You may have heard from your neighbors or read from reputable sources that aerating your lawn regularly is an important part of promoting the health of your grass and other plants. But what exactly are the benefits of lawn aeration, when should you do it, and how does it lead to healthier grass?
The soil in your lawn becomes compacted every time you walk, mow, or play football on your grass. This heavy traffic can reduce the size and number of pores in the soil, which hinders airflow to the roots of the grass. Plant roots NEED air to survive. If the soil is compacted, the roots will suffocate and die. Moreover, vital nutrients, water, and fertilizer can travel through loose soil much more easily than compacted soils. Furthermore, grass roots will have far less trouble extending into loose soil to extract these nutrients. A regularly aerated lawn will also encourage a healthy plethora of microorganisms that can decompose organic material and lawn thatch. Remember, too much thatch is a bad thing. A moist barrier of thatch can prevent water and nutrients from distributing throughout your lawn–increasing the risk of lawn disease.
While a lawn can benefit from an aeration every year, there are a few tests you can do to give you a better feel of where your lawn is. First, grab a screwdriver and try to push it deep into the ground. In compacted soil, you won’t be able to push it down very far. Next, grab your shovel and try to dig up some turf. If it is a struggle to get farther than a depth of half the blade, your soil needs to be aerated.
A lawn aerator removes small portions of soil from your lawn in cylinder-shaped plugs, allowing thick, compacted soil to expand into the vacated spaces as the grass grows. Commonly, four-inch-long and half-inch diameter plugs are removed every two to six inches across your yard. The dimensions of the aeration plugs are usually dependent on the type of soil and the amount of traffic each area of grass receives.
Lawns usually require a walk-behind aeration machine, which can be purchased or rented from most hardware stores. It might be necessary to plan ahead, however, since most homeowners will be aerating their lawns during specific seasons. Ideally, aeration should be performed for cool-season grass in the early spring or fall, and in the late spring for warm-season grass. We offer lawn care services in O’Fallon, MO, Kansas City, Wichita, Springfield, and Tulsa, OK.