Best Lawn Aeration Tips: Why It’s Important to Aerate Your Yard
As homeowners, we strive to achieve and maintain a healthy, lush, and beautiful lawn. We’re able to do so through lawn care practices including mowing regularly, fertilizing at the appropriate seasons, watering when necessary, seeding for new growth, treating for weeds, diseases and insects, and more. However, one technique lawn caretakers don’t always take advantage of is aeration, likely because they don’t understand the process itself or its benefits. For us, aerating your lawn should be a no-brainer! Our best lawn aeration tips will help you tackle this yard care task.
What is Aerating?
The process of aeration involves drilling small holes through your lawn into the soil below with the purpose of allowing air, water, and nutrients to pass through to the grassroots. Aeration helps your grass' roots grow deeper and ultimately produces a stronger, more healthy lawn.
One of the biggest reasons for aerating is to loosen up compact soil (soil with too many solid particles within a certain volume or space). Compact soil cuts off the circulation of air and prevents water and nutrients from penetrating through the soil and to the roots.
Excess lawn thatch (loose layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots which develop between the zone of green vegetation and soil surface) or any other type of heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements. Aeration helps to break up this layer and open up the yard so that it’s capable of absorbing the nutrients needed to grow strong and healthy.
Benefits of Aerating
Aeration may seem like overkill to some, but it’s actually pretty beneficial to do once a year. There are so many great reasons to consider aerating including:
Allows air and water to penetrate soil more easily
Improves fertilizer uptake
Reduces soil compaction
Builds tolerance against heat and drought
Breaks up thatch layer
Lawns become less susceptible to diseases
How Do I Know if I Need to Aerate?
There are a few things every lawn caretaker should ask themselves when determining whether or not to aerate their lawn:
1. Does my lawn see a lot of traffic and heavy use?
If kids and pets run around your yard frequently, your soil is likely more compact than others.
2. Was my lawn grown as part of my newly constructed home?
Often the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped and lacking nutrients. Also, if your home was newly constructed it’s likely that the soil was compacted by heavy machinery and other forms of construction traffic.
3. Does my lawn tend to dry out easily? Does my lawn have a spongy feel to it?
It’s possible that your lawn has an excessive thatching problem. Grab a shovel and scoop up a four-inch slice of your lawn. If you see that more than one-half inch is thatch, you’re going to want to go ahead and aerate.
4. Was your lawn originally sod?
Sod creates soil layering (when soil of finer texture, which you typically get with imported sod, is layered over existing soil, soil which may be more coarse). Layering becomes a problem for drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil leading to compact conditions and poor root development. Aerating helps to break up the layering, and allows water to flow through the soil more easily to reach the roots.
When Should I Aerate?
This is a question we get often, and a valid one at that. The only time we definitely don’t recommend for aerating is during the winter, when the soil is hard to penetrate and your yard isn’t in an optimal place to easily recover.
The best time for aeration is during your grass’ growing season as this is when the grass can best heal and fill in any open areas after soil plugs (the product of a plug aerator) are removed. Ideally, cool-season grasses should be aerated in the early spring or fall and warm-season grasses in the late spring. Because of the temperate climate in the Carolinas, there are several types of grass that thrive in our environment. To learn more about the different kinds and determine what’s growing in your hard, check out our blog, 4 Grasses That Thrive in the Carolinas.
How Do I Aerate?
This wouldn't be a blog about best lawn aeration tips if we didn't actually explain how to aerate, would it?
Once you’ve decided your lawn does require some aerating, you’ll probably question where to begin. Start with gathering the supplies you’ll need.
There are two aerating tools you can use: a spike aerator or a plug aerator. With a spike aerator, you simply use the tool to poke holes into the ground with a sold “tine” (a fork-like object), but a plug aerator actually removes a core (or “plug”) of grass and soil from the lawn. We recommend a plug aerator because poking holes tends to be less effective and can even contribute to additional compaction.
Once you’ve gathered the tools needed to aerate, make sure the lawn is actually ready for it. We advise aerating the day after a rain shower or watering your lawn the day before as trying to aerate bone dry soil is tough. A slightly wet lawn is the most favorable condition for aeration because the soil has loosened up enough to pierce.
When you’re ready to begin removing plugs, keep in mind that the holes should be made approximately 2-3 inches deep, .5-.75 inches in diameter, and about 2-3 inches apart.
It’s worth noting that the machine can only cover a small percentage of soil surface per pass. Use your best judgment – if one area is more compact than others, give it multiple passes. If the area isn’t a concern, skip it!
Allow the pulled soil plugs to dry and then break them up by running them over with the lawn lower or pounding them with the back of a rake. This will return your lawn to it’s normal, clean appearance.
For a more detailed description of best lawn aeration tips you can do yourself, check out our blog, DIY Aeration Tips to Keep Your Lawn Nourished.
After Aeration, What Do I Do?
After aerating it’s important that you continue basic lawn care practices – mowing, watering, and fertilizing – or else your lawn won’t reap the full benefits of your aerating efforts. Your lawn will certainly thank you (and reward you by looking its best!) for allowing it to breathe again.
If you decide that the aeration process is too much for you to do alone, contact us for help. You can always count on the Killingsworth team to provide you with expert lawn care services.
Schedule a service with our lawn care professionals today!