Most people want an attractive lawn, but one of the most effective ways of achieving that is often overlooked. Aerating a lawn helps keep it in optimal health and enhances the benefits of other lawn maintenance steps. In this post, you’ll learn why and how to aerate your lawn.
Why aerate your lawn?
To understand the importance of aeration, imagine a newly potted plant. When you first place the potting soil in the pot, it’s very loose. You can easily dig around in it with your fingers. Over time, the soil can become compacted and get much more challenging to move around. When this happens, it’s harder for the air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots. It’s also more complicated for those roots to expand. The same happens to your lawn, which has the added disadvantage of people and machinery traveling over it and further compacting it.
When to aerate your lawn
Two significant factors are timing your lawn aeration: the type of grass and the moisture level. The type of grass will determine the season in which you aerate. Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, are best aerated in the early spring or fall. For warm-season grasses like Bermuda, zoysia, and St. Augustine, the best time to aerate is in the late spring or early summer.
With the season narrowed down, you can use ground moisture to determine the best day to aerate. Soil that’s too dry or too wet won’t respond as well to aeration. Ideally, a handful of soil will stick together but crumble easily in your hands. Soil that’s too wet will not crumble easily. When too dry, it won’t stick together at all.
How to do the process
There are two types of aerators: spike and plug. Spike aerators push thin spikes into the ground to make small holes. Plug aerators, called core aerators, push larger hollow spikes into the ground. This removes larger sections of the soil and results in better aeration. You may need to use a spike aerator 2-3 times yearly, but a plug aerator generally only needs to be used once yearly.
Regardless of the type of aerator you choose, the process of aerating the lawn is similar. The five steps below outline the process, with one only applying to plug aeration.
- Mow the lawn – The thickness of the grass impacts how deeply the aerator will penetrate. Mowing the lawn to an even height insures more consistent aeration across the lawn.
- Mark underground utilities – Utility lines such as gas, power, and water lines are buried under your lawn. Utility companies can show you where they are so you don’t damage them.
- Go over the lawn with the aerator – Aerators come in many forms. A human pushes some, and a lawn mower pulls others. Whichever your type, be sure to go over your lawn evenly as you use it.
- Remove the plugs – A plug aerator pulls cylindrical plugs of soil out of the ground. Going over the area with a rake and breaking these up will help return nutrients to the ground and prevent tripping.
- Water the lawn – Unless you expect rain the next day, the final step is to water the lawn lightly. This will help settle the soil and break up the aeration cores.
If you need an aerator, Clark’s Ace Hardware has an excellent selection for rental and purchase. You’ll find everything in our garden center to complete your landscaping project. Contact us today to learn how we can help you keep your lawn in shape.