ProLawnPlus provides lawn aeration and lawn care services for Maryland residents in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, in addition to portions of Harford and Carroll Counties.
Core lawn aeration can help give you a healthy lawn as well as reduce its maintenance requirements. A few benefits of aerating your lawn include:
• Reduced soil compaction.
• Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.
• Stronger turfgrass roots.
• Enhanced water uptake in soil.
• Improved fertilizer uptake and use.
• Reduced water runoff and puddling.
• Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
• Improved resiliency and cushioning.
• Enhanced thatch breakdown.
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Why Lawn Aeration is Necessary
In most home lawns, fertile topsoil may have been removed or buried during excavation of the basement or footings, forcing grass to grow in subsoil that is more compact, higher in clay content, and less likely to sustain a healthy lawn.
Walking, playing, and mowing will cause soil compaction, thus reducing its air exchange and stressing the lawn. Raindrops and irrigation further increases soil compaction and as a result, reduces the large air spaces where roots readily grow. Soil compaction is greater on heavy clay-like dirt than on sandy dirt, and it is greatest in the upper 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil.
Aeration can help relieve soil compaction and increase the air circulation needed to help your grass to grow deeper roots and make more efficient use of water and fertilizer, as indicated in the illustration to the left.
The Effects of Lawn Aeration Equipment
The type of lawn aerating equipment you use may determine how effective the treatment will be. Generally, turfgrass responds best to core aeration treatment when the core holes are close and deep. Equipment with hollow tines removes soil cores. Equipment with open tines divots the soil surface. Lawn aeration equipment also varies in tine size up to 3/4 inch diameter and in depth of penetration up to 4 inches, depending on the manufacturer’s specifications.
Relieve Thatch Accumulation
Most home lawns are subject to thatch accumulation. The thatch is the layer of dead and decaying plant tissue located between the soil surface and the green vegetation. A thin thatch layer is ideal because it reduces soil compaction and increases wear tolerance. However, a layer of thatch of 1/2 inch or more impedes water, fertilizer, and pesticide effectiveness. Core aeration combines soil with the thatch debris, so soil organisms are better able to break down the thatch and reduce its accumulation.
Frequency of Lawn Aeration
A majority of lawns greatly benefit from annual aeration. Heavily used lawns, or those growing on heavy clay or subsoils may need more than one aeration each year. Again, turfgrass responds best when soil tine spacing is closer and penetration is deeper.
Best Time of Year for Aeration
If you have cool season turfgrass such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rygrass, both spring and fall are ideal times to aerate. In spring, aerate between March and May. Perform fall aeration between August and November. Aeration before or at the time of late season fertilization enhances root growth and improves spring greenup and growth.
Warm season turfgrass such as zoysiagrass and bermudagrass should be aerated in mid-spring to summer. Avoid aerating when warm season grasses are dormant- it may encourage weed competition. In addition, avoid aerating warm season grasses during spring greenup, and not until after their first spring mowing.
Herbicides, Fertilizers, and Aeration
It’s best to aerate before you apply pre-emergence herbicides, rather than after. Aerating after a herbicide application can reduce the chemical barrier formed by the herbicide, allowing weeds to germinate. Applying the fertilizer after aeration helps the lawn compete against weeds. Water the lawn after aeration, particularly in areas where drought and high temperatures are common.
What to Expect After Aerating Your Lawn
Immediately after aeration, your lawn will be dotted with small plugs pulled from the soil. Within a week or two, they break apart and disappear into the lawn.
About 7 to 10 days after aeration, the aerification holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots — a sign that the turfgrass is receiving additional oxygen, moisture, and nutrients from the soil.
On compacted soils and on lawns with slopes, you should see an immediate difference in water puddling and runoff after irrigation or rainfall. After aeration, your lawn should be able to go longer between waterings without showing signs of wilt. With repeat lawn aerations over time, your lawn will show enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance. Remember, most lawns benefit from annual aeration. And while you shouldn’t expect miracles, especially with poor soil, lawns that receive this care will be healthier, more vigorous, easier to maintain, and have fewer pest problems.
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