Complete Lawn Aeration Equipment Guide
Whether you live in the scorching heat or the freezing cold, your lawn can become spotty and brown without the proper maintenance it requires. One method to help your grass grow stronger and healthier is aeration. Like any other plant, grass roots need oxygen. Over time, thanks to foot traffic, rain and snow, and gravity, the soil around the roots of grass can become compacted, limiting the amount of air reaching the roots. The result? A less than healthy-looking lawn, to say the least.
Why Should You Aerate?
Core aeration is the process of removing a small plug of soil from the turf — allowing better airflow around the roots of the plants. Lawn aeration also allows water and fertilizer to reach the roots of the grass more effectively, helping your lawn become stronger and healthier. Not only will your grass be thicker and healthier, but you will use less water and reduce puddling on the lawn. Grass with healthy roots is also more tolerant to stress from heat and drought, meaning you’ll have to do less “repair” work on your lawn as the season progresses.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
Knowing when to aerate your lawn can make a difference in its effectiveness. The best time to aerate your lawn depends largely on the type of grass you have. If you have a cool weather variety of grass, such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, or perennial ryegrass, aeration can be done between March and May or in the fall. By waiting until the fall, you can add a late-season fertilizer, which will help your lawn green faster in the spring and ensure stronger root growth.
For warmer season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, aeration is best done between April and July. Don’t aerate these types of grasses while they are dormant, as weeds could take hold. You also shouldn’t aerate warm-season grasses until after the grass has turned green in the spring, and you have mowed the lawn at least once.
In most cases, you only need to aerate once per year. However, if you have heavy, clay-based soil, or a lot of traffic on your lawn, you may need to aerate in the spring and the fall to keep your lawn healthy. Also, if you have seeded or sodded your lawn within the last year, do not aerate; wait at least two years to ensure the roots have taken hold.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
To determine whether your lawn needs to be aerated, dig up a small section of your grass, and examine the roots. If there are less than two inches of root growth, your lawn could benefit from being aerated. If you know that you have clay-based soil, aeration is a necessity for a healthy lawn. Follow these steps to properly aerate your lawn.
Step 1. Preparing for Aeration
Aerating your lawn begins by preparing the area. Ideally, you should water the lawn at least a day or two before aeration; you should add at least one inch of water to the soil to make it easier for the aerator to penetrate the soil and pull out the cores. Do not try to aerate a muddy or especially wet area though, as that will just clog the machine.
Step 2. Aerating Your Lawn
Using a core aerator, move across the lawn in the same pattern that you would to mow the grass, taking care to cover the entire lawn. It is important not to remove the soil cores from the top of the grass. These will dissolve back into the ground after the first heavy rain and deposit beneficial microbes into the upper layer of soil, helping to breakdown organic matter and reducing excessive thatch.
Step 3. Completing the Aeration
Once you’ve completed the aeration, you can apply compost, peat moss or sand across the lawn to refill the holes, although this is not absolutely necessary. This is a great time to fertilize and overseed the lawn.
If your lawn is splotchy and a little moody, TruGreen’s aeration services can help. Click here to learn how TruGreen’s professional service may be the best option for your lawn.
Tools For Lawn Aeration
The most common tool for aeration is a core aerator, a machine with hollow tines that penetrate the soil and pull out “plugs” of soil. Depending on the machine, the tines can be up to about three-quarters of an inch wide and four inches deep. Some homeowners have used spikes — either via a device or spiked shoes — to poke holes in the lawn, but this method is not as effective as it can compact the soil deeper. Professionals often have the proper tools and training to provide long term health along with aeration services.
DIY or Hire Professionals to Aerate Your Lawn?
As with most lawn care tasks, it is possible to aerate your lawn yourself. However, before you set aside a weekend afternoon for the chore, consider the benefits of hiring a lawn care professional. When you consider the pros and cons of DIY aeration vs. those of hiring lawn care professionals, you might find that it’s worth investing in some expert help.
DIY Aeration Pros & Cons
The biggest benefit of aerating your lawn yourself is the cost. If you have the tools and materials you need, you can save money with a DIY approach. Other potential benefits include:
• A sense of pride and accomplishment in taking care of your own yard.
• A chance to spend time outdoors getting some fresh air and exercise.
• The ability to control how often your grass is maintained.
• Insight into other problems in your yard that might otherwise go unnoticed, such as damaged fencing or trees that need to be trimmed.
However, there are some cons to DIY lawn aeration. Among them are:
• The investment in materials. You will need to rent or purchase an aerator and other supplies, which could cost as much or more than hiring a professional.
• Costly mistakes. It may seem like a simple task, but you have to know how to aerate your lawn. If you do it incorrectly, you could do more harm than good to your lawn.
• Unnecessary aeration. The problems with your lawn may not actually be caused by soil that is too compacted. Without a professional consultation to correctly diagnose issues, you could waste time and money on an unnecessary task.
• Spending your weekend on lawn care instead of relaxing or spending time with your family.
Reasons to Hire a Professional
Investing in professional lawn aeration presents a number of advantages, beyond freeing up your time for other activities.
• Professional lawn care companies have the right equipment, allowing the job to be done quickly and correctly. There’s no need to buy or rent an aerator.
• Professionals have a better understanding of your lawn’s needs and will know the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn. Not only will they time the aeration correctly, but they will also apply the right balance of fertilizer and seed post-aeration to ensure the best grass possible.
• More peace of mind. Many lawn care companies will offer a guarantee of results and will keep working on your yard until you are satisfied. If you DIY, you may spend hundreds of dollars on supplies, only to be disappointed or frustrated by the results.
• Professionals will properly prep the lawn for aeration to ensure the best results.
As always, there are some pros and cons to hiring a professional. However, by the time you acquire the right equipment, you may spend about the same amount of cash either way.
If you don’t have time to invest in aerating your lawn, contact TruGreen so you can have an envy-worthy lawn to make the neighbors turn their heads.