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When Should You Aerate Your Lawn

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Is Dethatching Good For The Lawn

How and When to Aerate Your Lawn

Lawn dethatching can be crucial to keeping your grass and soil healthy. Even if you are mowing and doing everything else necessary for your lawn, thatch can build up. Detaching removes the thick layer of dead plant material . This allows air, water, and nutrients to reach your plants and soil again.

When And How Often To Aerate Your Lawn

This depends on your type of soil. If your lawn is growing on sandy soil, youll only need to aerate it once a year during springtime. If you have clay soil, you can aerate your lawn 2-3 times per year.

Aerate during fall to give the thatch plugs enough time to decompose over the winter period, leaving behind all the nutrients for better growth come spring.

You can also aerate the ground just before your lawn soil temperature reaches 55 F in the spring. This will make it easier to put down a good weed pre-emergent to help control weeds such as crabgrass in your lawn.

Warm Versus Cool Season Grass

The main difference between warm season and cool season grass is that each type exhibits active growth at different times. In most parts of the U.S., warm season grasses grow actively between April and October. Warm season grasses are heat and drought tolerant, making them ideal for warmer climates. During the cooler months, most warm season grasses will go dormant, turning brown or yellow until the warmer temperatures return. Cool season grasses, on the other hand, are ideal for areas that experience both hot summers and freezing winters. These grasses grow most actively in the spring and fall, when temperatures are moderate, and may go dormant in the hottest months. You can see a full list of warm and cool season grass varieties by visiting this link.

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How To Know If Your Soil Is Compacted

As long as you know what to look for, its relatively easy to detect when your soil is compacted. Here are the tell-tale signs:

  • Bare spots and areas with patchy, unhealthy looking grass. When water and oxygen cant reach the roots, grass cant grow.
  • Rock hard soil that you can barely penetrate with a pitchfork.
  • Puddling.
  • Water running down from high areas is a sign that your lawn is not absorbing water.
  • The Soil has a reddish tint. This is a sign of soil with high clay content, which tends to become compacted.
  • Plants with stunted growth and trees with shallow roots.
  • If your lawn doubles as a playground for kids or pets, theres a good chance the soil is compacted.

If your grass is thick, green, and healthy, and none of these signs are present, the soil is likely in good shape. If this is the case, stick to an annual aeration schedule until conditions change.

When Lawns Need Aeration

How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

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.

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Why Aerate Your Lawn

I have already mentioned one of the primary reasons why you should aerate your lawn. Aerating your lawn removes solid particles from the soil and allows soil nutrients to penetrate the root of your grass.

Other reasons why you aerate your lawn include

  • If you use your lawn as a playfield for children and pets, there is a considerable possibility of the soil becoming compacted and solid materials pressed into the ground during the running around. Aeration is needed for such a lawn to grow healthier.
  • Does your lawn dry out and absolves water easily. This could be as a result of an accumulation of excessive thatch. Using a shovel, remove a portion of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is larger than one-half inch, aeration is advised.
  • Aeration is crucial if imported sod soil of finer texture lays over existing coarse soil. Imported sod inhibits water drainage as water is held on the surface of the imported sod. Aerating your lawn at this stage will break up the layering of imported soil to enable soil nutrients to penetrate to the plant roots.
  • Aeration is also recommended in new homes for newly constructed lawns. During construction traffic, the topsoil of the lawn areas could be stripped and buried.
  • Aerating also assists in preserving your lawn against a lot of common compaction problems, including drainage issues, bare patches, weeds, dryness, fungal disease, etc.

What To Do After Aeration

After you finish aerating your lawn, let soil plugs or extra soil dry where they fall. They’ll break down in rain or crumble the next time you mow, adding beneficial soil and organic matter to your lawn surface.

Right after aeration is a perfect time to overseed with premium Pennington Smart Seed and fertilize your lawn or do simple lawn repairs. Seeds and nutrients have direct contact with soil through the openings your aerator created and roots have fresh pathways for the things they need. The combination can help put your lawn on the fast track for quick seed establishment and thicker, lusher growth.

By adding aeration to your annual task list or doing regular compaction tests to check for need, you help ensure your lawn can reach its full potential for thickness, health and beauty. Pennington is committed to providing you with the finest in grass seed and lawn care products to help you achieve your lawn goals.

Pennington and Smart Seed are trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.

