Aeration: Breathe Life Back into Your Lawn

Everyone wants to have the perfect lawn. We all know the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but why can’t it be greener on our side of the fence?  One way to encourage the best looking lawn possible is to provide it with aeration. The process of aeration bores small holes into your lawn, which allows for water and air to circulate.

But you’ve probably never aerated your lawn before — you need to know how to do it and whether or not you even should do it. That’s where Love Your Yard comes to the rescue!

Signs Your Lawn Should be Aerated

If you notice your lawn is not accepting water as well as it used to, then it may be time to aerate it.  Certain signs and common usages can indicate a lawn needs aeration:

  • Your home was recently built. The soil around many new homes gets compacted, making it difficult for water and nutrients to penetrate it.
  • You put down sod. The very process of putting down sod means you’ve built your lawn in layers. The layers of soil may not be mixing well.
  • Your lawn gets a lot of foot and vehicle. The more it’s used, the more compacted the soil can be.
  • You have a thatch problem. Thatch is when a lot of undecomposed plant matter remains in your top soil — which limits growth possibilities for new plants. Thatch-heavy soil often feels spongy.

Root Depth in Your Lawn

A deep root system is a must to get the most out of your lawn. In general, your grass roots should be about 2 to 6 inches deep. A deep-rooted lawn allows more access to nutrients and its able to find deeper water. Deep roots also make your lawn more drought resistant.

If you’re not sure whether your lawn needs aeration you can cut a section of grass out to determine its needs. Cut the patch about 5-6 inches deep. If the grass roots do not exceed growth of two inches then your lawn should be aerated.

Preparing Your Lawn for Aeration

In the few days leading up to lawn aeration you should heavily water your lawn – about 1 inch of water should be applied. Although many lawns that need aerated have difficulty accepting water, get it as wet as you can. This allows you to really open up the most densely packed part of your lawn in the later steps of aeration.

Three Aeration Methods

There are a few ways that you can aerate – one is manually and one is mechanically.

  • Do-it-Yourself. Manual aerators are available in various forms –  lawn aerator shoes or even a pitchfork work well. These methods take a bit of time, but they can really pay off. Focus on a particular zone of your lawn at a time, otherwise you may forget what you’ve done. We would suggest you use your house as the center point of an “aeration grid” — complete each section before moving on the next.
  • Lawn mower add-ons. If you have a lawn tractor, there are tow-behind attachments that you can buy for under $300. You simple hitch it on and then pull it through your lawn in your regular mowing pattern. As you move along, the pitchfork-like spikes are driven into your lawn and aerate it. Another option are a set of tire spikes that you wrap around your tractor’s tires.
  • Aeration Machines. There are expensive machines that are able to aerate your lawn by physically removing plugs of turf from your lawn. Each plug is about two inches deep and a quarter inch wide. Though the machines are expensive, don’t worry, you can rent them from a local hardware store on an hourly basis. You should go over the same area multiple times from different angles to achieve maximum penetration.

After Aeration

Once you’ve completed aerating your lawn — or even a portion of it — you may want to step up your regular lawn maintenance efforts. Water it thoroughly and frequently to encourage that deep-root growth. Now that your soil isn’t so impenetrable, you should add the appropriate fertilizer too.

Have you got any further lawn aeration questions? Leave a comment or question below and the Love Your Yard team will try to address it in another post!

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