Aeration is a very important service for the health of your lawn.
What Is Aeration?
Technically speaking, it is the naturally occurring process of air exchange between the soil and its surrounding atmosphere. Practically speaking, it 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?
Core aeration can help make your lawn healthier and reduce its maintenance requirements through these means:
- Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.
- Enhanced soil water uptake.
- Improved fertilizer uptake and use.
- Reduced water runoff and puddling.
- Stronger turf grass roots.
- Reduced soil compaction.
- Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
- Improved resiliency and cushioning.
- Enhanced thatch breakdown.
Why is Aeration Necessary?
Compact soil prevents grass from establishing a healthy root system and keeps water and fertilizer from reaching the roots. In most home lawns, fertile topsoil may have been removed or buried during excavation of the basement or footings, forcing grass to grow in subsoil that is more compact, higher in clay content and less likely to sustain a healthy lawn.
Walking, playing and mowing will compact soil and stress lawns. Raindrops and irrigation further compact the soil, reducing large air spaces where roots readily grow. Compaction is greater on heavy clay soils than on sandy soils, and it is greatest in the upper 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil. Aeration can help relieve soil compaction, allowing your grass to grow deeper roots and make better use of water and fertilizer.
Turf grass in compacted soil (left) grows slowly, lacks vigor and becomes thin or does not grow at all. Core aeration (center) removes small cores of soil, depositing them on the surface of the turf. This improves the depth and extent of turf grass rooting (right), and it can help save money on your water bill.
Relieve Thatch Accumulation
Most home lawns are subject to thatch accumulation. Left unmanaged, it impedes water, fertilizer and pesticide effectiveness. Core aeration combines soil with the thatch debris, so soil organisms are better able to break down the thatch and reduce its accumulation.
How Often Should Lawns Be Aerated?
Most home lawns benefit from annual aeration. Heavily used lawns, or those growing on heavy clay or subsoils may need aeration twice a year. Golf fairways, sports turf and municipalities may need aeration three to five times per year depending on the amount of use.
When is The Best Time to Aerate?
If you have cool season turf grass such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, both spring and fall are ideal times to aerate. In spring, aerate between March and May. Perform fall aeration between August and November. Aeration before or at the time of late season fertilization enhances root growth and improves spring green-up and growth.
Herbicides, Fertilizers & Aeration
It’s best to aerate before you apply pre-emergence herbicides, rather than after. Aerating after a herbicide application can reduce the chemical barrier formed by the herbicide, allowing weeds to germinate. Applying fertilizer after aeration helps the lawn compete against weeds. Water the lawn after aeration, particularly in areas where drought and high temperatures are common.
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 aeration holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots – a sign that the turf grass 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.
You will have your best results with seed after an aeration due to the holes left behind. The seed will end up nesting in these cool moist holes, which will nurture the seed to its first haircut.
It’s best to water in early morning, very early, like 5 a.m. This gives the lawn an opportunity to dry before nightfall, a time when many types of fungus are most active. This is also usually a non-peak time for most communities’ water supply. It’s also much better to water early only a couple of times a week than to water lightly more often. Deep soaking encourages deep root growth, whereas light watering encourages the roots to stay close to the surface of the soil, making your lawn more susceptible to heat and drought.
Another thing to keep in mind is that an actively growing lawn will require about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. This of course will depend on your soil type.
Brown spot repair
Pet owners can face the challenge of brown spots on their lawns.
What causes the brown spot? It’s just like over-fertilizing! There is a high nitrogen content in pet urine, which causes the urine to burn the grass. The number one thing pet owners can do to avoid brown spots is to water the area well within eight hours to dilute the high nitrogen level. When these spots go untreated Sunworks can help you with a mix of sand, seed, and a slow-release fertilizer.
Don’t hesitate to contact SunWorks at 420-490-1444 to get a complete free evaluation and estimate for your lawn today.