Why Aerating Your Lawn This Fall Matters
Great lawns do not just happen overnight. Sure, basic lawn care practices such as regular mowing, fertilizing, watering and weed control maintain a good yard. However, to get to a great lawn, you need to go deeper in your lawn care maintenance.
One fall lawn care practice that gets you that great yard is aerating your lawn. Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to reach the roots. Aerating your lawn solves two main problems. First, it opens up the sod layer to allow air circulation and more importantly nutrients to more easily reach the roots. Second, aeration also breaks up the thatch layer that has accumulated throughout the growing season. Both compaction (reduced air and nutrients) and thatch build up suffocates your lawn. A suffocated lawn is less green, less full and has a harder time fighting drought and heavy use.
Should I Aerate My Yard?
Generally speaking, your lawn should be aerated at least once a year. Timing for lawn aeration can vary based on the type of grass you have, but we will dig into that later. Let's start with besides once a year, how do you know your lawn needs aerated? The easiest way is to use a screwdriver or pitch fork to poke your lawn. If the sharp object easily enters the lawn down past the roots then your grass is aerated. Alternately, if the sharp object is difficult to push down, it may be time to loosen up the soil. Additionally, a lawn may need aerated more frequently based on soil type (clay more than loamy soil types) and use (more use versus less use). The best thing to do if you are unsure is to have a lawn care professional come out and provide an assessment of your lawn.
Timing of Aeration
As mentioned previously, a typical yard should be aerated at least once a year. The type of grass you are growing will dictate exactly when to aerate your lawn. For example, warm season grasses like Bermuda should be aerated in late spring before peak growing season. On the other hand, cool season grasses such as bluegrass can be aerated in early spring or during the fall. We are growing mostly cool season grasses in Pennsylvania so aerating in the fall makes a lot of sense. The cool season grasses are growing with cool, wet weather and will take advantage of the increased air, water and nutrients before winter.
Aerating your lawn may need to be done multiple times a year or for specific circumstances. In these cases, having a landscaping professional advise you on how to aerate your lawn or be able to use the right aeration machine is valuable. Weeds and other issues can arise from lawn aeration done poorly causing additional yard problems.
How to Aerate Your Lawn Yourself
Lawn aeration is a large project. The equipment needed to do it right is expensive to rent and difficult to use if you do not have the appropriate equipment. We recommend aerating your lawn using a landscaping provider in your area who is fully equipped and skilled in lawn aeration. Going this route will ensure it is done fast and done right. However, here are the four do-it-yourself aeration tips if you decide to tackle this project on your own.
There are two different ways to aerate your lawn. The first is called spike aeration. This method uses long, sharp spikes on a roller (or can be done by hand) to push soil down below the root layer to open up holes for water and nutrients. The second and more common method is plug aeration. Plug aeration is the process of removing a "core" of soil out of the lawn profile. Plug, or core, aerators generally provide more consistent results when aerating your lawn.
Lawn Aeration Expectations
Results from aerating your lawn do not happen overnight. Initially, your lawn will look "messy", but that will improve with each passing day. You should see a lusher, thicker lawn after several weeks post aeration. If done in the correct time of year, the grass will quickly take advantage of the increases in water, air and nutrients and fill in those holes with a much healthier yard.
To wrap up, aerating your lawn is important to:
Lawn aeration is an important step in lawn care maintenance and one that will lead to healthier yard.