Why Lawn Aeration is Important

Your lawn needs to breathe. Every time you step on your lawn, mow your grass,  or allow your children to play in the yard, your lawn soil becomes a little more  compacted. Minimal use usually isn’t a significant problem. Seasonal freezing  and thawing can help keep your soil loose, as well as the occasional earthworm  working his way through your lawn. For most homeowners, though, annual or  bi-annual lawn aeration is important to keep a lawn healthy and disease-free.

Your lawn needs loose soil for several reasons. Vital nutrients, water,  fertilizer, and pesticides will more easily move into loose soil. Plus, grass  roots will more easily extend into the soil to extract these nutrients. An  aerated lawn will also promote a healthy population of microorganisms that  breakdown lawn thatch. Left unchecked, a spongy layer of thatch can block water  and nutrients from reaching your lawn and will leave it more susceptible to  disease.

Aerating Your Lawn So how does it work? A lawn aerator removes soil  plugs from your lawn allowing compacted soil to expand into the empty spaces as  the grass grows. A typical pattern involves removing 1/2 inch diameter plugs  every 2-6 inches across your lawn. A good sized plug is 1-6 inches long. The  dimensions of aeration plugs depend mostly on the type of soil you have and how  compacted it has become.

Hand aerators are available, but unless you’re a glutton for punishment, it’s  best to rent an aerating machine or talk to a lawn service company. Plan ahead.  There’s an aerating season, and you won’t be the only one aerating your her  lawn. To reduce the cost of the rental, you should ask around your neighborhood  and see if you can get a small group to go into together for an aerating  machine.

Make sure the aerator you choose will actually remove the soil plug. Some  aerators simply push the soil down to create the space. These aerators are less  effective and can contribute to soil compaction.

When and How Often? This depends on the type of grass and the type  of soil you have for your lawn. You should aerate your lawn just before its  active growing season. You’ll need to identify your grass species. Warm season  grasses begin their growing period at the beginning of the summer. Cool season  grasses begin their growing period at the end of the summer. A quick call to a  local lawn service company can usually get you this information.

If your lawn is clay based, you should ideally aerate your lawn twice a year.  Sand-based lawns can typically get by with annual lawn aeration. This is only a  guideline and will be influenced by how much you use your lawn. If you’re  uncertain, you can pull out a small section of your lawn at least six inches  deep and see how far the grass roots extend. If the roots only go down an inch  or two, it’s probably a good idea to aerate.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling  industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national  topics within the home improvement industry.
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