Maintaining a healthy lawn is hard, but there are a number of steps you can take to achieve this. You need to fertilize your grass, mow it at the right height, and water it regularly. But if nutrients don't reach the soil underneath your turf, you're going to have problems with thatch build-up and nutrient loss.
Lawn aeration helps improve drainage by removing plugs from the top layer of soil, allowing air and water in a while, helping reduce soil compaction below ground level. It also brings up minerals that were trapped beneath the soil surface into contact with roots for better absorption.
If you're looking for ways to achieve and maintain a beautiful lawn, then this article will help you learn more about using core aeration. We'll discuss why it's needed and what it involves. Read on!
What is Core Aeration?
Core aeration is one of the best practices for lawn care because it improves overall health and appearance while reducing weed growth potential. The process involves using an aerator machine or core aerating tool which removes plugs from two inches deep or more depending on how long you run the machine over your lawn's surface. This will help loosen compacted soil and allow water and air to reach the lawn's roots better.
What is the Best Time for Core Aeration?
For cool season grasses, core aeration should be performed in early fall or early spring. For the warm season grasses, core aeration should be done in late spring to early summer. When aeration combines with growth, grasses recover quickly and fill in areas where aerator equipment exposes soil.
When Do Lawns Need Aeration?
All lawns can benefit from core aeration, especially when the soil is compacted. Lawns in heavy shade or with thatch build up are great candidates for core aeration. Any time grass has difficulty growing or staying healthy due to compaction or poor drainage, this indicates that core aeration might be needed. Soils high in clay also benefit from core aeration.
Also, note that dethatching and aerating are two different things, although they work in handy. Thatch is the layer of decomposing organic matter that forms at the lawn surface between soil and grass. The thatch works like compaction to block the passage of air, water, and fertilizer to the roots.
Dethatching removes some grass blades while aerating opens up channels in the soil to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach grasses' root systems. Aggressive spreading grasses like Kentucky bluegrass in northern lawns and Bermuda grass down south form more than any other grass type.
If your grass looks stressed and your soil is hard to the touch, you may have compaction problems. You can confirm that by using a simple screwdriver test. Take your regular screwdriver and stick it into your lawn's soil by hand.
Why Core Aeration Helps Lawn
Lawns get heavy use, such as acting as neighborhood playgrounds and racetracks. Kids and pets running around the yard can also lead to soil compaction. That said, your grass roots need air, water, and nutrients to grow thick, deep, and strong. When the soil becomes compacted, it will inhibit the flow of essentials that supports thicker, healthier tuff growth.
Excess lawn thatch and heavy organic matter buried under the grass surface can also starve the grass of essential elements. Therefore, the hollow tine core aeration will help alleviate additional compaction so air, water, and nutrients can reach grass roots.
If lawn grasses are deprived of their basic needs by compacted soil, they'll struggle, especially in stressful situations such as heat and low rainfall, thus losing their healthy, rich color. The grasses will gradually thin and die out completely. If there's no oxygen, water and nutrients will be inches away.
Other Methods of Aerating Your Lawn
Apart from plug aerators or core aeration, there are other methods of aerating available equipment. They include:
Spike aerators have hollow tines that penetrate the soil and remove small cores of soil. Spike aeration is quick, easy to install, and can be used on lawns with little maintenance. The spikes create holes for water and nutrients by pushing soil aside.
These are blades attached to a wheel, which slice through the lawn's surface. This method is similar to the spike aerators in that it also removes cores of soil from your lawn. The slices will give rise to new shoots and roots, giving rise to thicker turf.
How to Aerate Your Yard
You can find lawn aerators, power rakes, and other power equipment at your local store, hardware stores, and some big-box retailers. You can also hire lawn service from equipment rental companies and lawn and garden stores. Here's how to aerate your lawn:
Flag utilities or other pipes loosen the soil around those with a shovel. Remove plugs from holes, then drag the aerator behind you across your lawn. With space between each pass, turn over all of the soil that was brought to the surface. Replant grass seed or transplant seedlings as desired
Time Your Aeration Right
For best results, time your aeration to coincide with your lawn's physiological stage of development. Late summer is the best time for quick relief from compacted soil, while late spring or early fall are ideal times for lawn restoration and strengthening. Aerate when the soil is soft, like after an irrigation cycle or a recent rainfall.
This will allow the hollow tines to penetrate the soil easily, making it easier to do their job. Hollow and solid-core aerator tines will struggle to penetrate hard, dry soil, making the process less effective.
Cover your entire lawn at least once and the second time at a cross angle. Pay attention to lawn surfaces with heavy foot traffic, driveways, and sidewalks because these sections will be more compacted. If your lawn is smaller, you may only need to do it once.
Forget the myth that if you apply a pre emergent herbicide on your lawn in the spring, it will destroy your herbicide barrier. This is not always true because aeration won't affect crabgrass control or weed prevention.
What to Do After Aerating
After aerating, if possible, combine lawn aeration with other lawn care maintenance such as fertilizing, adding soil amendments, and overseeding. Water, fertilizer, and grass seed needs to get through the lawn surface into the soil where they can start growing grass roots. After aerating your lawn, let soil plugs or extra soil dry where they fall.
Core aerating will open the soil to allow water, fertilizer, and seed to move down in the soil for faster root growth. You can also help restore your lawn by application of fertilizer immediately after core aeration. Better yet, make your compost for this purpose.
FAQs on How to Use Core Aeration
When should you core aeration?
Core aeration can happen anytime, but the best time is usually in the spring and early summer or fall. It's recommended to core aerate when there's the most root growth.
Should you water before core aeration?
Yes, you should water one to three days before aerating. This is because the soils must be moist to help the machine penetrate through to remove soil plugs. Do not aerate overly soaked and completely dry soil because the aerator will pull out small soil cores from the lawn, which should be left to break down.
Final Thought on How to Use Core Aeration
As you can see, adding aeration to your annual task list will help you maintain your lawn and make it look more beautiful. Plus, you save money in the long run by having a healthy lawn.