly mark sprinkler heads, irrigation lines and other underground lines in your yard that could get damaged during lawn aeration.
- Water the lawn thoroughly the day before.
- Plan to seed and fertilize after core aeration.
- Let the plugs disintegrate into the lawn.
Dont want to get your hands dirty? Call in the experts. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 866.688.6722. Learn more about the benefits of aerating your lawn here.
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When Should I Aerate My Lawn
When you aerate the lawn, many feeder roots are severed and the plants are weakened. Its best done as the grass heads into a strong, rapid growth phase. Aerating too early or late in the year, such as during winter dormancy or summer heat and drought, stresses the grass at a time when it needs to conserve its resources. Poor timing of aeration could open the lawn to weeds, insects, or disease.
The best time to aerate a lawn is at the beginning of its rapid growth phase. For warm season grasses like bermuda grass and zoysia grass, that means shortly after it turns fully green in late spring or early summer. Cool season grasses like tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are best aerated in either early fall or early spring.
Best Times To Aerate Your Lawn
The ideal time to aerate your lawn is during weather periods that will support its recovery. The optimal times for this to happen are during growing seasons, and this is dependent upon the type of grass. Cool-season grass tends to thrive during the cooler temperatures of the spring and fall, whereas warm-season grass usually thrives during the early summer months.
Lawn aeration is best performed at these times because weather during these periods helps to control lawn thatch. It is not necessary to aerate every year if your lawn is healthy and growing well or if you have sandy soil because it does not compact easily. In these cases, aerating every 2-3 years will suffice. When this process is performed more than necessary, it can damage your grass and the subtle balance between growth and dormancy. On the other hand, it is best to aerate every year if you have a heavy traffic lawn or clay soil, which is wet, sticky, and compacts easily. Additionally, lawn aeration is recommended twice a year if you live in harsh climates and/or experience particularly cold, dry winters.
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Better To Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional
So which provides the better value for core aeration, DIY or using a professional lawn care service? Consider the following.
Who will transport the core aeration machine to and from your property? Who will determine whether conditions are favorable to aerate your lawn? Who will ensure the safe and effective operation of the core aeration machine? Who will be responsible for any damage incurred to properly identified obstacles? If applicable. who will be responsible for properly overseeding/reseeding your lawn? If applicable. who will be responsible for properly fertilizing the lawn after aeration is completed?
When properly performed, under favorable conditions and at the appropriate time, core aeration will most assuredly benefit your lawn, whether you do it yourself or bring in a lawn care professional. With that said, if you have questions or concerns about core aeration or any aspect of caring for your lawn, please do not hesitate to contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We have a wealth of professional lawn care experience to share with you.
Sometimes Its Better To Trust A Professional
Being mindful of these seven aeration and overseeding mistakes can certainly help create the beautiful turf you long for, but landscape maintenance can be time-consuming and theres a lot of dos and donts along the way!
A lawn care professional will know the right equipment and understand the needs of your unique property. Our team at Caramanico is here to get the job done right and prepare your turf for vibrant growth for your commercial property. Give us a call at 610.499.1640 or fill out this form to get a free property assessment today.
Properties We Serve: Businesses, Colleges & Universities, High Schools & Elementary Schools, Shopping Centers, Apartments & Condominiums, Retirement Communities, Golf Courses & Country Clubs, Medical Centers, and more!
Service areas: Chester County, Pennsylvania Delaware County, Pennsylvania Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Bucks County, Pennsylvania Hunterdon County, New Jersey Somerset County, New Jersey Mercer County, New Jersey Camden County, New Jersey Gloucester County, New Jersey New Castle County, Delaware
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Signs That Indicate You Need To Aerate Your Lawn
Thatch is comprised of shoots, stems, and roots. This built-up plant material, also referred to as organic debris, is beneficial to the overall health of the lawn, but too much of it can deter healthy lawn growth. A half inch or more of lawn thatch is considered too thick and should be removed since it can also promote insect manifestation and diseases. Furthermore, excess thatch can prevent you from mowing your grass properly because its spongy consistency causes the lawn mower wheels to sink down and scalp your lawn.
Overall, if your lawn does not appear to be growing as well as it should despite seemingly proper care, such as adequate watering, lawn aeration might be the missing key element.
Here are some other indicators that you should aerate.
