Aerating a lawn is the process of removing small plugs, usually one inch deep and two inches wide, from the soil. This process opens up compacted areas in the grass where water, air, and nutrients can flow more freely to the roots. While it is generally accepted that aeration should occur every year when you aerate your lawn depends on your geographic location (such as climate), type of grass, and use, such as whether or not pets run around on it.
Aerating during fall or spring allows for better compaction removal than aerating in summer since there is no heat stress on newly sodded seedlings and less chance of desiccation in winter due to freezing weather. Areas with high foot traffic benefit most from fall aeration since the damage is repaired over winter. Areas with low traffic do not get compacted as much and can be aerated at any time, but spring is still a good choice for high traffic areas in northern climates where the soil is slow to thaw.
Aerating during fall or spring also removes annual summer weeds before they have a chance to set seed in your lawn. Aerating in summer, when core aerators are available, only furthers the problem by leaving more weed seeds behind from soil that was brought up from deep within your lawn along with the cores.
In addition to removing compaction and opening up pathways for air, water and nutrients, aerating helps relieve soil compaction due to pets. Pets love running around and rolling on your lawn, and over time this compaction can become a problem.
Compacted soil does not absorb pet urine as well, which results in the grass having to try harder to grow above the saturated soil. After aeration, an enzyme such as Nature’s Mower is distributed into the newly opened pathways. It starts working immediately to make seeds germinate faster and break down organic matting caused by dog urine.
This process is called hydrolysis and makes for healthy pets and happy owners! Aerating does more than just relieve soil compaction!
Aerating also makes it easier for plant roots to grow into the new pathways, where they then have access to more air, water, and nutrients. In addition, fertilizers are better absorbed by plants after aeration because the grass is no longer competing for those key elements. Aerating also helps relieve soil compaction due to foot traffic during the heat of summer. Though the lawn may look thick and healthy, underneath, there is a layer of compacted soil that the hot sun can bake like concrete.
Soon after aeration, this traffic-compacted layer becomes looser and actually provides a better footing for walking on your lawn than before you aerated it.
Aerating with the appropriate equipment effectively reduces soil compaction, but it will not completely eliminate problems caused by heavy foot or pet traffic and/or poor drainage. For these situations, we recommend using Nature’s Mower, which contains beneficial microorganisms that radically reduce compaction while breaking down organic matting in the process (hydrolysis).
Aerating is important in helping your lawn become more healthy. It relieves soil compaction, making it easier for grass roots to grow deep into the soil and access nutrients, water, and air. It also helps get rid of weed seeds by bringing up deeper soil where they’re hiding out. Finally, aeration improves fertilizer absorption, so you’ll see fewer brown spots on your lawn after applying fertilizer.
There are many ways to aerate your lawn, but using professional core aerators will provide the best results and be done safely and effectively. However, if you choose not to use core aerators, there are other methods such as spikes, needles, and rakes.
Aerating removes soil compaction, making grass roots grow deeper into the soil, where they then have access to more air, water, and nutrients. If you don’t aerate your lawn, it will be harder for plant roots to get a good foothold since there is no loose dirt or open pathways below.
In addition, aeration helps break up organic matting caused by pet urine over time, leading to healthier pets and happier owners! Aeration also gives new seedlings a chance at life because their young roots won’t have to compete with established grass.
The one thing you want to avoid when aerating your lawn is compacting it again. Once an area has been aerated, walk over it as little as possible until the plugs have time to disappear back into the ground (usually about four weeks). If you must walk on areas that have just been aerated, use a slow speed setting on your mower or wait until the next day to mow.
Aerating your lawn organically has many benefits: it reduces soil compaction, opens up pathways for air, water, and nutrients, relieves stress on plants growing in compacted soils (including animals using said lawns), reduces weeds due to removing weed-seeding soil, and helps pets with compaction problems. Now, when and how can you implement this process on your lawn?
The best time of year to aerate a lawn is in fall or early spring when temperatures are cool, and plants have not yet entered their active growing season. Smaller plugs (less than 1 inch) can be pulled if the ground is dry (no rain for 24 hours), but larger core aerators should be used if wet weather is expected since they will do far less damage to the turf. If using an aerator with smaller plugs, wait until after a heavy dew or light rainfall where water has filled small holes before walking on the lawn to reduce stress on seedlings and newly sodded lawns.
If using a core aerator, make sure to set it as deep as possible (12-18 inches) and overlap major areas by 1/3 of their width to ensure thorough coverage and avoid leaving bald patches. Walk on portions of the lawn that have been core aerated as little as possible for the first month or two after an application; this helps keep soil from filling in those newly opened pathways and encourages new grass growth until roots can stabilize and hold together compacted soils.
Finally, take steps such as watering deeply and infrequently, applying organic fertilizers once seedlings are established, and re-seeding bare spots until healthy grass is reinstated since your lawn will not be able to recover overnight.
Good luck with all of your lawn aeration endeavors!