People who love and own a lawn do their research and try to nurture it the best ways possible. As a garden lover, you might be watering your lawn timely, using best fertilizers and manures. If you are doing all of these things, you’re probably already loving the results and are proud of your lawn. However, there’s one thing a lot of people fail to pay attention to- aeration. In order to keep your lawn healthy and aesthetically pleasing, aerating your lawn is one of the factors. This article signals the importance of aeration and guides you on how to aerate your lawn.
What is lawn aeration?
Just like you feel suffocated in a room completely filled with people, so does the soil in your lawn. In simple words, lawn aeration is loosening the soil to help it breathe. Lawn aeration means creating small perforations over the soil surface of your lawn. These little holes make sure that the soil layer below the grass receives all the needed nutrients. Besides nutrients, it also helps deliver water and air to the soil and ensure an overall health. There are various methods of lawn aeration that have their own benefits. Here’s a list of some of the common lawn aeration techniques.
You can aerate your lawn using a garden fork. This might leave your garden messed up. But, when you mow your lawn post aeration, it restores the regular appearance of your lawn.
You can also use a spiked roller to aerate your lawn. A spiked roller comes with a long handle and a steel cylinder. This is relatively better if your lawn is larger than you could manage to aerate using a garden fork. If you are looking for something that saves you efforts and yet is reasonable, you can use a spiked roller.
While using spiked boots can be really tiresome for a large or even a regular lawn, you can still use it for a very tiny lawn. It will give you the benefit of taking a walk along your lawn along with aerating it. Spiked boots are like a pair of snowshoes with a spikey base. You can tie this to the shoes you are wearing and walk around.
Why should my lawn be aerated?
While people make sure they add fertilizers to the soil, water it timely, the importance of lawn aeration is generally underrated. This is because the benefits of lawn aeration are very subtle. However, these subtle benefits add up to make a big difference in the appearance of your lawn.
- As time passes, the soil gets compacted. Because of the compaction of the soil, the roots of grass fail to dig deeper and grow. This in turn reduces their resistance against strong winds. When you aerate your lawn, the proliferations created in the soil give grass root spaces to crawl deeper and grow healthily.
- Aeration is also needed to help fertilizers carry out their function. When the soil is compacted, the fertilizer (just like grass roots) stays on the surface- which makes it useless. If you aerate your lawn, it helps the fertilizer to be absorbed by the soil.
- While thatch is something good, you still need to control the thickness of it. Thatch is basically a layer of dead grass, branches, and roots that protect the crown of the grass. However, when the layer exceeds 3/4th of inches above the crown, it becomes a storehouse for disease causing insects. When you aerate, you prevent the thatch layer from overthickening.
When should I aerate the lawn?
First of all, it is important to know how often you should aerate your lawn. If it is a regular home lawn, you don’t need to sweat a lot at it. An annual aeration will ensure the healthiness of your lawn if the soil is normal. But, if the soil on which the grass grows is the sub-soil or too clay-like, you might want to aerate your lawn at least twice a year. And then, there’s a whole another level of aeration required for sports turfs and golf courses. Since these are under constant use, they need to be aerated three to five times a year.
Note: When you aerate a sports turf, make sure the turf has tiny holes that are close to each other and deeply penetrated.
Now the question is- when exactly should you aerate your lawn? This depends a lot on the climatic conditions of the grasses in your lawn. With warm-season grass, you can aerate your lawn by the end of the spring. This means as soon as you aerate your lawn, newer grasses will start growing and will fill in the holes. For cool-season grass, it’s ideal to aerate during the fall; ensuring the grass gets a month’s growing period before frost.
There are certain things you should consider before aerating. Soon after you aerate, use fertilizer in your lawn. This helps since the space created from aeration helps the fertilizer penetrate deep and do its job. Also, before you start the aeration process, make sure you control weeds. This has to be done since the process of aeration can enhance the spreading of weeds. It is best to aerate when the soil has a bit of moisture. You know it is rightly moist when the soil is able to absorb one inch of water before aerating. This makes it quite obvious that you shouldn’t be aerating during a period of drought or extreme heat.
