Aerating Lawns


Aerating lawns is one of the most important and neglected practices available for your lawn.

Lawns that receive regular aeration will be:

  • Greener
  • Easier to maintain
  • Suffer from fewer pest problems and disease

I've found in my own work with lawns that these are some really great benefits over the long haul.  It is really worth aerating lawns.

Aerating Lawns Also:

  • Helps control thatch build up
  • Improves the soil structure
  • Helps create growth pockets for new roots (your lawn can easily have dead patches if you don't aerate)
  • Opens the way for water and fertilizer to get into the root zone of your lawn


SOIL COMPACTION - THE ENEMY OF LAWNS

An enemy of lawns is soil compaction.  Soil compaction is a frequent cause of turf deterioration.  It's caused by lawn traffic, like walking and mowing.  Soil compaction is greatest (or worse) in the top 2" to 3" of the soil.

When soil gets compacted by walking or mowing, dirt particles are forced together.  This is a big problem because it reduces the area where your lawns roots can grow.

Aerating lawns just makes sense.  For you to maintain a healthy lawn through periods of stress, your lawn soil needs water, air, and nutrients in the top 6" to 10".  Soils that are hard and compacted have no nooks and crannies to hold the water, air, or nutrients.  Without these crucial components root growth is virtually impossible and greatly impeded to say the least.

If your lawns roots aren't growing, the grass won't develop the root system that is essential to survive in hot/dry or harsh/cold periods.

Aerating lawns is really beneficial anyplace your lawn slopes too.  If you aerate, water will soak in those sloped areas, instead of just running off quickly before it can soak in.  You've noticed those dry slopes you have, it's because the water just isn't getting down to the roots.  Aerating will help that problem.

WHEN TO AERATE

Okay, so you've decided to aerate your lawn.  How do you know when it needs to be aerated?

Here are some signs: 

  • There are worn areas where people walk often
  • Water puddles after rain or irrigating (watering) your lawn
  • Water runs off the lawn, after only a few minutes of watering
  • There are areas in your lawn that just can't seem to keep moist

Here is a quick test you can do to know if your soil is compacted:

Poke a large screwdriver or sturdy stake in the ground.  If it goes in easily, the soil is not compacted, but if it goes in only with difficulty, that's a clear signal that your soil is compacted and needs more breathing room.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU AERATE?

If you maintain your lawn to a high standard or if your soil is heavy and tends to compact, you may need aerating twice per year.

Sandy soils do not become compacted as easily and may only need aerating every few years.

WHEN SHOULD YOU AERATE?

What type of grass do you have?  Cool season or warm season? (See below for definitions if you're unsure.)  The best time to aerate is during the peak growing period for the type of grass you have.

For cool season lawns it is best to aerate lawns between August and early October.  The next best time is in the spring.  Wait until you have mowed the grass twice before aerating.

If you aerate in the fall, aerate at least 30 days before the ground freezes.  This will ensure your lawn has the opportunity to recover before winter dormancy.

The best time to aerate warm season lawns is in late spring or early summer

COOL SEASON LAWNS AND WARM SEASON LAWNS

Common Cool Season Lawn Species Include:

  • Bluegrass
  • Bent Grasses
  • Fescues
  • Rye Grasses

Cool season lawns grow best during temperatures of 60 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit (spring and fall).  When it's hot and dry, they can go dormant or even die.

Common Warm Season Lawn Species Include:

  • Bermuda Grass
  • Saint-Augustine Grass
  • Zoysia Grass
  • Buffalo Grass

Warm season lawns grow best with temperatures between 80 - 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, whether you aerate lawns in the spring, summer or fall; use your own aerator, contract it done, or rent one at your local rental supplier; aerating is essential to a good looking, well maintained lawn.

Hope this page answered your questions.  If you have more, look through our website, or contact us and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

And remember - Have a Happy Lawn!!!


Return to the Home Page from my Aerating Lawns Page.

Lawn Aerator Equipment: What to use and why.


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