Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn. The main reason for aerating is to alleviate soil compaction.
Core aeration can help make your lawn healthier and reduce its maintenance requirements through these means:
- Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.
- Enhanced soil water uptake.
- Improved fertilizer uptake and use.
- Reduced water runoff and puddling.
- Stronger turf grass roots.
- Reduced soil compaction.
- Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
- Improved resiliency and cushioning.
- Enhanced thatch breakdown.
Whens the best time to aerate my lawn?
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 green-up and growth.
What to expect?
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 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.
Thatch is a communion of dead grass, roots and other matter that builds up in grass over time. It’s very common and collects on most lawns at some time or another. Thatch collects above the soil at surface level and becomes intertwined in grass stems. When the cycle of decomposition is delayed for any variety of reasons, dead matter will begin to build up. As the build up increases the matter becomes stacked and then packs down or mattes, causing healthy grass blades to become stressed and weaken.
Left untreated, thatch can literally choke a lawn to death. As thatch thickens it robs the soil of air and hinders water absorption and nutrient penetration to the soil and root system. Not only will excessive thatch kill the grass, left undeterred long enough it will damage the soil so that even if removed, new growth in that area will be sparse at best without soil treatment. Thick thatch levels can also become a haven for insects. Moisture rich matted thatch can be an excellent breeding ground for mosquitos and disease. Knowing the level of thatch you have will assist you in the best way to combat the problem properly.
Dethatching can be performed any time during the year outside of drought or frost. Don’t wait for the fall to perform a dethatching treatment at a moderate or excessive level of thatch unless you are in a prolonged season of drought.
What to expect?
Most people are shocked to see how much thatch even a healthy lawn can collect in a single growing season. Lifting the thatch to the surface is just the first step. After the lawn is dethatched, the thatch must be removed from the top of the grass or it will mat back down to the soil surface. You can use a hand rake or blower to pile the thatch for bagging or you can use a lawn/leaf vacuum for quick clearing.
Annual maintenance dethatching (thinning thatch a ¼ inch in depth or less performed with a spring tine blade dethatcher) should leave no noticeable damage to the lawn. Actually it is likely that you will find that your grass has greened up a little over the next week or so due to increased exposure to air and water.
Moderate thatch dethatching may expose thinning areas and bald spots caused by soil compaction. An overseeding treatment followed by fertilizer will spruce these areas up in 2-3 weeks if performed in season. If performed late in the fall, you should notice a much thicker lawn will grow in the spring.
Excessive thatch treatment is more intrusive to the lawn and the soil. After a dethatching and aeration treatment, you may notice bald spots and core holes in the soil. These holes are needed to help the soil and existing grass root system strengthen and recover.
Thatch creates a water barrier, prevents new grass from growing and harbors insects. It collects quickly and before long the lawn and its entire root system is at risk. Lawn dethatching, when performed as needed, will go a long way in maintaining a healthy, green lawn.
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