It is summer, the time of the year for you to gaze at your backyard where you have a beautiful lawn and which needs proper care to thrive. While gardeners in cities are planning for container gardening, it’s time for the lawn owners to think a bit about polishing their lawn equipment to go outside and spend some more time with their natural grasses.
If you have perfect soil, and you’ve planted the right grass, what extras should you do to keep your lawn green and healthy?
This means you have to mow, fertilize, and water your grass as well as fight weeds, pests, diseases, and, most importantly, aerate the grass. But, why aeration, what is this term, and why it is so important to aerate your lawn? Let’s have a look at it.
What is Aeration of the Lawn?
Aeration generally means to perforate the soil so that the water and nutrients can penetrate through the soil and reach to the grassroots easily. It also allows the air to fill up air pockets in the soil. This helps the grass to grow their roots deep into the soil, which in turn produces more vigorous and healthier grass.
Another reason for lawn aeration is to break the soil compaction. Compacted soil restricts the air and water from seeping down into the soil, making it difficult for roots to absorb essential nutrients for their healthy growth.
Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn?
Your lawn needs aeration if there is:
- Frequent foot traffic on the lawn: kids play most of the time, and you are also using it for some morning walks.
- Thatch problem in your lawn: that develops through dried grass’s accumulation on the soil, which gives the lawn a spongy feel. Thatch also restricts the movement of nutrients into the soil and inhibits water absorbance.
Remember, dethatching and aeration are two different things, but they are usually practiced together. Aeration also helps to eradicate thatch problems.
- Aeration is needed if the soil of your lawn is mainly clay.
- More floating water on the soil surface is also a sign of the need for aeration.
- The grass looks stressed, and the soil is hard to the touch.
When to Aerate Your Lawn?
Aeration is best for lawns, but it can affect your grass if done at the wrong time, e.g., don’t aerate your lawn in the dormant season. Early spring or early fall is the best time to aerate your cool-season grasses, whereas, for warm-season grasses, the best time to practice aeration is late spring or early summer.
During active growth seasons, the grass quickly responds and fills up the gaps rapidly where aeration equipment exposed the soil. Humid soil can be aerated easier than the dry soil, but avoid aeration of wet lawns, wait a few days, and when excessive water is dried off, you may precede with your aeration process.
It is better to continue with your basic lawn maintenance practices such as watering, fertilizing, and mowing after aeration to ensure proper grass rehabilitation.
Tools Used in Aeration
There are mainly three types of aerating equipment
- Spike aerators
- Slicing aerators
- Core or plug aerators
They are available in the form of small manual versions to larger tractor-like or pull-behind machinery.
Spike Aerators: Consists of simply spike-like tines which poke holes deep into the soil. They are also available in the form of aerating sandals; a person can wear such sandals and just carry on routine work while walking around the lawn area. Note that spike aerators may cause compaction by pressing soil together around the holes.
Slicing Aerators: Consist of rotating blades that slice through the grass and go down into the soil. They don’t cause compaction as done by spike aerators.
Plug Aerators: Remove plugs of soil from the lawn and spread them on the top. Professionals prefer these.
Manual aerators are labor-intensive if you have a bigger area. That’s why power aerators or machine operated aerators are good options to get the job done easily and timely.
There is also a factor of cost; manual aerators are cheap while power aerators are expensive.
If you are a beginner, here are some tips before you start aeration.
- Do not aerate during drought periods.
- Water your lawn thoroughly a day before you are doing aeration.
- While aeration, do not run over irrigation pipes or sprinkler lines and damage them as it is not cheap to repair them.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Mow the grass first
- Aerate the compacted areas several times
- Aerate the compacted soil at alternate angles, i.e., the second aeration turn must be perpendicular to the first one.
- Leave the plugs on the soil, which are removed by the aerator.
- After aeration, fertilize your lawn.
- Water it thoroughly, and for the next couple of weeks after aeration, water it every 2 to 3 days to ensure proper grass growth.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Can the grass be mown after aeration?
No, don’t mow the grass after aeration; wait until it grows 3 inches (7.6 cm) tall.
Can I reseed the lawn after aeration?
Yes, you may reseed your lawn and fertilize it, it can produce better results.
How much time does it take to aerate a lawn?
It depends on the size of your lawn. A small lawn may be aerated in an hour or two while the bigger one requires more time.
Grass is a living organism that requires water, nutrients, and oxygen to be absorbed by their roots. If the soil is compacted, it will restrict the flow of these necessary elements and inhibit plant growth.
Well perforated and loose soil provides better ventilation and drainage to the soil, which helps lawns to grow healthy and stronger. That’s why aeration is as beneficial for lawns as any other important practice.
Aerate your lawn, let it breathe, and feed on the soil nutrients properly. Give some space to the grassroots, so that they may spread through the area rapidly and grow vigorously.