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A lush healthy-looking lawn requires the right grass seed that is suitable for your climate. Planting at the most optimal time ensures germination.
You have the right tools to tend to your lawn. Yet you find your lawn looks brown and patchy. What went wrong?
Do you aerate your lawn? If yes, then perhaps the answer can be found in the timing.
Related Article: Best Time To Plant Grass
Why Do We Aerate?
Grass needs oxygen to thrive and grow. As the grass is exposed to foot traffic, rain and snow, as well as natural settling, the soil can become compacted.
This compaction around the grass roots reduces exposure of air to the roots. Compacted soils also prevent water from reaching the grass roots.
Your lawn is deprived of vital nutrients, which leave your lawn looking sparse and brown. Aeration is a simple way to have a healthy lawn by relieving soil compaction. This allows grass roots to absorb nutrients and give you a green and lush lawn.
A lawn with clay soil compacts even tighter than sandy soil. Either way, you need to aerate so that water and air can penetrate and reach the roots.
How Do You Know the Soil is Compacted?
Here are a few obvious signs that your lawn is compacted:
After a heavy rain, you see little pools all over your lawn. The lawn turns brown, feels spongy and the thatch is thick. Is this happening to you?
The reason that spring may not be the ideal time to aerate your lawn is because spring is high traffic season.
Children are outside playing on the grass. Pets are running around. These and other common outdoor spring and summer activities contribute to soil compaction.
Another practice that contributes to soil compaction is when people roll their lawns in the spring. This method is intended to smooth out any lumps and bumps found in the lawn. Unfortunately, this practice when done at the wrong time, will further compact the soil.
Soil compaction means insufficient soil drainage. Aeration is the solution.
When To Aerate Your Lawn
When you aerate your lawn under the right conditions you will appreciate the results. One factor to consider the timing for aeration depends on the type of grass you plant.
Between March and May or in the fall would be the best to aerate cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescue.
The upside to fall aeration is the available option to add a late-season fertilizer. Then you will find a green lawn with strong root growth when spring arrives.
Between April and July is the ideal time to aerate warm-season grasses. The best way to prevent weed infiltration is to schedule aeration after the grass has grown in the spring and has been mowed at least once.
Sandy soil will thrive when you aerate annually. Clay soil and a high traffic lawn may require aeration both in the spring and fall to ensure a healthy lawn.
For a lawn that was seeded or sodded within the last year is the one time you do not want to aerate. You want to give the seeds the necessary time for the roots to take hold, which will take about two years.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
A core aerator is the most effective tool for the task. This equipment has hollow tines that penetrate the soil and it will pull the cores which cause the compaction in the soil. The tines can be as long as 3/4” to 4” deep.
Spikes are another tool that will poke holes in the lawn, but it is not as efficient. You may run the risk of compacting the soil with this method.
You can check if your lawn needs aeration by examining the roots of a small area of your lawn. Less than two inches of root growth means your lawn needs aeration.
A day or two before you plan to aerate, water the soil so that the water is approximately one inch deep. This will allow the aerator to permeate the soil.
Be careful that the soil is not muddy. You don’t want to clog the aerator.
When you begin, the core aerator should cover the lawn the same way you mow the grass. The cores that are left by the aerator can be discarded. If you leave them the cores do break up and reintegrate back into the soil.
Once the aeration process is finished you will want to refill the holes. You can add compost, peat moss, or sand. Next, fertilize the lawn, and add grass seed if required.
Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro
Whether you choose to aerate your lawn or hire a professional lawn company that all depends on your priorities. You can work hard or you can work smart.
You may be willing and able to invest the hours of work in order to save money. But do you really save money?
Renting the equipment, buying other gardening tools, seeds, and fertilizer may total up close to the price for a lawn company to do the job more efficiently.
Is the personal achievement to aerate your own lawn acceptable when it involves both money and time that include the costs of mistakes that typically occur in the process?
Is the frugality plus time spent to aerate your lawn worth the price of the many weekend hours that otherwise would be spent relaxing with your family?
Be assured that you definitely will be spending a lot of time outside in the fresh air if you do this on your own. However, you may not spot soil-related problems that a professional skillfully finds and addresses efficiently and effectively.
Aerating is vital for a healthy, green lawn. When done right, you can enjoy your beautiful lawn all season long.