Why You Need To Aerate Your Lawn
What is Core Aeration?
Core aeration is the practice of running an aeration machine over your turf that pulls out 2-3” core plugs. Aeration is very important for the overall health of your turf and is typically done in early Spring or Fall. Our native soil is heavy clay which holds a lot of water and also dries out and becomes as hard as a rock. This is not a good growing environment for turf. This is where core aeration helps.
Benefits of Core Aeration
Reduces soil compaction. Pulling plugs from your lawn softens the soil. This gives your existing turf the ability to grow a deeper root system and grow in thicker. A thicker turf reduces weed pressure and helps with improved tolerance of heat.
Increased uptake of water, oxygen and nutrients into soil. When you pull plugs from the soil, the ability for fertilize to have a bigger impact increases and reduces run off. If you spread grass seed, the holes allow a place for the seed to germinate.
Break up of thatch. Over time, your lawn will build up a layer of thatch, especially if there are a lot of weeds or if the grass isn't cut on a regular basis. When the layer of thatch is thick enough, the ability of water, oxygen, and nutrients is substantially reduced. Running an aerator over your lawn breaks up the buildup of thatch and allows your turf to breathe.
Signs your Lawn Needs Aeration
Excessive patches of Clover, thin grass and bare spots, and water puddling on the lawn after a rain are all signs that you need to aerate your lawn. Not necessarily a sign but if your lawn has heavy foot traffic (i.e. children playing, dogs, parties, etc.), you definitely need to aerate your turf. Heavy foot traffic over time is will compact the soil quickly.
In closing, if aeration is something you do yourself, use a core plug aerator and never use the spike aerator. Spike aerators cause more compaction because they drive soil into the ground instead of pulling a core plug. Also, do not aerate during late Spring or Summer when weeds are actively growing. Agitating the soil during this time will awaken thousands of weed seeds.