Do you always enjoy seeing your well-manicured, greener, and healthy lawn? We all do. Nonetheless, you must conduct regular lawn maintenance practices like fertilizing, watering, and mowing to obtain such a vigorous property. However, aeration is paramount to achieving great grass as it boosts a steady flow of oxygen, moisture, and nutrients. For this reason, you must understand how to aerate lawn and the tools to use. Keep reading to learn more.
To aerate your lawn, rake the debris, leaves, and sticks off the yard; water the area one day before the exercise to make the ground moist but not muddy. Then, use any aeration tool to remove plugs of soil from the ground and allow them to dry. Break down these plugs with a lawn mower or the rake. Pay more attention to areas that receive more traffic or the ones with compacted soil.
What is Aeration?
Lawn aeration involves creating pores and breaking up thatch to loosen the soil and allow roots to grow deeper. When done correctly, aeration enables oxygen, moisture, and nutrients to reach the grass’s roots, allowing the turf to grow stronger.
How to Aerate Lawn
Before you aerate your lawn, there are things that you must do. First, understand how to carry out the entire process and determine your turf type to know the ideal time for aeration. You must also decide on the aeration equipment and ensure it’s readily available. From there, begin the operation by following the following aeration tips.
1. Prepare your lawn
It’s necessary to prepare the yard accordingly before starting the aeration process. To do this, remove the debris, leaves, and sticks from the area using a rake. Additionally, mow the grass to ease the penetration. Remember to turn off the sprinklers in the area before aerating.
2. Water the area
Aerating a dry area can be frustrating and time-consuming. So, moisten the soil by watering it a day before the operation.
3. Use aeration tools
Select aeration equipment that’s best for your yard depending on your preferences and lawn needs. The best thing is to rent an aerator machine from a rental center or any home improvement store near you. You can also use manual or hand aeration tools like a core, spike, or fork.
With any of this equipment, remove plugs of soil from the yard. Allow these plugs time to dry, and break them down by passing the lawn mower over them. Using the back of the rake to pound these plugs is also acceptable. Ensure you leave your lawn with a uniform and clean appearance.
4. Pay attention to sensitive parts
Some areas of your lawn receive heavy foot traffic, and neighbors use some parts as driveways. Furthermore, some parts with compacted soil and passing over them once with aeration tools may not help. Therefore, focus on these areas and aerate them twice if necessary for maximum results.
Aerate Lawn Tools
Here are the three main lawn aerating tools;
i. Plug aerator
Plug or core aerators remove the core of the turf and soil from the yard. The equipment uses 3.5-inch spikes to remove debris and loosen the dirt. This allows oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the grass’s roots.
ii. Spike aerator
Unlike the plug aerator, a spike aerator only loosens the soil by making or poking holes in the ground. This helps remove soil compaction but only for a short period. The tool doesn’t remove dirt from the lawn; hence less effective than a plug aerator.
iii. Slicing aerator
This tool consists of blades that rotate and cut through the turf and thatch down to the ground. Like spike aerators, this machine doesn’t remove soil from the ground. However, it allows for a better flow of oxygen, water, and nutrients and removes soil compaction for an extended period.
How Deep to Aerate Lawn
The best depth to aerate the lawn is at least 2-3 inches. To achieve this depth, hire a suitable aeration machine for the work. Some tools like spike aerators won’t achieve this depth, hence ineffective.
As for diameter, aerate approximately 0.5-0.75 inches and at least 2-3 inches apart.
Best Time to Aerate and Overseed Lawn
The best time to aerate and overseed your yard is during the growing season in the late summer or early fall. This helps the grass to recover easily and quickly after the operation.
Therefore, for warm-season grass types like Bermuda, aerate and overseed in the late spring or during early summer periods.
For cool-season turf varieties like Kentucky bluegrass, aerate in the fall or right before spring hits. This should be from February to the first week of March. Carrying out the process during early spring boosts the germination of weeds.
If your lawn receives heavy traffic, you must aerate it yearly. However, aerate and overseed once per two or three years for properties with no issues.
What to Do After Aerating Lawn
Once you aerate your lawn properly, it will be easier for grass roots to absorb water and vital nutrients. The turf will, therefore, grow healthier, stronger, and more vibrant. Nevertheless, after the aeration process, you must do the following;
- Leave the soil plugs for some time to dry and break down naturally. This allows oxygen, moisture, and nutrients to mix appropriately with the soil.
- Overseed the lawn with the same grass type in the yard.
- Apply pre-emergent herbicides to prevent weeds from growing. However, do not spray within the first four weeks of overseeding, as the herbicide will prevent the grass from growing.
- Fertilize the yard with an organic high-nitrogen fertilizer.
- Water adequately and consistently.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Can I aerate my lawn with a pitchfork?
A: Use a pitchfork or spading fork to aerate smaller areas rather than big yards. You do this by punching holes in the lawn layer as deep as possible, then enlarging them with the pitchfork. This is the most cost-effective way to aerate your lawn.
Q: Should I fertilize or aerate first?
A: You should aerate before adding fertilizer for a better oxygen flow and to allow the roots to grow deeper. Additionally, aerating before fertilizing enables the fertilizer to reach the deeper roots.
Maintenance practices like mowing, watering, and fertilizing are necessary to create a thicker and healthier lawn. However, aeration is as vital as these practices if you want a more vibrant and outstanding property. The process allows a better flow of oxygen, water, and crucial nutrients to the grass’s roots, thus strengthening your grass. For this reason, you need to know when and how to aerate your lawn.
First, prepare your lawn by raking debris and sticks off the yard and watering it one day before the exercise. Then, use any aeration tool to remove plugs of soil from the ground and allow them to dry. Break down these plugs with a lawn mower or the rake. Pay more attention to areas that receive more traffic or the ones with compacted soil.