Lawn Aeration – What is It?
Lawn aeration, also known as core aeration is the process of mechanically removing small vertical soil “plugs” approximately 2”-4” in depth from the surface of your lawn. The diameter of these circular core plugs are usually around ½”. The plug itself contains a small cross section of grass, grass roots and thatch; but mostly soil.
Why aerate your lawn?
The main reason that we aerate our lawns is to reduce soil compaction. Over time, activities such as playing sports, lawn mowing, pet activity or simply just walking on your lawn creates soil compaction. Soil compacting forces are most severe in poorly drained or wet sites. Compaction greatly reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Soil compaction simply inhibits the roots ability to do these necessary, life sustaining functions. Aeration reduces soil compaction allowing for a healthy growing environment for your plants roots.
When is the best time to core aerate my lawn?
For Midwest, and northern lawns, the fall season is better time for lawn aeration.
- Minimal weed seed present to germinate into opened soils
- Soil plugs have all winter do disintegrate into the top layer of your turf
- Cool season grasses spread out and increase their root growth in the fall
- Your lawn will be ready for natural rainfall and nutrients in the spring
Core aeration can benefit your lawn by:
- Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose and break down any present thatch layer
- Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the root zone and soil levels
- Improving root development and overall plant health
- Enhancing the soil profile to allow for rainfall or irrigation to penetrate
- Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas
How can I get my lawn aerated?
Many local equipment rental services provide machine driven mechanical aerators. You may need access to a friend’s truck or utilize a small trailer to transport the machine. Also, not aerators are created equal. Some devices simply “spike” the soil and do not physically pull up core plugs creating the much needed air spaces. In fact, some spiking type machines can actually cause more compaction.
Most full service landscape companies and lawn services offer core aeration services if you find the prospect of doing it yourself too daunting.