Every homeowner should be able to aerate their own lawns. However, the choice of aerating tool will depend with the results desired. You might want to poke holes into the soil or remove soil plugs. The latter will loosen the soil to have the air reach into the soil. On the contrary, punching holes could cause additional compaction in the soil. There are two main reasons for aerating- thatching and soil compaction. One will need the best plug aerator depending on the size of the lawn to achieve the best results.
For small yards, a homeowner could opt to use a manual aerator. Strap-on shoes could be used to punch holes in the soil but they won’t remove the soil cores. On the other hand, automated aerators will remove the soil plugs. The other option would be using ionized soil conditioner. The solution helps the soil particles loosen.
Should you find the cost of getting a new plug aerator, you might consider renting an aerator. Remember, you won’t be aerating your lawn frequently- so you might decide to rent an aerator whenever you need to aerate the lawn. However, make sure you rent the best plug aerator for the task.
Aerating will also help remove thatch that might weaken your lawn. Thatch form when pieces of grass die and gather above the soil. When these pieces build up, it may be hard for them to naturally decompose. They therefore create a barrier that prevents water and air from reaching the grass roots.
Best Plug Aerator Buying Guide
Get a model that is within your budget. There is no need to break the bank getting a model that is out of your budget. Conduct an extensive research before making the purchase.
The best plug aerator should be able to deliver on the best penetration. Get a model that can get deep into the compact soil and deliver on better aeration.
Some plug aerators will be made of stainless steel while others will be made of other materials. The best is the stainless steel as it as has more durability. They are also lightweight as well. Take caution purchasing the plastic models as they break easily. You might like them for being light.
When looking for the best machine to buy, get one that is powerful and will deliver quality performance. Check the output and input power before purchasing one.
Knives or spikes.
Identify if you need a plug aerator with spikes or knives before making your order.
What is aeration?
Soil aeration can be defined as the process of perforating the soil with small holes that help air, nutrients and water to penetrate the grass roots. The roots will in turn grow deep and the result will be a good looking lawn.
Why do you need to aerate your lawn?
Even with the best plug aerator, you need to understand why you need to aerate your lawn. Your lawn needs aeration for the nutrients, water and oxygen for continued growth. This seems to be the main reason for lawn aeration. Also, there are times of the year when the ground gets compacted and need to be loosened- late summer and early spring. The best pull behind plug aerator should help you open up the soil surface allowing the grass roots to get moisture and air needed for healthy growth.
By aerating your lawn, you will be perforating the soil with small holes that will eventually allow nutrients, water and air to penetrate the grass roots. The result will be deep rooted and strong grass for your lawn.
Soil compaction is the main reason for aerating the soil. Alleviating soil compaction is one of the main reasons for soil aeration. With the soil being compacted, the circulation of water, air and nutrients within the soil is restricted. This may result to excess lawn that buried under the grass that can starve the grass roots from getting the required elements.
Soil compaction restricts water infiltration into the soil, water and crop nutrient uptake, grass emergence and root penetration. This will prevent your lawn from growing in a good manner.
Effects of soil compaction
When the soil particles get compressed together, the spaces available for air, water and nutrients is reduced. So, what are some of the effects of soil compaction on both lawn development and soil quality?
- There is reduced water infiltration rate into the soil.
- Reduced lawn emergence caused by soil crusting.
- Since the water filtration is restricted, cases of surface soil water logging, water ponding and water runoff becomes common.
- Lawn development is restricted.
- Reduced rate of which the water penetrates into the soil root zone.
Best time to do lawn aeration
Vehicles and the equipment driven on lawns do cause soil compaction. If you find out that the grass looks stressed, water puddles up on the surface where it used to be absorbed, you soil might be highly compacted. “Screwdriver test” should confirm your suspicions. Get a screwdriver and stick it in your soil. For well aerated soil, the screwdriver should slide fairly. However, if you meet resistance, the soil is compacted and aeration should be done.
The best time to aerate your lawn is during the growing season when the grass can recover quickly after the soil plugs have been removed. However, this should not restrict you to wait for the growing season to do this. If you have the cool season grass, aerate your lawn in the early spring or during fall. On the contrast, those with warm season grass should do it in the late spring.
The main aerating tools are the spike aerator, plug aerator and slicing aerators.
Spike aerators poke holes in the ground using a solid tine. They come with a design of a fork. You will place your foot in the provided foot hole and push down should you wish to use a spike aerator. You will pull it out and repeat on that area that you need to perform aeration.
Plug aerators on the other hand remove a plug of grass from your lawn. Aerator plugs are the best to aerate your yard as removing plugs of the soil will result in better results.
The third tool is the slicing aerators. These tools have rotating blades that slice through the grass and layer of thatch into the soil. They leave the soil in the ground and the process will create pathways for the water, air and nutrients.
The good thing is that these aerating tools can be rented. You don’t have to spend a lot of money buying an aerating tool that will be rarely used. Check your local lawn and garden stores. On this note, make sure to follow the rental companies’ basic operating instructions.Important tip: Make several passes in different directions to help with optimal coverage and benefits as well.
Aerating your lawn
Use flags to mark locations of the septic lines, shallow irrigation lines and sprinkler heads before aerating
For the highly compacted soil, two passes should be enough while one pass would do for the lightly compacted soil. What I mean is that most aeration machines will cover only a small percentage of soil surface per pass. Therefore, to ensure you get the best results, make multiple passes over these compacted areas.
Before aerating your lawn, apply one inch of water to soften the soil a day prior. It is important to ensure that the soil is moist enough. A rain shower will save you the cost of watering your lawn.
After the aeration, you might want to leave the soil cores to decompose. They will break down in rain or crumble the next time you mow. Also, apply fertilizer after you aerate. Observe the lawn maintenance practices that include mowing, fertilizing and watering.
What are the benefits of aerating your lawn
- Better root growth by having space for air, nutrients and water to circulate.
- Important for the microorganisms that help with compositing activities in the soil.
- Aeration reduces thatch. You need to note that excessive thatch creates conducive environment that tolerates pests and diseases.
- Aeration reduces soil compaction. Loose soil allows the grass roots to penetrate deeper into the soil in search of water and nutrients.
- Aeration enhances seed germination. Seeds will germinate easily when there are aeration holes.
Having seen the benefits of aerating your lawn, it is evident that for the DIY homeowners, you will need a lawn aerator. Let us know what you think about our choice for the best plug aerator in the comments section below.