Aeration is the mechanical removal of cores or plugs from the soil in a turf grass lawn. The plugs are removed with a machine called an aerator. The aerator rolls over the grass with hollow tines. The tines are pressed into the soil with weight or driven by a cam shaft. Soil pushes through the hollow tines, creating a plug. These plugs are typically 2-3.5 inches long depending on soil type, moisture, compaction, and the amount of thatch buildup in a lawn. These plugs contain soil, roots, thatch and of course grass.
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An aeration can be performed on your lawn anytime from March 1st through early November. Aerating in the heat of the summer is not recommended, but if you do, you will have to make sure that you don’t let your grass dry out, maybe even water it a little extra for a couple of weeks. The more you can aerate the better. Most lawns will do very well aerating once in the spring and once in the fall.
The important thing to remember when deciding when to aerate your lawn, is making sure you can get some water on the lawn before it gets aerated and after. Watering before the aeration will result in deeper plugs, making the aeration more beneficial to your lawn. Watering after is important because it gets the fertilizer started that is usually applied during the aeration, it also helps break down the plugs that are left on the lawn, and if you have aerated during a time of the season when it is hot, the water will cool the exposed root system in the holes. So make sure you are ready to water, put down fertilizer, soil amendments, seed etc., before you aerate, since doing any of these things with an aeration will get everything where the grass needs it….in the roots.
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Benefits of Aeration:
- Pulling plugs from your lawn allows air, nutrients, water, and soil amendments to penetrate deeper into your soil and the root system of your turf.
- Aerating your lawn relieves compaction of your soil. Compaction of soil is caused by pets, kids playing in the yard, snow, mowing, sports, etc. Any traffic, weight or even water will cause compaction. Our Denver Metro area has a lot of clay soil. Clay soil becomes very hard when compacted because of its small particle size. When the soil is compacted it does not absorb water, air or fertilizer very well, most of it runs off. This is why it is important to aerate, and use soil amendments like compost, peet moss, organics, and our EZ Wet - Wetting Agent. EZ-Wet will assist water, nutrients from fertilizer, and even fungicides deeper into your soil.
- Your lawn aeration will break through and reduce the layer of thatch that can build up in your yard. Note: Power raking is not recommended on most types of lawns in the Front Range area to help with thatch reduction. A regular aeration schedule and proper cultural practices such as watering and mowing correctly are the best defense against thatch.
- When you aerate your lawn it assists fertilizer penetration deeper into the root zone where your grass needs it.
- Aeration creates pores that will hold a lot more water allowing less runoff, again getting your water where the grass needs it most – to the roots.
- Aerating improves your lawns soil profile by distributing soil and organic matter over the top of your grass and then breaking it down through watering and mowing.
- Core aeration encourages root penetration, resulting in a thicker, greener and more drought resistant lawn. Lawns with deep root zones can fight off drought and disease much easier than lawns with shallow root zones or with surface roots (Thatch) which are a result of over watering. Note that an aeration will only help encourage root penetration if the lawn is watered, fertilized, and mowed properly. All of these lawn care practices work together.
- “Yes” – Leave the plugs on the lawn if you can put up with them for about a week or two. The plugs act as a top dressing that will encourage micro-organism activity that breaks down the layer of thatch and improve soil quality and profile. Otherwise you can rake the plugs up and use them to fill in low spots in your grass, or use the soil in other landscape projects. The other option is to mow them up, but don’t forget to have the blades on your mower sharpened when you’re done.
Questions? E-mail us – Les@ColoradoHappyRoots.com