Why Aerate Your Lawn?
Having a lawn that needs aerating is like an elevator chock-full of people with a blocked air vent. It’s a tight fit and oppressive. That’s how the grass on your lawn feels — constricted with no room to grow; starving for air, water, and nutrients. Aerating your soil gives your grass room to germinate and grow, as well as permits air and water to penetrate deep into the soil, giving your lawn a lush, green appearance.
The purpose for aerating your lawn is to loosen compacted soil. Aeration is achieved by poking a hole with a tine or by removing small plugs of soil with a hollow cylinder. Both methods will leave a tiny hole in the ground. The preferred method of aerating is the plug or core method. Using a spike or slit aerator will create a smaller hole and will require aerating your lawn more often.
Benefits of Core Aeration
Loosens compacted soil and increases the availability of water and nutrients.
Enhances oxygen levels in the soil, stimulating root growth and enhancing the activity of thatch-decomposing organisms.
While removing cores of soil, the spoons or tines also sever roots. Grass plants are stimulated to produce new shoots and roots that “fill up” the holes in the lawn and increase the density of the turf.
Reduces water runoff.
Increases the lawn’s drought tolerance and improves its overall health.
When is the best time of year to aerate your lawn?
The type of grass will determine whether to aerate your lawn in the fall or in the summer. Lawns planted with cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are best aerated in the fall, when there is less heat stress and danger of invasion by weedy annuals. Allow at least four weeks of good growing weather to help the plants recover.
Warm-season grasses such as zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, carpetgrass, St. Augustinegrass and bermudagrass, are best aerated in late spring and summer, when they are actively growing.
With either type of grass, choose a day when temperatures are mild and soil is moderately moist, which makes the soil easier to penetrate. Avoid aerating a wet soil, as it is messy and leads to further compaction of the soil as well. If the soil sticks to your shoes or if the core sample you take sticks to your probe, wait until it dries out some before attempting the task.
How to aerate your lawn yourself
Aerating larger lawns requires a power-driven core aerator or aerifier. You can rent aerators from Northside Tool Rental ranging from $46 to $285 for a few hours (depending on the model rented). Northside Tool Rental offers a variety of aerators:
Unless your Arnold Schwarzenegger or The Rock, you will need to enlist the help of a couple of friends and a truck when picking up the equipment as it can be heavy.
Penetration depth of the tines depends on soil type, soil moisture, tine diameter, and the weight and power of the aerator. Read the operator’s manual carefully prior to use.
How do you aerate your lawn?
Thanks to the equipment experts at Northside Tool Rental, aerating your lawn can easily be carried out by homeowners and DIY’ers. Here are 3 easy steps to follow to aerate your lawn.
Step 1: Prepare the Lawn for Aeration
Water the lawn thoroughly one to two days prior to aerating your lawn. Apply at least 1″ of water to the grass; this can be measured by placing an empty tuna can in the middle of the watering zone. If the can is full, then 1″ of water has been applied to the grass.
Watering the lawn will help the aerator penetrate the soil and pull out soil cores much more easily. It is recommended that you flag irrigation heads and other hidden objects in the lawn so that you will avoid them when operating the aerator over this area. If you do not have an irrigation system, use a garden hose and sprinkler to water the lawn.
Step 2: Aerate the Lawn
Whichever machine you use, go over the lawn twice, once in one direction, and then in a perpendicular direction for best results.
Step 3: Apply Compost or Sand Over the Aerated Lawn
The soil cores can be left on the ground after aeration and allowed to decompose. Or, throw the raked plugs into the compost bin. This step isn’t necessary as it should take about two to four weeks for the soil cores to break down naturally. Sprinkle compost, sand, or peat moss over the lawn to fill in the holes.
Aerating your lawn can be combined with seeding, particularly on bare areas. If you are going to seed the lawn, you should make six to 10 passes over the area with a machine. You need to produce a number of holes, at least 4 inches apart, to improve the appearance and density of the stand. Allow the holes about a month to heal before seeding. If you overseed immediately after coring, seeds that land in or near the aerated holes will germinate and grow much better than those between the holes, giving the lawn an uneven, dappled appearance. With a small amount of effort and expense of tilling up the entire area, combining aerating with seeding will give the lawn a brand-new look.
How often to aerate your lawn?
Different soil types require more frequent aeration. Clay soil compacts easily and should be aerated at least once a year. You can aerate a sandy lawn once a year, or you could tackle the chore in alternating years. In arid climates, aerating twice a year will enhance turf growth and health. If your lawn is frequently driven on or used for parking cars, aerate annually.
By renting an aerator from the equipment experts at Northside Tool Rental and spending a few hours on this DIY project; your thriving, green lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood.