There are many reasons to aerate your lawn, which can drastically improve the health of your soil and grass root system. But what does aerating your lawn do for your grass’ health, and when should you aerate your lawn?
Here are 5 benefits of aeration, reasons to aerate your lawn, and more information about when to aerate your lawn and whether you should try it on your own, or hire a professional lawn care service.
What does aerating your lawn do? 5 benefits of aerating lawns
Should you aerate your lawn? Absolutely. Especially if you haven’t done so in a couple of years, or don’t know when it was last aerated. The 5 main benefits of aerating your lawn are to improve root system health, improve soil health, remove thatch, create better drainage for your lawn, and to prepare your lawn for winter. Here, we’ll elaborate on the benefits and answer in detail, “why should you aerate your lawn?”
- Improve soil health
First and foremost, aeration, specifically core aeration, helps reduce soil compaction that results from the regular use of your outdoor space. Compacted soil can’t drain or absorb water or nutrients properly. Aeration helps nutrients penetrate deeper into the soil, balancing the soil’s pH and hydration levels.
2. Improve root system health, thereby improving grass health and appearance
Once nutrients are able to penetrate the soil more deeply, they can reach more of the grass’ root system. Roots can then absorb more of the minerals, air and water that they need to grow and thrive. Strong root systems mean stronger, thicker, and healthier grass and a lush lawn in time for summer.
3. Remove thatch from beneath the lawn’s surface
Thatch build up is the natural result of regular lawn care, but can cause stress for your grass over time. Thatch is the natural buildup of organic matter, like dead grass and small twigs, that can prevent water and nutrients from penetrating the soil. Core aeration removes some of the thatch on the surface of the soil, beneath the grass blades.
4. Create better drainage and absorption of water
Compacted soil, damaged grass, and thatch build up can prevent water from easily being absorbed into the soil. Aeration penetrates the soil, allowing your soil to act like a sponge for rain and water from your hose or sprinkler system. Heavily compacted soil can cause water to puddle, pool, or runoff into the street, creating flooding in other areas. Aeration allows water to stay put and nourish your lawn.
5. Prepare and protect your lawn from a long, dormant winter season
During the winter, grass and other plants become dormant. Harsh winter temperatures, snow, and ice build up can sometimes damage your root system. Aeration helps prepare your turf for more resilient grass by allowing the deeper penetration of nutrients and grass seed, which can stay buried deep until the spring thaw when your grass “springs” to life and experiences rapid growth.
When is the best time to aerate your lawn?
As mentioned in benefit 5, the harsh winter months mean dormancy for plant life. Spring arrives and grass begins implanting and growing as soon as temperatures rise and the ground thaws. Because it can be difficult to know when temperatures will reach the right levels for growth, it’s best to aerate in the fall.
After aeration, reseeding and adding fertilizer or organic compost can help ensure you get ahead of the spring growing season and give your lawn the opportunity to thrive next season. Anytime during the months of late August through September is a great time to aerate and reseed your lawn. If you miss this opportunity, early spring aeration is and reseeding is best.
Core aeration versus spike aeration: core aeration benefits
What are the benefits of core aeration versus spike aeration, and what’s the difference?
Core aeration involves deep penetration into the soil with the removal of soil “plugs”. These plugs of soil are small cylinders of dirt and other organic matter, which are narrower than the width of your thumb. Removing soil plugs through core aeration is best for allowing added nutrients, water and oxygen to penetrate the turf.
Spike aeration is the process of creating aeration holes in the turf without removing the soil plugs. Sometimes, this can further compact the soil, leaving you with even worse absorption issues than you started with. For this reason, core aeration is often more effective.
Should you aerate your lawn yourself?
If you’re wondering how to aerate your lawn and whether you should hire a professional to do the job, the decision will most likely come down to whether you have the tools and equipment to do so. Core aerators can be rented from some home and garden stores, and splitting the cost with a friend or neighbor who also needs to aerate can make it more cost effective. Both manual and machine aeration tools are available for purchase
It might be worth the expense to hire a professional if you have a large outdoor space or want to learn what proper aeration should look like and how it could affect your lawn’s nutrient absorption.
So how do you aerate your lawn if you decide to do it yourself? Follow these steps:
- Make sure your lawn is properly watered and remove any large organic or other debris.
- Carefully read warning labels and operating instructions before beginning.
- Take multiple passes over your lawn, concentrating on heavily compacted areas.
- Allow soil plugs to dry and decompose on the grass surface. You can break up cores of soil for even distribution of organic matter by using a rake, or by mowing over them. If you choose to break them up with your mower, you may need to sharpen the blades afterward.
- Apply grass seed if needed, an organic compost top dressing if needed, and continue maintenance and watering as usual.
If all of this sounds like more work than it’s worth, don’t worry. Lawn aeration services are included in all of our late summer and fall lawn care packages, no matter which one you choose. Get in touch with your lawn care experts today for a free estimate.