After the heat and stress of the summer, our lawns may start to look like they need some TLC. While cooler winter temperatures provide a welcome reprieve, you can also begin planning how you’ll aerate your lawn come spring. Most people understand that plants, including grass, need water and nutrients to thrive. However, plant roots also need sufficient oxygen to function properly. Soil has natural air pockets, but as it compacts over time, the pockets of air collapse and it can cause roots to suffocate. Aerating your lawn is the process of breaking up the soil and poking holes into the top layer so that air can better enter the ground and reach the grass roots.
Why Does My Lawn Need Aerating?
Any activity on your lawn can cause compaction–having an outdoor party, pushing a lawn mower, or even just children playing compresses the soil. It’s a good idea to plan to aerate your lawn once every few years. Aeration improves the nutrient and oxygen content in the soil by creating space for these components to occupy. Regular aeration also helps keep your lawn healthy by reducing thatch. Thatch is the build-up of dead grass and other material on top of the soil. This layer can get so thick that it prevents water and nutrients from reaching the roots of the grass, thus weakening or even killing your turf. It tends to keep conditions stagnant and humid, which spreads disease and fungus quickly.
Before aerating your lawn, make sure the ground is moist. This makes it easier for the tools to penetrate the soil and create the desired disturbance that will break up compaction. There are a few different ways to aerate your lawn. Spike aerators are the simplest–they poke directly down into the ground. There are some machines that can do this, or there are even sandals you can wear that have spikes on the bottom–knock out two birds with one stone by aerating the lawn while doing other chores around the yard. Alternatively, a slicing aerator cuts through the first couple inches of ground to break up thatch and eliminate topsoil compaction. Finally, plug aerators actually remove small cores from the lawn to create holes into which air can enter the soil. These machines work best for optimal aeration because they actually remove soil from the lawn, meaning it takes longer for it to re-compact.
After aerating your lawn, it is an excellent time to overseed. Summer can take a toll on the thickness and overall health of your lawn, so be ready to take advantage of the opportunity to revitalize your lawn and repair patchy areas the winter may cause. Bahia grass and Bermuda grass are excellent turf species that grow well from seed. Regardless of which aeration method you decide to use, it effectively loosens the soil and creates depressions that will hold the grass seeds in place; if you attempt to spread seed over compacted soil, the majority of it will run off with a heavy rain. Aeration before overseeding also makes it easier for the roots of sprouting seed to dig down and stabilize the grass–and the deeper and thicker the roots can grow, the more healthy and resilient your lawn will remain.
Big Earth Landscape Supply is your local resource for sod and turf that will make your lawn and garden more beautiful than ever. From Sarasota to Tampa,