What Are The Benefits Of Aerating Your Lawn In Winter
Lush lawns do not emerge as a mere stroke of luck. Proud property owners with well-manicured lawns know and understand that achieving their goals entails a year-round commitment, even in winter.
During this season, there are a few lawn care tasks that you need to perform in order to ensure that your lawn looks great come summertime. These include the removal of weeds, fertilising, oversowing and soil aeration.
What is soil aeration and why do you have to do it?
Essentially, soil aeration is about perforating the soil on your lawn. The small holes created through aeration facilitate the penetration of air, water and vital nutrients down to the roots of the grass. In turn, when the grasss roots receive an ample supply of these resources, it grows deeply and becomes more resilient.
Soil aeration is essential because it offers a remedy for one common problem lawn owners face: soil compaction. Soil compaction prevents the grasss roots from receiving the essential resources these need for optimal growth. Combined with lawn thatch, compacted soil can starve the grass.
What are the signs that you need to aerate your lawn?
One of the main causes of soil compaction is the high amount of traffic on lawns. If your yard is often used by your kids and pets as a playground, this is one sign that you need to aerate your lawn.
If you do not notice any of these signs, it is best to aerate your lawn during winter.
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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Should You Aerate Your Lawn
In the mad rush to get a head start on getting your lawn ready for the new season, many people overlook the need for aerating their lawns. Basic lawn practices like fertilizing, proper mowing and watering contribute to a beautiful lawn, but aeration can be a vital element to ensure that nutrients reach the soil beneath your grass.
As the sod ages over time, the soil beneath the grass can become compacted. This compression prevents air and water from penetrating the lawn to feed it. The lawn ends up with little or no small pockets of air held in the soil. This compacted lawn thatch makes it difficult for grass roots to absorb the water and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and lush. Without open spaces for the water and nutrients to get into the soil, the lawn will deteriorate before long, making it more susceptible to weeds, invasion of insects and disease. Aeration can reverse this negative trend on your lawn because it allows air and water to penetrate built-up grass or lawn thatch.
Best Ways To Aerate Your Lawn
If you have decided that you are going to aerate your lawn, its important to do it properly.
First make sure that the soil has enough water. It will be very difficult to aerate soil that is dry. Either try to aerate right after it has rained, or water your lawn the day before you begin.
There are plenty of aeration machines that only cover a small part of your lawn are once, so try to make multiple passes over the same area, and move the machine in different directions .
If there are areas that do not need to be aerated, there is no reason to do so. Save your energy for the areas which need it the most.
In order to keep a cohesive lawn, you will want to allow any soil plugs that have been excavated, to dry and then break them up. You can break them up by running over the lawn and plugs with a lawn mower, but I use the back of a leaf rake once theyre dry.
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How To Aerate A Lawn
The process or aerating a lawn is simple. There are two tools you can use which will help you. Choose from a Plug Aerator or a Spike Aerator. The Plug Aerator, as expected, will remove a plug of soil from your lawn leaving a hole. A Spike Aerator will simply spike holes into the existing soil. You can easily rent either of these machines from your local garden store or home improvement centre.
Before you begin firstly use your lawn mower to crop the grass very short, it is also important to ensure the soil is thoroughly moist. Trying to aerate dry soil could cause further problems and compaction. Go over each area more than once, and in different directions for thorough coverage. If you chose to use a Plug Aerator remove and dry out the plugs of soil then spread them evenly over the lawn once the process is complete.
Make sure that you aerate to the right depth simply aerating a compacted layer wont help, you must go deeper than this to ensure the soil is penetrated properly, you are trying to make deep holes with uncompacted walls.
After you have finished aerating your lawn, you should cover it with new grass seed and then take particular care to water, fertilise and mow back the grass regularly. Repeat this process at least once a year, if not more, dependant on your garden usage and you will reap the benefits of having a strong and healthy looking lawn.
Signs Its Time To Aerate & Seed Your Lawn
The best way to keep your lawn looking its best is by aerating and seeding it every year. Many people wait until their lawn is in bad shape before they take action, but this can often lead to extensive damage. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s time for you to aerate and seed your lawn, then read on!
10 Signs Your Lawn Needs Aeration:
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The Best Time Of Year To Aerate Your Lawn
The best time of year to aerate your lawn is just before the high growth season, which varies by grass type. The best time of year to aerate cool-season grass, like Kentucky bluegrass and creeping red fescue, is at the beginning of the Spring and Fall. The best time to aerate warm-season grass, like St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass, is late Spring.
If youre not sure what type of grass you have, this helpful resource on Scotts.com will help.
The growing season is the ideal time of year to aerate because roots will take advantage of their newly found access to water and nutrients, helping the lawn recover quickly as they grow.
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 it helps 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.
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Which Method Should You Choose
Aerators which remove plugs of soil are the most effective, according to most lawn care and turf experts.
This is definitely what I have found.
That said, the efficacy really depends on your lots type of soil. Also, consider the size of the lot youre going to be aerating when choosing a tool and method for lawn aeration.
Poking methods like spike aerators can be less effective than plug aerators due to causing additional compaction around where you place the holes.
I recommend that you use an aeration tool that pulls soil plugs at least 2-3 inches deep. These should also be no larger than 1 inch in diameter and no farther than 4 inches apart for best results.
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Why Is Aeration Necessary
Compact soil prevents grass from establishing a healthy root system and keeps water and fertilizer from reaching the roots.
In most home lawns, fertile topsoil may have been removed or buried during excavation of the basement or footings, forcing grass to grow in subsoil that is more compact, higher in clay content and less likely to sustain a healthy lawn.
