Stabbing your lawn to death – it’s the closest you can come to describing lawn aeration. Well literally that is what you have to do if you want to keep your lawn healthy. I have seen folks walk all over their lawn using spikes strapped to the soles of their shoes, others driving spears into the ground and more sophisticated folks using a spike wheeled machine. It is ironical though because one would believe that they were killing of their lawn but the truth is everyone has to do this at some point of time if they really love their lawn.
Aeration helps maintain a normal growing lawn. It is just that the tools used for this purpose range from the uniquely insane to well thought out engineering marvels. In the hands of an interrogator they might look like torture devices good enough to violate the UN anti-torture bill but in the hands of a homesteader, they are perfectly legal devices that are actually helping the yard grow lush and green.
Why Lawn Aeration?
Soil over time tends to pack tighter and close up pores naturally found in them. In the wild, constant rain, drought and animals help in keeping soil porous but in your yard, where you don’t let your dog poop or your children run around for fear of destroying it, there are no natural forces helping you aerate the lawn. Moreover, mowing tends to make the situation worse and with wet conditions, the soil eventually compacts over itself leaving little air within. Plants depend on oxygen dissolved inside the soil taking it up through their roots. Lack of pores equals low oxygen content, which in turn affects the health of your lawn.
Lawn aeration alleviates such a situation by creating fresh holes in the ground that allow air to seep deep into the soil creating space around the holes where compacted soil can disintegrate into looser arrangements. Consider marinating a tough cut of meat. We pick at it leaving holes so that the marinate seeps deep into the tissue.
A well aerated soil gives more freedom for roots to grow and expand plus it encourages microbial activities. As it rains, the soil soaks in water faster and the chances of a runoff damaging the top soil is reduced. However, aerating your soil need not be a daily task. In fact, you only need to occasionally do this.
Things To Consider For Aeration
- Traffic – If you use your yard for football, soccer or to relax and have a family time then it is going to compact really quick. Best to aerate such lawns once every six months.
- Grass Types – A lawn usually consists of two or more varieties of grass and every variant has a different growth pattern. Aeration is best down at high growth periods that give it time to recover and exploit newly freed soil space. Bermuda grass is best aerated in spring while colder variants are best done during early fall or late summer.
- Local Climate – You don’t want to aerate your lawn when it is too cold or too hot. The best time to aerate your lawn is when the temperature is just right as it lets water seep in and promotes decent grass growth.
Newly sodden lawns are good for the first year. They need not be aerated but from the second year onwards you have to regularly aerate the yard based on the above three factors. Clay soil is best served with biannual aeration and sandy soil, once a year. For gardens you can aerate it once a year.
Natural Aeration Happens Every Day
You may think the reason to aerate the lawn is because it isn’t naturally capable of doing so. Truth is that soil has its own mechanism to aerate over time. This is the reason why grass always survived even when we folks never aerated the soil. Earthworms are natural aerators of the soil. They funnel deep into the soil living out their entire life like many other creatures within the soil. Water too, as it freezes expands and creates furrows in the soil. As ice melts away and contracts, it leaves crevices that allow air to seep in.
What about Artificial Aeration? Read on and find out how you can aerate your soil.
Lawn Aeration Methods And Tools
You can spend a few hundred dollars or thousands of dollars looking after your yard. Aeration tools can be sophisticated or simple but the process of aeration basically boils down to two methods to make holes. One is to use solid spikes and poke around the lawn and the other is to use core aerators. These are lawn plugs that you spaciously disperse around the lawn using hollow tubes to cut cylindrical sections of soil and dump the sections on the lawn. Out of these two methods, core aeration has a better work rate with high traffic lawns. Spike aerated soil tends to compact quicker.
Coming to the tools for aeration, there are plenty. You could wear spikes on your shoes or use spiked wheels with gas power to quickly aerate your lawn. Alternatively for large yards, you can strap spikes onto your tractor wheel and drive around or start poking on a small yard. For massive yards there are expensive devices available on rent. And finally you could always hire professional help to get the job done.
After you have decided on the perfect tool for the job, it is time to prepare for aeration. The first step in preparations is to wait for the optimal time. This is when grass grows at the highest rate. Remember never to aerate the soil in a heat wave or during a drought. This will only cause the inherent moisture in the soil to dry up. Also before aerating moisten the soil up. Do this a few days before you actually aerate to let water seep deep into the soil.
Landscaping professionals prefer making dual pass on a tuft of land to aerate it properly. This helps in ensuring that the entire yard is well perforated. And once you have finally aerated the soil, it is time to irrigate it, apply fertilizers, drop in seeds if necessary and continue caring for the lawn as you normally do. A word of caution, do not let pets, children or yourself wander onto the lawn for 24 hours after aeration. And, aeration is a time when weed finds its way into the soil so be careful to remove all weed in your lawn before aerating it.