What Do I Do After I Dethatch My Lawn
After dethatching, seed the lawn and consider topdressing. If youve taken plugs of soil, that soil can be left as a topdressing. But the planty thatch material should be removed. Callahan said the new areas opened by dethatching are a good opportunity to get some fresh seed and new turfgrass into your lawn.
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Breaks Up Thatch In Lawn
Aeration also helps to break up thatch, which is a naturally-occurring, dead organic material that may be building where grass blades emerge at the soil line. This is important as thatch build-up can be another reason why oxygen, water, and nutrients are not penetrating the soil. Thatch can also make your lawn more susceptible to pests and disease.
Should I Aerate My Lawn In The Summer
Warm weather grasses should be aerated when the weather begins to warm. This means that aeration should occur between late spring and through the summer. This means that aeration should occur between late summer and through the fall. Aerating these grasses during the summer heat can put stress the grass.
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Aeration And Overseeding For Cool
Late summer and early fall are the best times typically for aeration and seeding of cool-season grasses. Fall aeration and overseeding for this type of grass are ideal because there is more moisture in the ground, less weed growth, and fewer active diseases targeting grass seedlings.
The climate during these months makes it easier for cool-season grass seed to germinate and grow a strong root system.
Benefits Of Lawn Aeration
Aeration is particularly useful for lawns that undergo a lot of foot traffic. The more a lawn is used, the more compacted the soil becomes.
This significantly reduces the spaces in the soil that would typically hold air.
Due to the decreased flow of air within the soil, compaction can negatively affect root growth. Roots need oxygen from the air to grow and absorb water and nutrients.
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A Double Pass Is Always Ideal
We should also mention that even the way in which professional lawn aeration services will perform this task can differ.
One of the biggest differences is that most lawn aerating services do not perform a double pass on your property . And surely, if youre taking a DIY approach, by the time you get finished a single pass, you probably dont feel like doing it again.
But double pass aeration is going to get you the best results. It means more holes, more cores, and ultimately better results. It helps ensure that youre getting the most for your investment.
Do I Need To Reseed After Dethatching
After dethatching, thatch should be removed and put in the compost pile. If you do not already have a compost pile, then you should seriously consider adding one. After this has been done, high-quality grass seed. This helps the seeds remain moist, and it provides essential nutrients, which enhances germination.
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Common Questions About Lawn Overseeding And Aeration
What is the purpose of overseeding your lawn? Why you should consider investing in a lawn-overseeding service
The most common reasons for overseeding a lawn is to:
- Spread new seed into your lawn in the fall before winter sets in to create a thicker lawn
- Repair areas of damage on your lawn from unusual weather events, pets, and family activities
- Provide a blanket coverage for bare patches
- Add turf variety by adding new grasses such fescue and rye, both great drought-tolerant options and lack invasive growth patterns.
Lawn reseeding is an excellent option for those who want a quick turnaround on their lawn. Just a few weeks after the service is completed, your grass will be healthier and greener than ever before. In addition, you will save time by not having to wait for months to see results from traditional yard care treatments.
What is the purpose, and what are the benefits of aerating your lawn?
Aerating the lawn is done when the soil in your yard is compacted or has thatch build-up. Aeration aims to break up these compacted zones that block air, water, and nutrients from reaching the grassroots. This will promote healthier growing conditions for your lawn, reduce weeds, and prevent insect infestations by improving root system functionality. A healthy soil ecosystem will also allow microorganisms access to plant roots they need to function properly, which can help stop plant diseases before they start.
Aeration benefits include:
Choosing The Best Lawn Aeration Service
Now that you understand the value of this service, you probably dont want to settle for anything less than the best. And you shouldnt have to! You deserve to get the fantastic lawn that youre looking for.
At Master Lawn, double pass aeration and overseeding are included in our Gold and Platinum lawn care programs. It can also be added to our Silver program or purchased as a stand-alone service. We believe its truly one of the most important services you can be doing for your lawn and that youll be thrilled with the results.
Dont get stuck with a lawn that falls short of your expectations. By choosing Master Lawn, youll be on your way to the lawn that you desire.
Ready to have a lawn that you love at your Tennessee or Northern Mississippi home? Talk to a lawn care expert, choose from 3 program options, and become the master of your lawn.
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Should You Rake Out Dead Grass
Raking for New Growth Dead grass should be raked away, but it wont stimulate growth, because if the grass is completely dead all the way to the roots, it cant produce new growth and the bare patch will remain. To fill in the bare spot, youll have to prepare the area for reseeding or laying new sod.