  • Harper, J. C., “Aeration of Turfgrass Areas,” PennState Center for Turfgrass Science.
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    What Is Lawn Aeration Why When And How To Do It

    Maintaining a beautiful lawn is not an easy task. That is of course if youre not employing essential lawn care practices such as well-timed mowing, watering and fertilizing. But those aside, its also extremely important to ensure that the soil beneath your grass gets lots of nutrients. And what better way to do that than by aerating your lawn!

    Lawn aeration is crucial for a healthy lawn, as it allows air, water, and other nutrients to easily penetrate built-up grass and lawn thatch.

    So if youre new to lawn aeration, this article is just the thing for you. Here you will find everything you need to know about lawn aeration along with some handy tips.

    Get rid of thatch and make way for a beautiful lawn with this quick guide to aeration. Youll learn why, how, and when to aerate your lawn for the best results.

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    People dont often think about the condition of the soil in their yard, yet there are times when the condition of the soil can actually cause the grass to look dull and not grow and thrive the way that its supposed to.

    You likely wont notice the soil itself when this happens however, that could very well be the reason why your grass doesnt look so good. This is because the soil on your lawn can become compacted over time and when it does, air and nutrients wont make it through as they should. And it doesnt take a lot of compacted soil to make this happen. Even soil that is compacted 1/4 to 1/2 inch can cause it to take in less nutrients and air.

    Aerating the lawn twice a year is usually appropriate for heavy clay soils which tend to compact easily. For those with sandier soils, aerating once per year should be sufficient. Areas that receive a lot of foot traffic may need to be aerated more frequently.

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    Fall Aeration And Seeding

    We recommend aeration in late summer and seeding in the fall before the turf becomes dormant in the winter months. This is because here in Maryland and Northern Virginia, the soil stays warm into November, meaning the roots will continue to grow. Aerating your grass in the fall revitalizes it before dormancy, making new seedlings better equipped to handle chilly winters and setting your lawn up to thrive when next spring arrives!

    The Benefits Of Aeration

    Both core and liquid aeration create pores in the soil that allow more air, water, and nutrients to reach deeper, which promotes healthy root growth. Additionally, aeration can help your grass thrive by:

    • Helping to prevent the buildup of harmful elements and toxins in the soil and root system.
    • Protecting plants from diseases and pathogens that are caused by poor aeration.
    • Increasing the activity of beneficial microorganisms in the soil that promote plant health.
    • Preventing fertilizer and pesticides from running off due to soil compaction.
    • Making seeding more effective, allowing for better seed-to-soil contact and better germination & growth.

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    Is Aerating A Lawn Worth It

    No, its not necessary to aerate your lawn every year, especially if your grass is healthy and thriving. Aeration is good if youve got compacted, poor or clay-heavy soil thats been impacted by heavy equipment or lots of foot traffic. Improves water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil. Improves rooting.

    Does Aerating Lawn Get Rid Of Weeds

    When Should You Aerate Your Lawn In Northeast, OH ...

    Turf Conditions Compaction Compacted soil is an invitation for weeds. If your lawn is hard, compacted, and full of weeds an annual aeration will help air, water and fertilizer to enter, along with relieving compaction. Thin turf / bare spots As your lawn becomes thick or dense, it will naturally choke out weeds.

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    Is It Too Early To Aerate My Lawn

    You wouldn’t want to aerate and overseed too early, before the last frost hits for example, and kill the seeds. You also wouldn’t want to do it during the peak of a hot summer, when the harsh sun and temperature suppress new growth. For cool-season grasses, common in northern lawns, aerate early fall or spring.

    The Best Time To Overseed Grass

    Overseeding means planting new grass to fill in any bare or worn patches. This is helpful for having a gorgeous lawn that looks thick and healthy all year long. The best time to overseed depends on two factors: where you live and what kind of grass you prefer.

    Many homeowners in northern states choose cool-season grasses, and southern areas often select warm-season grasses. Each type of grass has distinctive growth patterns and needs, so make sure to speak with our lawn professionals if youre not sure what variety to choose. Here are the optimal overseeding times for several locations and grass types:

    • Pacific Northwest : Plant new grasses about six weeks before the first projected snowfall. These are generally cool-season grasses.
    • Southwest U.S. : Early spring is the best time for overseeding in these areas.
    • Southern states : April, May and June are good times to overseed in this huge area. The best time may vary each year depending on soil temperatures. You want warm-season grass to have a cozy environment to germinate in.
    • Northeast states : Due to the cold temperatures prevalent in these areas, its best to start planting grass seeds in August or September to give them some time to grow before winter hits.
    • Midwest U.S. : Weather conditions vary quite a bit depending on how far north you live, but a safe bet is to overseed lawns by the end of August or early September at the latest.

