Aerating Your Lawn – Frequently Asked Questions
We all know that lawns take time to coax into the beautiful landscapes we all love to enjoy. They can also be quite an investment, and as with other things we spend good money on, it’s essential to know how to take care of these assets. Choosing the correct seed for your region is key, as is watching for pests and addressing damage at the source. One of the more common maintenance chores for healthy lawns is aerating the soil in which your grass is growing. Here are some commonly asked questions you may find interesting reading:
Q: Can you describe the meaning of aeration?
A: Aeration is the physical removal of soil plugs from the soil to recreate air spaces and correct the problem of compacted soil.
Q: Why is compacted soil detrimental to a lawn?
A: Without air spaces, lawn roots cannot grow deeper in the soil. Less oxygen, water, and other nutrients are able to travel freely through the soil. Because of this, the lawn cannot grow as much and becomes easily stressed.
Q: How does aeration help?
A: Aeration re-creates the air spaces that are needed for the easy passage of water and nutrients. More water can be absorbed into the soil, and more oxygen can reach the roots.
Q: How can I tell if the soil is compacted?
A: The lawn will start to suffer, even if there is no change in your lawn maintenance. Runoff from irrigation is also more likely. If you have trouble sticking a writing pen into the soil, the soil is compacted.
Q: When should I aerate my lawn?
A: If your lawn’s soil needs to be aerated, do it at the beginning of the lawn’s growing season, and no less than 4 weeks before the end of the lawn’s growing season. This will be during the late spring and early summer for warm-season lawns, and early spring or early fall for cool-season lawns. If you aerate first, your reseeding and fertilizing will be more effective because there will be spaces for the seeds and fertilizer granules to fall into.
Q: How often should I aerate my lawn?
A: This will depend on the soil structure your lawn is growing in, as well as the amount of foot traffic your lawn sustains. More sandy soils might need only 1 aeration a year, while more clay-like soils might need two.
Q: How do I aerate my lawn?
A: Rent a core aerator from a landscaping company or garden supply store. Mow your lawn a little shorter than normal, and water it a couple of days before you aerate. Aerate on a day with mild temperatures. Run the core aerator twice across the whole lawn, in perpendicular directions. You should be removing 20 to 40 plugs per square foot, and each plug should be 2 to 3” deep and ¾” in diameter. Leave the soil plugs on the lawn to break down (you can rake across them to make the surface smoother). Continue with your regular lawn maintenance for the rest of the season.
Q: Can I use spikers to aerate my lawn?
A: No. Spikers do not remove soil from the lawn; they instead compress the soil further and make the compaction problem worse! Use only aerating tools that remove soil from the ground.
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