Aerating the Lawn in Preparation for Spring

Early March is a great time to think about scheduling your lawn aerating service for spring.  Over the previous summer, the lawn will have been subjected to a lot of traffic, causing compaction.  Soil compaction leads to a variety of other problems, if not alleviated, so it is best to alleviate compaction as early as possible in the year.  Aerating will also take care of any thatch buildup problem your lawn might be suffering from.  A little bit of thatch is fine.  Too much thatch can lead to many of the same problems that soil compaction causes.

Why Spring for Aerating the Lawn?

Lawn aerating is helpful for the health of the grass, but it is also stressful because it disrupts the roots and the regular growing habit of the grass plant. Aerating in the spring, when the lawn is actively growing, gives the lawn a chance to recover more quickly than aerating during the summer or late fall when the lawn is not growing as quickly.  If you didn't get a chance to aerate the lawn in the fall, the spring is, obviously, the next best choice! The spaces opened up by aeration will allow you to keep your lawn healthy all summer long.  Air, water and fertilizer will penetrate the soil more easily after aeration, ensuring an overall healthier lawn.

Prevent these Problems with Spring Aeration

Aerating can help correct certain problems in the lawn, and avoid others.  Take care of this garden task in the spring to avoid these problems:
  • Fungal diseases. Aeration won't completely eliminate these problems, but better air and water movement in the soil will reduce them.
  • Thatch buildup. An inch or so of thatch is ok.  More than that, and you provide a home for fungal, bacterial and insect pests.
  • Weeds. Weeds sprout when lawn grass is unhealthy and unable to out-grow or out-compete the weeds.  Overall improvement in health of the grass will keep weed problems to a minimum.

Steps for Successful Lawn Aerating

  1. First, mow your lawn to about ½ of the normal mowing height.  For example, if you usually mow your lawn to a height of three inches, set the deck at 1 ½ inches.
  2. Give the lawn at least one inch of water a couple of days in a row, a couple of days before you aerate.
  3. Aerate using a punch-core aerator.  These actually remove little cores of soil.
  4. After aeration, water to break up the cores of soil.
  5. Top dress with a light layer of compost or lightweight topsoil.
  6. Keep the lawn watered well-at least one inch a week-until it starts to fill in. Aerating is both helpful and stressful for the lawn, so good care after aeration is important.
You can hire a professional to complete your lawn aerating for you, or do it yourself.  It should be a priority at least once a year.
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