Aerating your lawn, at least twice a year (during the fall and the spring), or whenever you find compacted soil is an important task. Lawn aeration will decrease soil compaction, and open the soil surface permitting water, air and nutrients to enter the root-zone. Here are some tips that will help you to aerate your lawn:
- Assess the Need: If you find that your lawn has excess water runoff (a sign of compacted soil where water has difficulty penetrating through the soil surface) or your turf grass doesn’t look at its best, perhaps it’s time to aerate your lawn. You may even cut out a piece of lawn and examine the roots. A lawn with underdeveloped and shallow roots is likely to benefit from aeration. Lawns with heavy use (vehicle and foot traffic) often become compacted over time. In such instances, heavy trampling squeezes the air out of the soil and roots can no longer grow efficiently. Aerating such lawns can help restore the passageways for air, water and fertilizers to get closer to the roots. However, landscape experts often advise against aerating lawns that have been sodded or seeded within one year of planting.
- Preparing the Lawn: Once the need for aeration is ascertained, your next step is to prepare your lawn. Landscape experts suggest watering the lawn thoroughly 1-2 days before you aerate your lawn. This will help the aerator penetrate the soil and pull out plugs of soil easily. If you have flag irrigation heads and other hidden objects in the lawn, ensure that you steer clear of them while operating the aerator. Those with an in-built sprinkler system should also mark the sprinkler lines so that they aren’t punctured accidentally when aerating the lawn. If you don’t have an irrigation system, you can use a garden hose and sprinkler for watering your lawn.
- The Process of Aeration: Run the aerator over your lawn in a way that the device covers the area only once. Though some people use aerators with spikes, they may not work as well as their mechanical core counterparts. Some experts suggest removing aeration plugs, some others say that a better alternative would be to leave them on the turf and break them up with the mower the next time you cut the grass. This can promote the growth of microorganisms, which in turn can decrease thatch build up.
- Post-aeration Tips: You can leave the soil chunks (pulled out by the aerator) on the ground to let them decompose. Alternately, you may collect them into piles and throw away in the compost bin. Your next step is to sprinkle compost over the lawn to plug the holes. Instead of compost, you can also use peat moss or sand. After aeration, you should apply fertilizer and grass seed to your lawn as aeration will help the nutrients move immediately into the root-zone of your lawn. This will significantly improve the density and color of your lawn grass.
Prevention is always better than cure—with timely aeration, you can ensure healthy stands of grass, which are the best defense against weeds. You can always hire professional landscape services for the job.