Who should aerate my lawn?
Whether you need a professional or aerating your lawn by yourself depends on certain things. You have to consider the amount of time it would take, the efforts, and the cost. Considering these factors, whether you decide to aerate yourself or hire a professional will help you make the best decision.
DIY seems like an amazing idea when you don’t have much to do and would rather pass your time aerating your lawn. If your lawn isn’t huge, you might like the idea of a DIY lawn aeration. All you need to do is- either purchase more manual and cheap tools or rent professional machines that’d make the job easy.
Hire a professional
If your lawn covers a larger area, you might want to hire a professional to do it. The reason why hiring a professional can be a better thing is they know the right tricks. They have been at it and know how to aerate just the right way. If you are a first timer, you might do it the wrong way. So, hiring some professional rules out the need to rent tools. It also gives you a chance to observe how to aerate.
Where can I find the tools to aerate myself?
You can go to a gardening store to purchase any aerating tool. It might vary from shop to shop if they rent their tools. Depending on what place you are located at, you might or might not be able to find an actual rental store for aerating tools.
Renting is a better option if you will only be aerating your lawn once or twice a year. Depending on the kind of aerator you buy, the rental charges would vary. Generally, you can rent any aerator that’d do a perfect job somewhere around $40 to $150 per day. Some of the places where you can rent an aerator are- Sunbelt, Home Depot, Ace, and United Hardware. Renting also depends on a condition if your lawn needs tractor to aerate as well. If yes, you’d rather want to call professionals do to the job.
But if you own a commercial piece of land, purchasing the equipment isn’t a bad option either. Also, purchasing aeration tools is justifiable only if you are sure you’d be aerating yourself every time and not hire a professional. And quite obviously, if you decide to aerate your garden using a garden fork or a spiked aerator, you would rather want to buy these affordable tools. You can buy a fork at a cost of $18- $30 and a spiked roller at a cost of $30- $60.
How do I aerate my lawn?
Before you decide to aerate your lawn, there are a few things you have to do. As previously mentioned, find out what kind of grass your lawn has (warm-season or cold-season). Also, depending on your stamina and how big your lawn is, rent or purchase the right tools. Don’t forget to water your lawn a day or two, prior to aerating. Now that you have done so, you are ready to start with the process of aeration.
Using a machine aerator
When you use a machine aerator, start by positioning the aerator at one corner of your yard. Now move forward and cover till the other corner of the yard. Repeat this process to cover rows till the entire lawn is covered. If you feel like certain places need more aeration, move the aerator in the opposite direction in that area.
Using a manual aerator
When you use a manual aerator, like a fork, you have to cover the entire lawn walking around digging with your fork. Here, you can manually control the amount of penetration based on what area you are aerating. If any part of your lawn needs more aeration, you simply dig there again with the garden fork.
Once you are done with the process of aeration, it is suggestible to add fertilizer to the soil. As already mentioned, right after aerating is the right time to add fertilizer. This makes sure the fertilizer reaches deep inside the soil and does its job. You can even add grass seed to the soil. After a while, you’d be able to notice how healthy your lawn looks. Don’t rest or give up right after the first time you aerate your lawn. A consistent aeration at least once or twice a year will ensure a sustained healthiness of your lawn, along with a giving it a good appearance. For more information on growing a healthy lawn see more articles in our Grass Seed 101 series such as Patching Bare Spots in Your Yard or Caring for Your Grass in Summer.
Nikki is a full-time homemaker with a love for plants, nature, and the outdoors. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in education, combining her talents and favorite hobby to write educational material for other plant and backyard enthusiasts. Co-founder of Backyardville, Nikki seeks insight for her blogs through reading along with hands-on research in her own yard and garden. Her experiences as a child growing up in a farming community and spending time with her gardening grandmother sparked an interest in growing plants and seeking ways to beautify the spaces around her. Nikki lives in a quiet suburb in Iowa with her husband and their two outdoor-loving children.