Lawn Aeration is a key aspect for good lawn care and maintenance. To start with, it is important to understand what lawn aeration is and why it is so important for the good health of any lawn.
Lawn aeration involves the removal of tiny soil plugs out of the lawn, or the creation of spiked, tiny holes, with the intention of allowing freer movement of air into the soil. Lawn aeration is most commonly done mechanically with a machine that has hollow tines or spoons mounted on a disk or drum. The way the machine works is that it extracts up to 3/4 inch diameter cores of soil and deposits them on the lawn. This is called ‘core aeartion’.
There are other types of lawn aerators that just push solid spikes into the soil without removing any plugs. The danger in these types of aerators is that they sometime contribute, rather than help prevent, soil compaction.
Lawn aeration has many benefits that greatly contribute to creating a healthy lawn. The most important one is the fact that it helps fight compaction of the soil. Compaction reduces the pore space within the soil that usually holds air. Air is vital to good lawn care and maintenance. The grass roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. It can also be a physical barrier to root growth.
Proper core aeration will result in numerous benefits for your lawn. It will result in excellent top growth and good lawn health. Aeration also increases the activity of soil micro-organisms that decompose thatch and greatly increases water, oxygen and nutrient movement into the soil. Aeration will also tend to dramatically improve rooting and helps prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas on a lawn.
When can lawn aeration be done? The answer is at any time, as long as the ground is not frozen. It is also advisable not to do any aeration when it is hot and dry as moisture in the soil is very important for good aeration. Actually lawns are supposed to be watered well a day before the scheduled aeration. Very wet lawn conditions are also not suitable for aeration.
Lawn aeration is best done when cores are pulled out and deposited on the lawn. On lawns that are thatchy in nature, it is imperative to leave the cores on the lawn where they will slowly work their way back into the grass. In other situations the core can be removed.
If you are not sure of exactly when your lawn may require aeration, then simply extract a square foot off the lawn and carefully observe the roots. If they extend for only about 2 inches into the soil then it means that your lawn soil may be compacted and can greatly benefit from core aeration.
Other situations that cry out for aeration include where your lawn is heavily used or driven upon on a regular basis. In such cases you will sometimes note that the turf has greatly thinned and the grass generally looks unhealthy. In situations where your lawn soil is heavy clay soil, regular and intensive lawn aeration is often required.
The best time to aerate lawns will depend on the type of grass and the area. However generally speaking, tall fescue and Kentucky blue grass are best aerated in late August to mid September. This is usually the beginning of a rapid growth phase for this type of grass. This ensures that lawns will recover quickly after aeration. Warm season grass types are best aerated during June and July, their period of vigorous growth. Lawns can generally be aerated once a year, especially where there is heavy use.
In a few cases, aeration may not be required. This is in situations where the lawn is not subject to compacting or compacting pressures, like heavy use. Also a newly established and seeded lawn should not be aerated in its’ first year.