In this article, we discuss everything important there is to know about aeration, including the best time to aerate your lawn. However, let's start with the very basics first:
Maintaining a beautiful garden means devoting oneself to regular essential practices. While most gardeners are aware of routine practices, such as fertilizing, mowing, and watering, not many know about another essential lawn care practice called Aeration.
Aeration, also often known as core aeration, is the process of creating small openings in your garden's turf and soil structure to enable the movement of water, air, and nutrients to reach the grassroots. The process of aeration involves creating small plugs throughout the lawn.
More often than not, the process also involves the use of motorized machines and hand tools. In most cases, lawn keepers are required to perform aeration only once every year. If you are planning to perform this process in your yard, read on.
Why Is Aeration Important?
If you are someone who uses their lawn rather frequently, chances are your garden area gets a lot of foot traffic.
Heavy food traffic causes the soil to become compacted, thereby leaving no space for air, water, and minerals to reach the grass and plants' root system.
Similarly, gardens with a soil base rich in clay content or thatch also eventually becomes compacted and unsuitable for plant growth.
Aeration allows the soil to become loose enough to allow the passage of water, air, and essential nutrients and thus, promotes good health of plants.
Unfortunately, many lawn keepers do not like the sight of soil plugs throughout the soil cover. If that is the case with you, you can rake the soil plugs.
However, make sure to aerate your garden once every year to keep it healthy and green.
Does Your Lawn Need Aeration?
While aeration is an important lawn-care technique, not every garden requires to be aerated.
You must aerate your garden only if:
- You use your garden frequently, which has caused the soil to become compacted.
- Your lawn has excessive thatch. A more than half-an-inch layer of thatch within a four-inch soil piece indicates soil rich in thatch that requires proper aeration.
- If the topsoil in your garden was stripped or buried during construction and the soil placed above it became compacted due to construction foot traffic, you must aerate your lawn to maintain its good health.
What Is the Best Time to Aerate Your Lawn?
The answer to this question depends on three different factors:
- The type of grass your lawn has
- The total amount of moisture your lawn receives
- And the weather conditions in your area.
Of these three criteria, the most important is moisture. If the soil is not properly moist, performing aeration will be very difficult.
In terms of season, while aeration can be done at any time of the year, it is recommended that it must be done at a time when there is maximum root growth.
However, the fall season is considered to be the best season for aeration as during fall the grass is actively growing and there is minimal risk of weeds making their ways into aeration holes or plugs.
The best time to aerate lawns also depends on the type of grass in your yard. In the cases of warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Centipede, and St. Augustine, the ideal aeration time is during May and June.
On the other hand, cold-season grasses, such as fescues, bluegrass, and ryegrass, should be aerated between September and October.
A question that is often asked is: Can you perform aeration during spring?
In general, the spring season is always considered unfit for performing aeration because the holes or plugs created during the process create a perfect spot for weeds to grow. Weeds like the crabgrass, which is any way widely prevalent during the spring season, can become even more prominent after aeration.
However, sometimes you may find that your grass has become completely compacted and that aeration has become a necessity. If that happens, know that spring aeration can be performed while being cautious.
Just remember a few important things: late spring aeration is always safer than early spring aeration because weeds go to seed after late spring. More importantly, if you are doing spring aeration, make sure to practice slice seeding.
Here's What You Should Remember While Performing Aeration?
If you are convinced that your garden needs to be aerated and are planning to undertake the job soon, here are the steps to be followed and some simple tips to be kept in mind while aerating a garden.
- If you want the entire aeration process to go smoothly, make sure the soil has ample moisture. Wait for one of the rainy days and start the aeration process the following day.
- Does your whole garden need to be aerated or do you see only small pockets affected? If only a few areas are affected by compacted soil, focus only on the affected area. This will help you save time and energy.
- After creating soil plugs for aeration, leave them to dry. Once they have dried, run a lawnmower over them to create an even garden surface.
- Just because you have aerated your garden, it does not mean you can take a break from regular lawn-care practices, such as watering, mowing, and fertilizing. These are essential practices and cannot be replaced by aeration.
- While many people recommend seeding after aeration, it must be completely avoided if you are performing aeration during the spring season as a crabgrass preventer cannot be applied during this season and your lawn will also require way more water than usual during the spring season.
What Tools Would I Need to Perform Aeration?
Professional aeration services providers use two different types of tools for aeration: spike aerators and plug aerators.
- Spike aerators use a small fork or tine to create small holes in the grass.
- Plug aerators, on the other hand, remove proper grass and soil plugs from the garden for aeration.
Plug aerators are better for aeration than spike aerators. Both of these tools can be easily rented from a garden store, or purchased online from Amazon.com.
Aeration is an essential lawn care practice, especially if your garden registers heavy foot traffic or has soil thatch-rich soil.
However, aeration must be performed during the right season and the right way or it can lead to unwanted problems. We hope the tips and tricks shared in this article will help you aerate your lawn the best way.