Have you ever walked on a golf course or someone else’s lawn and seen perfect little holes in the ground with evenly spaced cylinders of dirt sitting on top? For those who have never aerated, it might look like the strongest insects on the planet have moved in and made swiss cheese of the lawn. In reality, it’s one of the most beneficial maintenance procedures you can provide for grass, especially when the soil isn’t perfect.
What is aeration?
Aeration is the process of punching holes usually two to three inches deep and about half an inch in diameter throughout a lawn. These holes help break up the soil and allow air, water and nutrients to filter effectively to the root zone of the grass. The procedure typically involves a specialized aeration machine although it may be done manually using any sharp tool with those dimensions.
Why aerate your lawn?
Aeration is especially valuable in those places with hard, compacted or heavy clay soil types. These kinds of soils often prevent the proper amount of nutrients, water, and oxygen from getting down to the roots where they are needed most. Aeration helps break up those soils, penetrating down to a level where those beneficial plant growth supplements and H2O can work at increased efficiency. If you have a highly trafficked lawn thanks to kids or pets or see water standing for long periods of time in areas of your lawn, aeration is for you.
When do you aerate?
Aeration is beneficial to all turfgrass types and should be done during the lawn’s primary growing season. For cool season grasses like bluegrass and fescue, the best times are in the early spring and fall. For warm season grasses like bermuda, zoysia, and St. Augustine, later in the spring is preferred. You want optimum conditions for growth to ensure that the grass will recover quickly.
How do I aerate my lawn?
For do-it-yourselfers, aeration equipment can be purchased or rented at most local hardware or lawn and garden stores. You can find aerators and other turf equipment rental dealers on RYAN’s website as well. You can also buy aeration equipment from Amazon via the links below this article.
If you aren’t interested in putting in the sweat equity, annual aeration is usually offered as a service by lawn care companies.
- Make certain the soil is moist enough before beginning the process. It is recommended to aerate the day after a rain or watering event. Punching holes in hard, dry soil is tough!
- Be prepared to make multiple passes, especially over what appears to be the most compacted areas. Aeration machines cover only a small percentage of soil surface per pass.
Aeration isn’t just for lawns with soil problems. It is very common for the soil to get too compacted to optimize grass health. That is why aeration is an outstanding ‘healthcare’ technique for virtually any lawn.
The professionals that care for golf courses and sports fields aerate on a regular basis. It helps grass recover more rapidly from damage by allowing the essential components of oxygen, water, and nutrients to get right to the spot needed to provide for a healthier lawn. It is a great tool to promote your lawn’s health if done annually or at least every two years.
Once you have aerated your lawn, don’t forget to apply some Lawnifi® fertilizer to boost the performance of your grass!
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For more information on the importance of lawn aeration, read Why Aeration is More Important and Less Daunting Than You Think. To understand a better foundation of soil management for your lawn, check out our Soil Management for Lawns blog.