Walking, playing and mowing will compact soil and stress lawns. Raindrops and irrigation further compact the soil, reducing large air spaces where roots readily grow. Compaction is greater on heavy clay soils than on sandy soils, and it is greatest in the upper 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil.
Aeration can help relieve soil compaction, allowing your grass to grow deeper roots and make better use of water and fertilizer.
Soil Compaction Turfgrass in compacted soil grows slowly, lacks vigor and becomes thin or does not grow at all. Core aeration removes small cores of soil, depositing them on the surface of the turf. This improves the depth and the extent of turfgrass rooting , and it can help save money on your water bill.
Types Of Aerators For Lawns
There are two main types of aerators for lawns:
- Manual aeration is done by using an aeration tool, such as a garden fork or hand-held auger, to make small holes in the soil. This method is best for small lawns.
- Machine aeration is done with a gas-powered or electric aerator. This method is best for large lawns. The machine pulls small plugs of soil from the ground as it moves, creating holes that are about 2.5 cm in diameter.
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What Is Lawn Aeration When And How To Do It
If you are a novice or seasoned gardener, or simply a homeowner who has an interest in understanding and knowing more about landscaping, you may have heard of lawn aeration even if you have little idea of what it is.
In this article, we will provide an in-depth explanation of what lawn aeration is, why & when you should do it, and provide tips that will help you with the actual process.
Should You Be Aerating Your Lawn
One of the most common questions from homeowners is how to determine if they should be aerating their lawn. Your lawn is probably a good candidate for aeration if it:
- Gets heavy use, such as serving as the neighborhood playground or racetrack. Children and pets running around the yard contribute to soil compaction.
- Was established as part of a newly constructed home. Often, the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped or buried, and the grass established on subsoil has been compacted by construction traffic.
- Dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This might mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem. Take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.
- Was established by sod, and soil layering exists. Soil layering means that soil of finer texture, which comes with imported sod, is layered over the existing coarser soil. This layering disrupts drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor root development. Aerating breaks up the layering, allowing water to flow through the soil more easily and reach the roots.
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When Do You Need To Aerate Your Lawn
Ideally, the best time for lawn aeration in the UK is either in autumn or spring. This is when the soil is mostly likely to be naturally moist and it is suitable for the holes to be set effectively.
Ideally you would aerate in the spring when it is just coming into growing season for the grass, as this gives the grass the opportunity to heal properly. Keep in mind that the weather in the UK varies a great deal and aeration is very condition dependent. If it is too wet then the holes will not let water and air through as the sides of the holes will seal up. When it comes to frequency of lawn aeration it is dependent on the lawn.
New lawns should be aerated more often as they have a less matured root system and aerating helps this develop and grow. We would recommend you aerate a new lawn twice a year for non-established lawn. Those with hard or clay soil should be aerated once a year as they have more difficulty getting air and water to the roots. For all other types of soil and lawn you should aerate at least every 3 years, but more frequent if the grass is looking unhealthy or not growing well.
Aerating The Lawn Tools To Use
Whether you choose to aerate the lawn manually or using motorized equipment, you have three main types of tools to use, from small manual versions to other larger, heavier tractor-like ones. Lets see together the main categories of this aerating machineries:
Spike Aerators: these are the most straightforward tools to use for aerating the lawn, as they will simply poke some holes down into the soil. Usually, these spike aerators come with solid, spike-like tines.
Some gardeners even use the special aerating sandals, some comfortable to wear shoes that will aerate the soil by only stepping on the lawn. These sandals, as well as the spike aerators, are working great on a small scale.
However, if you are dealing with larger areas, you should look at the following categories of tools.
Slicing aerators are the second category of aerating tools. These ones have rotating blades meant to cut or slice all the grass pieces and then thatch down into the soil. The slicing aerators can create pathways, great for water, air, and nutrients to reach the soil without causing any more compaction.
Core or Plug Aerators, the last types of tools, are mainly preferred by lean professionals. These ones use hollow tines and rows meant to remove plugs of soil from the lawn you are working on, then store them on top.Choose the plugs size depending on the size of the holes you will create. They will vary in depth and width.
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Relieve Or Reduce Soil Compaction
Aerating your lawn allows important nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. Compaction in soil occurs when you have too many particles of squeezed matter together. The more compacted these little pieces are, the harder it becomes for important things like water, air, and important minerals to get through. Core aerating creates small pockets of space that enable water and nutrients to reach new growth areas of your lawn.
Soil compaction is a serious problem for many farmers, but you can overlook it. When left untreated, long-term effects include reduced crop yields and slow establishment. It leads to higher costs in the future as well. But there are ways that you could reduce or even correct this issue. Do management practices such as improving fertility levels through fertilization which also helps prevent bloat.
Soil compaction negatively affects the health of soil, plants, and animals. With less space for air to pass through, it becomes difficult for roots to grow properly due to their lack of oxygenation. This causes them an early death when they are not strong enough already.
Aerating Tools: Plug Aerator Vs Spike Aerator
Two main aerating tools exist a spike aerator and a plug aerator. With a spike aerator, you simply use the tool to poke holes into the ground with a solid tine, or fork. Plug aerators remove a core or plug of grass and soil from the lawn. For the best results, use an aerating tool or machine that actually removes plugs of soil. Poking holes is less effective and can actually cause additional compaction in the areas around the holes.
Look for an aerating tool or machine that removes soil plugs approximately 2 3 inches deep and 0.5 0.75 inches in diameter, and about 2 3 inches apart. These machines can be rented from lawn and garden stores or home improvement centers. Always follow the directions provided by the store. You may want to consider sharing the rental cost with a neighbor who is interested in aerating the lawn.
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