Simple, regular maintenance tasks go a long way in creating a thicker, healthier lawn. But jobs typically reserved for once a year can play a significant role in supporting smaller steps taken across the months. For many homeowners, aerating lawns to relieve soil compaction and enhance grass growth is a regular annual task. So, why aerate? Almost any lawn can benefit from aeration when it’s timed well and done properly.
What Is Aeration?
Why Aerate? Aeration is the naturally occurring process of air exchange between the soil and its surrounding atmosphere. Practically speaking, aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn to improve natural soil aeration. It’s commonly called “core aeration” in the lawn service industry, and you may have heard of it as soil cultivation (coring, spiking and slicing). Most homeowners simply call it aeration.
What are the Benefits of Aeration?
- Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.
- Enhanced soil water uptake.
- Improved fertilizer uptake and use.
- Reduced water runoff and puddling.
- Stronger turfgrass roots.
- Reduced soil compaction.
- Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
- Improved resiliency and cushioning.
- Enhanced thatch breakdown.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
Aerating equipment comes in three main types, from small manual versions to larger tractor-like or pull-behind machinery:
- Spike aerators simply poke a hole down into the soil with a solid, spike-like tine. Some homeowners wear spiked aerator “sandals” strapped to their shoes to aerate as they do yard work. While these can help on a small scale, spike machines can make compaction worse by pressing soil together around the holes.
- Slicing aerators have rotating blades that cut or slice through grass and thatch and down into soil. Like spike aerators, slicing aerators leave soil in the ground, but they create pathways for air, water and nutrients without causing more compaction.
- Core or plug aerators, typically preferred by lawn professionals, use rows of hollow tines that remove plugs of soil from your lawn and deposit them on top, where they break down. The size of the plugs and the holes they create vary in width and depth, depending on the machine used.
You can hire a lawn service to aerate for you or do it yourself like a pro. Equipment rental companies and lawn and garden stores often rent aerator machines and provide basic operating instructions for the model you choose. Aerating is a lot like mowing as you work back and forth across your lawn. Concentrate on any known problem areas, like pet runs or backyard baseball diamonds. Make several passes in different directions to help ensure optimal coverage and benefits.
If you don’t know which lawn service to hire, Lawn Care Chicago can definitely help you with that!
What Can you Expect?
Immediately after aeration, your lawn will be dotted with small plugs pulled from the soil. Within a week or two, they break apart and disappear into the lawn.
About 7 to 10 days after aeration, the aerification holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots – a sign that the turfgrass is receiving additional oxygen, moisture and nutrients from the soil.
On compacted soils and on lawns with slopes, you should see an immediate difference in water puddling and runoff after irrigation or rainfall. After aeration, your lawn should be able to go longer between waterings, without showing signs of wilt. With repeat aerations over time, your lawn will show enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
Remember, most lawns benefit from annual aeration. And while you shouldn’t expect miracles, especially with poor soil, lawns that receive this care will be healthier, more vigorous, easier to maintain and have fewer pest problems.
If you need any help or assistance with this, Landscaping Chicago has the best professionals for this matter.