A lawn can be a small or wide area where you can grow plants or grasses. In these places, you need to keep the lawn in uniform short sizes and maintain as it is. Its purpose can be for aesthetic or recreational reasons.
Apart from regular mowing, aeration is a common maintenance method for lawns. Today we’ll be talking about aeration and how it can help you create a better lawn for your home.
What is an Aeration?
Lawn Aeration is a process by which air gaps are created in the soil to prevent it from being too compacted, thus preventing water and other nutrients from getting to the plants there.
The process includes puncturing holes into this hardened soil using spikes or removes some parts of the soil with a specific length. Commonly, this essential process for keeping your lawns alive and healthy is taken for granted. This care will help your plants and grass get nutrients easier, can breathe and it’s easy for the roots to sip the water.
Types of Aeration
Aeration of soil has two types. As mentioned above, you can either puncture with a spike or a manual removal of a part of your lawn soil. These two types are spike aeration and core aeration.
In spike aeration, a machine is used to puncture through the soil. This machine usually has one foot long spikes to create holes into the compacted soil.
While core aeration is just literally removing some parts of your soil and to loosen it up and let the water and air reach the roots and thus improve its infiltration.
Dethatching vs. Aeration
Grass are plants, and we can’t avoid thatches around it. Thatches are layers of good and dead grass roots. They’re visible to the naked eye, and its color is brownish. They mostly show up on between your soil and grass bed. They’re not as unhealthy as what you think to your lawn. Ideally, a good layer of thatch would be half-inch thick. Thatches help in keeping your lawn grow healthy and protects your grass from extreme temperatures.
But just like what they said, too much of something is unhealthy. It can cause serious problems in your lawn if it’s already too thick. During heavy rain, thatches hold a big amount of water and during the scorching summer heat, they also dry up faster in which both of it can cause root damage that greatly affects other healthy grass in your lawn. Not only that, they can also attract microbes and organisms that may causes diseases to your own family.
It’s advisable that excess thatches in your lawn should be removed. And this process is called dethatching. You can, either way, use a manual or mechanical tool to remove excess thatch in your lawn.
- Using a rake – you just simply use your lawn rake (not the small one) is dethatching when it’s not a huge lawn you have or thatches in your lawn isn’t that severe. Just push down deeply your rake and pull it back towards you. As simple as like you’re raking dried leaves during the autumn season. If you don’t on one, you can borrow from your next door neighbor or visit stores who allows garden tool rentals.
- Core aerator – this is when those thatches in your lawn are in severe cases. The Severe thickness of your thatches can cause impacted soil and this call for core aeration. In core aeration, you have three (3) options, and these are: buying an aerator machine, hire someone to do the job, or rent a machine and do it on your own. It solely depends on your budget.
When dethatching, you need to consider if the grass you had planted in your lawn if they are cool-season or warm-season grass. For cool-season grasses, the best time for them is during early spring and/or early fall seasons. While for warm-season grasses, dethatching is best during the late spring season. Right timing of dethatching will help those healthy grass recovers quickly from this stressful process and the same time that thatches are coming out.
Why Should You Aerate your Lawn?
You always hear people and read over the Internet that it is necessary to aerate your lawn, but how will you know if it needs an aeration? This is the most common mind-boggling question a lawn-owner asks. Check the list if your lawn needs aeration, or not.
- If your lawn dries faster, then your lawn contains excessive thatches. This is because thatches absorb water easily and then dries out faster, too. Using your finger or thumb, dig down your finger into your lawn grass and feel the soil. Once your thatches are beyond the recommended ½ inch thick, time to dethatch it and do aeration.
- When you notice soil layering in your lawn. When sod is present and visible to your naked eye, and its candidate for aeration because compacted soil will not allow the passing through of water and sunlight to the roots of your lawn grass.
- Foot traffic is also another reason. If people keep on stomping the grasses in your lawn. Foot traffic contributes to soil impaction that makes it advisable for aeration.
- Another cause of soil impaction is the construction traffic. If your lawn is part of building your home, and all the construction materials walk through in your lawn, then you must do aeration right after your house construction.
