How to Aerate Your Lawn
If you're hoping to take better care of your lawn this year, you probably want to do everything you can to give it the best chance to thrive.
If you're not yet sure how to aerate your lawn, this will make a huge difference in its health and appearance.
According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 7 in 10 Americans with lawns or landscaping report that their lawn could use some improvement.
We've got everything you need to know about aerating your lawn, so read on to learn more.
Why Should You Aerate Your lawn?
Aeration is when air channels are created within soil. This allows nutrients, roots, and water to more easily move within that soil.
This is an often overlooked part of lawn maintenance, and it's a valuable tool to help your lawn grow.
When your grass is compacted, it's difficult for solids (fertilizer) and liquids (water) to penetrate right through all of the layers and reach the roots of the grass.
By aerating the lawn, you provide space for this food and water to get down to the roots and feed them with the nutrients they need.
Just like anything living, your lawn needs to be able to breathe. Each time you mow your grass, step on your lawn or encourage the kids to play in your yard, your soil becomes more compacted.
Signs You Should Aerate Your Lawn
Ideally, your lawn should be aerated every 6 to 12 months. This allows the grass roots to easily extend up into the soil and extract the nutrients they need.
Aerated lawns also encourage a healthy population of micronisms. These micronisms breakdown lawn latch. This is a spongy layer that can stop nutrients and water from reaching your lawn, leaving it more susceptible to disease.
Here are some signs your lawn may need to be aerated:
- You notice the soil is compacted
- You can see pools of water either in spots or throughout your lawn after it has been raining
- Your lawn doesn't seem to retain water and the water runs straight off when you water it
- Your lawn has many worn areas, particularly in parts where there is a lot of foot traffic
- You can see a lot of thatch
The Different Types of Lawn Aeration
The lawn care industry is currently growing by 3.5% each year. This is because so many Americans are either low on time or experience and prefer to hire someone to look after their lawn.
But it's easy to learn how to aerate your lawn, and once you've completed it once, you'll have no problem getting the job done each year.
The best time to aerate is at the beginning of spring and early fall. If you've decided to only aerate once a year, it's better to do it in the spring as your lawn will be growing and aeration will help it thrive.
If you feel a little overwhelmed at the idea of learning how to aerate your lawn, remember that aeration is basically just poking holes in the soil.
This helps to break up any of the compacted soil that has been cutting off the growth of the lawn.
Here are some different types of aeration:
Spike aerators poke holes into the ground. Some people will just use a garden fork to the job. But when you aerate your lawn with a spike tool, you can actually make the problem worse.
Some experts believe that spike will actually push the soil away from the hole when you push it into the ground. This basically means that tiny compacted areas are created around each hole. This defeats the purpose of aerating in the first place.
Other experts say that this type of aeration is completely fine. And it can be a good option if you don't want to have to hire equipment or pay someone to aerate your lawn. You can even aerate your lawn by walking on it with lawn aerator sandals.
Plug aeration is when you actually remove plugs from the turf, instead of just compacting the soil. This creates a passage and allows fertilizer, air, and water to get to the roots of your lawn.
Your first option is to hire a machine aerator. It removes the plugs and then drops them onto the surface of the lawn when it's finished.
If you have a small lawn or plenty of time, you can use hand-operated tools. A hand aerifier is a set of hollow tubes on a spading fork. You'll push the hollow tubes into the soil and then pull them out, removing the soil cores.
As the name suggests, liquid aeration is when you use liquid to aerate your lawn. There are many different products on the market, and they can loosen the soil deeper than what is possible with core aeration.
Liquid aeration products contain a wetting agent which carries the materials down into the lawn. It also includes food for microbial life, like kelp and humates. You'll also find bacteria or enzymes that are created to break down any thatch in your lawn.
While core aeration works rapidly, the effects aren't as long lasting. This is why it should be completed every 6-12 months. Liquid aeration doesn't have the same immediate impact, however, the effects last for longer. Liquid aeration is also accumulative.
For best results, a combination of both core and liquid aeration will get your lawn into tip-top shape. The core aeration allows the liquid to better penetrate your lawn and work faster.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
Now that we've covered your aeration options, let's look at how to aerate your lawn.
- First, you need to make sure the soil is moist. Water your lawn a day or two before you plan to aerate, or wait for a rain shower.
- Make sure you make multiple passes over your lawn's most compacted areas. Whether you're using spike or plug aeration, you'll need to make sure you break up the large clumps of soil.
- If using plug aeration, leave the excavated plugs to dry. Then, break them up by pounding them with a spade or rake or running over them with a lawnmower.
- Aerating is just one step of great lawn care. You'll also need to continue regularly watering, mowing, weeding, and fertilizing your lawn.
Do you regularly aerate your lawn or are you planning to this spring? Let us know in the comments below.