From time to time, as a homeowner, you will be required to do aeration to your lawn. This article will highlight the basics on how to aerate lawn using easy and quick DIY.
What is aeration?
This is the process of getting oxygen to the roots of plants or grass for your lawn. The process involves perforating the soil with small holes that will allow water, nutrients and air to penetrate the soil to reach the grass roots. This will help the roots to grow deep and stronger making a healthy lawn. With time, your lawn will get compacted and it is good to keep aerating.
If you deprive the grass of the common basic needs- water, air and nutrients the grass will grow thin and die over time. So it is important to do aeration after some time to make sure that the grass roots have access to the essential nutrients needed for development. The main question is whether you know how to aerate lawn.
Alleviating soil compaction is the main reason for aerating. Compacted soils, having too many solid particles will inhibit proper circulation of water, air and nutrients within the soil. When the soil has excess lawn thatch and heavy organic debris that have been buried under the grass surface, the grass roots could be starved from the essential nutrients, water and air.
Dethatching vs. aeration
What is a thatch? This is a layer of decomposing organic matter that forms below the lawn surface in the area between the grass and soil. A lawn with a thickness of more than half inches will limit the flow of air, water and nutrients that the grass need.
Dethatching will help in promoting aeration on the soil. Before you can proceed with how to aerate lawn, first understand the difference between the two.
When to aerate your lawn?
You will easily notice when your lawn needs aeration. For instance, if you find that water is finding it difficult to penetrate through the soil surface, it could be time to aerate your lawn. You will notice that clay soils and lawns with a lot of traffic will easily get compacted and might need aeration more often.
If you are not sure whether the lawn needs aeration, use a shovel to dig up a section of grass about six inches deep and examine. If you find out that the grass roots are not extending further than two inches deep into the soil, you might need to do aeration.
The following should serve as checklist if you are wondering if you need to do aeration:
- If your yard gets a lot of traffic, including children and pets; the soil will get compacted easily. In addition, if you use your lawn for activities like hosting your family and friends for barbecue, that part of lawn will for sure get compacted.
- If the lawn gets traffic from vehicles and small equipment driven over the lawn.
- If the soil dries out easily and has a spongy feel, there is excess thatch that needs to be removed.
- If your lawn has clay soils- it would be advisable to perform aeration once in a year to prevent your lawn from becoming thin and weak.
- If the lawn was established with a newly established home, the topsoil of the lawn could have been compacted during the construction.
- Lastly, if your lawn was established by sod and there is existence of soil layering you might need aeration sooner.
How to aerate lawn?
There are three aerating equipment that can be used:
- Spike aerators. These will poke a hole into the solid using a tine. There are aerator sandals that can perform the task as well. However, these sandals are perfect for a small lawn and can make compaction worse from the pressing of soil together around the holes.
- Plug aerators or core aerators. These use rows of hollow tines that will remove plugs of soil from your lawn and deposit them on top so that they can be broken down.
- Slicing aerators. Slicing aerators have rotating blades that slice through grass and thatch and down into the soil. They will leave the soil in the ground but will create passage of air, nutrients and water easier.
Before you can do aeration, prepare the lawn adequately.
Water the lawn two days prior. Water will ease the aerator penetration into the soil, making it easy to pull out soil cores.
Alternatively, aerate the lawn a day after a rain shower. Wait a few days before aerating an overly wet lawn. Trying to aerate when the soils are dry could prove to be tough.
When aerating, run the aerator over the lawn multiple times over the most compacted areas; the reason behind this is that he aeration machine might only cover a small percentage of the surface per single pass.
After Aeration, what next?
The soil cores can be left on the ground and allowed to decompose. Use compost to fill in the holes.
After this, apply fertilizer and grass seeds as this is the best time to do it. This will help the lawn get back on track quicker to produce a thicker, lusher lawn.