aerating and thatch

Lawn Aeration and Thatching

Soil compaction is a perennial problem that is responsible for many lawn care challenges. Diseases, weeds, fertilizer issues and droughts are often blamed when lawns lose their color, but the real problem could be soil compaction. Core aeration is an excellent way to re-invigorate your lawn. This process uses a large machine that extracts long plugs of soil and turf. Completing this simple process every three years can correct bald spots, banish moss and make your lawn more resistant to adverse conditions. Aeration also helps remove the layer of thatch that accumulates just above the soil line. Here's why lawn aeration is so important.

Traffic compacts soil and squeezes out the oxygen that roots require. Compaction also makes it difficult for water and fertilizer to penetrate the soil and nourish the roots. Bald spots, sparse growth, mossy patches, runoff and poor drought tolerance are all signs of soil compaction.

How to Tell When a Lawn Needs Aeration

Homeowners can determine if compaction is a problem by inserting a screwdriver 6 inches into the ground. If the screwdriver glides through the soil, you don't need to aerate. If you have difficulty completing this test, it's time to aerate. Healthy lawns have roots that extend 6 inches into the ground. In compressed soil, the roots may only go one or two inches deep, which makes the turf much more susceptible to drought and stress.

Things to Know About Aeration

As a general rule, grasses used in warm climates should be aerated in late spring or early summer. Bluegrass and fescue lawns grown in cooler climates can be aerated in late summer or early fall as long as the grass has time to recover. It's best to aerate your lawn in mild weather and when it is actively growing.

Lawns can be fertilized or over-seeded immediately after aeration. Manual aerators or pitchforks are handy, cost-effective alternatives for aerating small areas and walkways. However, most homeowners hire a lawn care professional or rent a core aerator from a local equipment supplier. Always mark underground hazards, such as telecom lines, pipes and invisible fences, before using machinery.

Aeration is an overlooked component that is crucial to the success of any lawn care plan. Aerating your lawn is the best way to cultivate healthy roots and aerobic soil that readily absorbs water and nutrients. Before you blame pests, diseases or the weather for lawn problems, perform a simple compaction test. For personalized advice on creating a lawn care plan, contact lawn experts today.

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