Benefits of Aeration
Aeration is not only essential as lawn care, but it’s vital. If you would like to keep your lawn healthy and green, then it’s recommended to perform aeration. It helps in quick absorption of water into the roots of your grasses. And it prevents soil compaction which inhibits air, sun, and water to pass through those roots. The oxygen which the air carries will be absorbed by roots and results to healthy roots of your plants. Nutrients and vitamins would be easily absorbed by plants, too. Once your lawn underwent aeration, it also decreases the chance of soil erosion and your plants are more heat-resistant and drought-resistant because they can breathe easily since air can pass through and so as for heat. All these benefits will not only benefit your plants, as well as your home and family. A clean and healthy lawn keeps organisms and insects away, too.
The Best Time for Aeration
Like what was mentioned earlier, the best time in dethatching your lawn is also the same with aerating. If you planted cool-season grass, perform aeration during early spring or fall season. And if you have warm-season grass in your lawn, it’s best to aerate late spring season. This is to allow your plants recover easily because this procedure is too stressful for your plants.
How Often to Aerate Your Lawn?
Depending on the soil type you’re using for your lawn must be taken into consideration when talking about how often should this procedure be done.
- Sandy lawn – if your lawn is made from sandy soil, then it’s advisable to aerate annually or every other year. This kind of soil doesn’t get compacted easily.
- Clay soil – since clay soil compacts easily, it’s recommended to do it twice a year or at least once in a year. Plants in clay soil have difficulty absorbing nutrients and air and water can’t pass through easily because of its clay content.
- Arid Weather – if you’re living near the equator, it’s best to aerate your lawn twice a year. This will enhance a healthy growth of your turf plants.
- Mixed soil – if your lawn is composed of a different type of soil because it also has a different kind of plants in there, aerate frequently. Check the thickness of thatch and if it’s thicker than ½ inches, time to aerate your lawn.
Steps in Aerating
If you already checked your lawn and you think you need to do it. Here are guidelines for your lawn aeration.
- Moisten your lawn – It is important to moisten your lawn first. If it’s dry, spray it with water. You can also aerate your lawn the day after a rainfall. If you aerate your lawn while it’s compacted and dry, it will just drain your energy and will take a lot of effort when dethatching and I know you don’t want that.
- Saving energy – Better focus more on areas that are highly affected with impaction only. Leave out that area of lawns where there’s no soil compaction is happening. This is because aeration machines aren’t huge nor big enough to cover wide areas of your lawn. This way too will help you save your energy, especially when you’re doing the job on your own.
- Dry and Break Down – those excavated plugs in your soil should be dried first before breaking them down. Though it’s needless to manually break these plugs it will give a clean look in your lawn. You can use your rake to do this.
- Myth – there’s still no evidence claimed regarding the lesser effect of pre-emergent herbicide as the barrier and its function may be affected when you perform aeration. These are only hearsays.
- Repeat – since aeration machine doesn’t fully cover your lawn area, repeatedly run over your lawn once or twice to make sure other areas are also covered.
- Continue – after aeration is done with your lawn, continue your lawn care like fertilization, mowing, watering, etc.
All these are essential and has a beneficial effect on your lawn beautification. Your plants will thank you by giving you the healthiest and beautifully green as they can be because you let them breathe and happy again.
Right after performing aeration to your lawn, it’s unpleasant to look at because there would be plugs scattering all over your lawn. This normal and as days went by they will be mixed with other soil and breaks down.
After a week, you will notice in your aerated holes some white roots inside. These roots you will see means you did a great job. Grass’ roots are developing healthy and able to get the nutrients they needed for growth.
In addition, retention of water increases in your lawn is observed every time you perform aeration. Your lawn will have an increase absorption of water that will make a healthier, lively, and greener lawn at home.
Aeration and Dethatching Tools and Machines
- Plug Aerators -this tool is simple to use. You just need to deep it in your lawn soil to poke and make holes while collecting a sample of your sole, thus creating a plug.