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    When Should You Aerate Your Lawn What You Need To Know

    Is your grass thinning, off-color, or growing unevenly? Maybe you should try aeration. When the soil is tightly compacted, neither roots nor water can penetrate it, which leads to a variety of unsightly symptoms. Core aerating admittedly sounds a bit like a miracle cure, but it can do wonders for lawns that really need it.

    What Do You Do After You Aerate Your Lawn

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    What to Do After Aerating Your Lawn

  • Leave the soil plugs on the lawn to decompose and filter back into the holes left by the aeration machine. …
  • Apply fertilizer immediately after aerating your lawn to put nutrients into your grass roots. …
  • Reseed your lawn, especially in areas of the lawn where the grass is thin.
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    How Frequently Should You Aerate Your Lawn

    For most residential lawns, its best to aerate about once a year. As long as you are aerating at about the same time each year, an annual aeration should be all you need to support healthy lawn growth throughout the growing season. At the same time, if your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic or the grass just doesnt seem to thrive throughout the year, you may need to aerate twice a year until healthy growth is restored.

    Why Its Important To Aerate Your Lawn

    Your grass needs space, below ground, to take in air, nutrients and water. Your lawns roots need to breathe.

    Ultimately, aerating your lawn and allowing it to breathe benefits you. A healthy lawn can drop the temperature of your homes surrounds, saving energy costs. But, aerating also helps to protect your lawn against a lot of common problems due to compaction: drainage issues, bare patches, weeds, dryness, fungal disease, fairy ring

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    The Different Types Of Lawn Aerator Tools

    The primary consideration when it comes to choosing lawn aerator tools is probably your lawn size. If the area is significantly large, an aerator tool attached to a riding mower would be a better pick. If you have a smaller piece of land, the manual options might be more fulfilling.

    Lawn aerators come in different styles and are used in different ways.

    Types of lawn aerators based on function:

    Plug or Core Aerators

    Plug or core aerators use rows of hollow tines to remove plugs, place them on top, and break them. You can have a variety of hole sizes depending on the machine you use.

    Slicing Aerators

    Slicing aerators use rotating blades to cut and slice through the hatch down to the soil. Though the dirt remains in the ground, these tools leave pathways for air and water.

    Spike Aerators

    Spike aerators simply boreholes into the soil. You can get spike aerators in the form of shoes and walk around your yard as you trim your fence or mow the lawn.

    Different Aerator Tool Types:

    Aside from the three aeration tool functions above, some people break them down into different types of tools based on how humans actually use them.

    Manual Aerator Tools
    Electric and Gas Aerators

    Electric and gas aerator tools are more automatic. Both work with fuel , and you can use them as long as the power remains adequate. They are efficient and easy to use, plus they could help save time and energy. You can rent them at HomeDepot or other local rental shops.

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    Aerating equipment comes in three main types, from small manual versions to larger tractor-like or pull-behind machinery:

    • Spike aerators simply poke a hole down into the soil with a solid, spike-like tine. Some homeowners wear spiked aerator sandals” strapped to their shoes to aerate as they do yard work. While these can help on a small scale, spike machines can make compaction worse by pressing soil together around the holes.1
    • Slicing aerators have rotating blades that cut or slice through grass and thatch and down into soil. Like spike aerators, slicing aerators leave soil in the ground, but they create pathways for air, water and nutrients without causing more compaction.
    • Core or plug aerators, typically preferred by lawn professionals, use rows of hollow tines that remove plugs of soil from your lawn and deposit them on top, where they break down. The size of the plugs and the holes they create vary in width and depth, depending on the machine used.

    You can hire a lawn service to aerate for you or do it yourself like a pro. Equipment rental companies and lawn and garden stores often rent aerator machines and provide basic operating instructions for the model you choose. Aerating is a lot like mowing as you work back and forth across your lawn. Concentrate on any known problem areas, like pet runs or backyard baseball diamonds. Make several passes in different directions to help ensure optimal coverage and benefits.

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