Why should you aerate the lawn?
Aeration is an essential step in lawn maintenance. Unfortunately, many property owners don’t realize this and try to cut corners by skipping it. Some assume that just adding water to the soil is enough to keep it loose and aerated. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t skip aeration:
- Heavy Traffic and Regular Use – If you walk and play on the lawn or drive vehicles over it regularly, it will eventually become compacted because of the weight and pressure. Newly constructed homes and properties also have heavily compacted soil due to the movement of construction vehicles.
- Compacted Soil Will Ruin Your Landscaping Efforts – Compacted soil won’t allow new growth; if you don’t loosen the soil before the growing season, your lawn will eventually become dry and barren. You will have to start the whole seeding and fertilization process again and that would add to your expense. If regular aeration is a part of your annual lawn maintenance routine, you won’t have to worry about excessive compaction.
- Excessive Thatch – You need aeration if you have an excessive layer of thatch. Anything over 1½ inch must be removed so the soil underneath can breathe and receive some sunlight.
- Improves Grass Health – When you aerate the lawn, you allow the sunlight, water, and nutrients to sink into the surface and reach the roots. This makes your turf stronger and ensures that your lawn looks lush and green. Aeration will also ensure the roots have more room to move and grow.
- Aeration Before Liming Can Help – Thorough aeration before liming can ensure the pH balance is restored at deeper levels rather than just on the surface. Aeration will also help new fertilizers sink deeper into the soil.
Methods to aerate the soil
Landscape professionals can use one of two tools to aerate their lawns; the spike aerator and the plug aerator. The spike aerator, as the name suggests, has thin spikes that poke holes in the hardened soil in order to loosen it. The plug aerator removes small plugs of the soil to loosen it. The latter is much more effective and provides better aeration. Experienced landscapers use plug aerators more often than spike aerators, especially if the soil is severely compacted.
When & How Often?
It’s important to follow a schedule when taking care of your lawn: from fertilization to aerating. If you perform this procedure at the wrong time, you will damage the grass and that will lead to ugly brown patches in your lawn. Here’s how you determine when you should aerate the lawn:
- Cool-Season Grass – Cool-season grass thrives during the cooler temperatures of fall. This variety of grass takes advantage of the slow weed growth during this season. You should aerate lawns with this type of grass four weeks before the frost sets in. This allows the new grass to grow and thrive before winter. You should aerate lawns with Creeping bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, Rough bluegrass, and Ryegrass during fall.
If you aerate the lawn too often, you will damage the grass and the delicate balance of dormancy and growth. If you don’t aerate the lawn often enough, your grass will suffocate, and the soil won’t support growth. There are two main types of soil in the Willamette Valley and textures can vary wildly so it’s vital to know what you’re working with before aeration.
- Clay Soil – Clay soil is sticky and wet. It can compact easily and become very hard when it dries down. This soil should be aerated once a year at the very least. You can aerate more often if you notice the soil becoming hard and compacted a few months after the previous aeration.
- Sandy Soil – Sandy and granular soil isn’t sticky and doesn’t retain water as easily as clay soil does. This type of soil won’t compact easily so you can aerate it once a year or in alternating years. You still need to aerate it because eventually the pressure and gravity cause compaction in sandy soil as well.
Proper and thorough aeration should be performed every year in order to maintain your lawn’s health. We recommend you call professionals to handle the task as they will have the right tools, skills, and knowledge. You can always contact Green Acres Landscape at 503-399-8066 to schedule a qualified crew to perform your aeration.