- Spike Aerators – its design is like the fork used in our kitchen, but it’s bigger and intended for lawn use. Just like plug aerators, you just need to hit the soil to create holes using its sharp spikes, but it doesn’t collect any sample at all.
- Agri-Fab 45-0299 Machine – an aerator machine that’s worthy of it price. This machine comes with 32 plugged knives, flat-free tires, can cover up to 48 inches wide of aeration path, and it’s only 93 pounds.
- Yard Butler Lawn Aerator – if your lawn isn’t that wide or only a small space of your lawn was impacted, use this manual tool. This tool only has two Butler spikes and you can use your foot to step on the metal. Avoid putting too much weight when using the Butler, it may cause bending of the metals.
- Electric Dethatcher – it’s okay to use a rake for lawn if your lawn isn’t that wide. You can just use it to simply dethatch by scrapping them off. But if your lawn is wide, then spend some penny for an electric dethatcher. It will make your work faster and more convenient since it isn’t manual.
To help you decide, plug aerator is a better tool than spike aerators because they can’t take plug sample. In fact, it can also cause some soil impaction. Plug aerators don’t only aerate your lawn soil but also helps in removing some part of it creating plug holes. This will make your plants be able to recover as fast as it could. A plug aerator is ideally having 3 inches space between other plugs, plugs of 3 inches deep, and 0.5 inches circumference of its plug.
Myths of Lawn Care
Lawn care does also have myths, they don’t only happen in movies. It also exists in our backyards. These myths prevent us from doing what’s right and healthy for our lawn and just merely following what other people say. Let’s clear things out to own a healthier and greener lawn in the neighborhood.
- Watering plants every day. It isn’t applicable to all plants. There are some plants doesn’t need all the special care every day. Watering them every day make cause their death. You must take into consideration the weather, type of plant, and soil used. It would be better to frequently water your lawn because its roots would dig deeper into the soil.
- Grass clippings create thatches. Those grass that had been cut-off after mowing and leaving it there actually doesn’t make into thatches. These grasses can be recycled since it is mostly composed of water which it’s easily decomposed. This grass clipping adds nitrogen to your lawn soil once it is decomposed.
- Rake all leaves. No need to spend a lot of your time and energy raking all the leaves, especially in the fall season. Get your lawn mower and run over these fall leaves in your lawn. They’ll be chopped into pieces and let them decompose there. And you know what happens? Re-read number two.
- Spikes shoes as an aerator. This isn’t as effective as what it looks like. It might be convenient for manual aeration but it’s not advisable. Spike shoes don’t achieve your desired deepness of holes created by it. And, it can cause another impaction problem since your body’s weight is pushing the impacted soil even more. The best way for aeration is to create plug holes. Don’t throw away your spike shoes in the bin, because they’re of great help when killing grubs.
- Moles doesn’t mean there are grubs. If you were thinking that killing grubs in your lawn will help the disappearance of moles, think again. Moles don’t only eat grubs, they also love earthworms. To identify if there are moles in your lawn, check if there are patches of soil in your lawn or grass that can be easily pulled up. These are signs that moles are creating tunnels underneath your lawn.
- Short grass needn’t be mowed. You’re afraid of damaging your lawn soil if you were thinking to cut your grass lawn very short. Another reason is that shorter cut grass also has shallow roots which cause to be easily removed from the soil. Or you might think that short grass lawn will help weeds grow rapidly, too. Everything is a total myth. It’s advisable to cut your grass lawn not more than 1/3 of the blade surface in one mow.
- Dandelion control over Spring. Dandelions are beautiful to look at but you don’t want them in your lawn since they’re considered as a type of weed, a perennial weed to be specific. Spraying drifts over spring won’t help that much. Better apply weed killer over your lawn and the plant will absorb them to their roots delivering it deep down and it will do the dandelion killing for you.
Lawn care isn’t easy as it is. It can take so much of your time, effort, and money. Well, there’s no other way for you to achieve a greener and healthier lawn at your backyard. Don’t take aeration for granted. Sometimes, small things will result to great achievements.