Keeping Your Lawn Healthy: When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

When should you aerate your lawn header

Aeration is one way to keep your lawn lush and healthy. So, when should you aerate your lawn? Read on to find out.


Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn


Everybody needs to breathe, right?

Well, your lawn needs to breathe, too. That’s why it needs aeration. 

Basically

Aeration is the process of putting air into the soil. This way, the grass roots will be able to breathe. 

Not only that, it allows the roots to properly acquire the nutrients needed to be healthier.

Look

The basic reason why aeration is needed is because sometimes, soil gathers into clumps. Lawn thatch also cannot be avoided. Then, there is also soil compaction.

The soil clump and the thatch need to be broken up. The same could be said with compact soil as the air could hardly penetrate through it. 

What happens then?

These could prevent oxygen from infiltrating the soil and going through the roots of the grass. 

The same could be said with the water and the nutrients. They would have a hard time infiltrating through the compact soil and thatch. 

If this is the case

Your lawn will not be healthy and will not look healthy.

If an unhealthy person looks emaciated, an unhealthy grass will more or less look the same. The grass will not be as green as it should be and there would be bald patches. 

You don’t want that!

Another problem that happens due to lack of aeration is the presence of moss. 

People think that moss is a problem that can be solved with herbicides. Although, that can be true, there is always a deeper reason for moss growing on the lawn. 

Let me explain

One reason why moss abounds is due to poorly drained soils. The water didn’t drain properly because of the compact soil or presence of thatch. 

Compact soil is also a result of foot traffic, which is understandable. 

Look at it this way

The lawn can be your playground. You can have picnics on it and play ball on it. You can roll on it and sunbathe on it. 

Mother and child laying on grass

When your lawn has witnessed many activities, it’s bound to feel the effects, too. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t tread on your lawn because what’s the use of having a pretty lawn if you can’t maximize its benefits? 

Instead

Just aerate the lawn. It’s not that big of a deal. 

When the lawn is not aerated or when the grass roots don’t get the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients they need, the grass will struggle with their growth. 

Yep!

We’re back to our person analogy. If a person is malnourished, they will have a hard time functioning. 

It’s the same with the lawn. It will not be able to cope with stressful situations if it is not fed properly. 

This means

When foot traffic is heavy, the grass will be damaged and it would have a hard time repairing the damage. It doesn’t have enough nutrients to bounce back. 

So, it will lose its vibrant color. Then, you might as well forget having a lush quality for your lawn. 

Plus

The grass won’t be able to cope with the changing season. When it’s too hot or when there is heavy rainfall, the grass may get damaged further because it’s not fully equipped or nourished to thrive in stressful situations. 

The grass will eventually thin out and die. 

Avoid that at all costs!

You spent money on your lawn, so take good care of it so your investment will not be for naught. 

Two girls with balloons running away from camera

When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?


You know it’s time to aerate the lawn because there are already a number of thatches in it. 

What is a thatch?

This is a layer of organic materials that have built up around the base of the grass. It is a combination of living matter and dead plants. 

Don’t get this wrong. It’s not about the grass clippings. 

Let me elaborate

Grass clippings are generally advised to be left on the lawn after mowing. This is a good way to put nutrients back onto the lawn. 

Grass clippings are basically lawn food. They have nitrogen and potassium that are important to the grass. 

Back to the thatch

One thing that makes thatch a problem on the lawn is that it contains 25% lignin. This is a complex organic polymer.

Lignin isn’t necessarily bad. It is actually an essential component in the support tissues of most plants because they add to their rigidity. 

Hower, that same component allows it to become highly resistant to decomposition, which is a bad thing for the lawn. 

Posh house with nice lawn

That’s why

You need to remove or break up that thatch through aeration. 

Although, there is also such a thing as dethatching. It’s different from aeration, but the process of poking holes helps break up the thatch buildup. 

In a way, aeration is the preparation for actual dethatching. 

Another thing:

If you see puddles developing on the lawn after rainfall, then that means the water is not draining properly. That could be due to the compaction of soil. 

Therefore, it might be time to aerate. But there is also a good rule of thumb for the appropriate time to aerate the lawn.

So, when is the best time to aerate?

Aerating the lawn in the spring or in the fall will greatly help in reducing lawn thatch. 

To be more specific, it depends on the type of grass you have. For cool-season grass, you should do the core aeration in early fall. 

On the other hand, for warm-season grass, you can do the aeration between mid-spring to early summer. Although, summer is the time when the lawn is at its best. You don’t have to disturb it during that time. 

How often?

You can do the aeration once a year. Unless you have a golf course, that’s fine. Golf courses are aerated at least twice a year. 


How Is Aeration Done?


Here are some materials you can use for aeration:

  • Garden fork
  • Rake
  • Lawn aerator

But the materials are not limited to these. There are more that you can use. 

Here’s the deal

If your lawn has a minor thatching problem, then you can just do the superficial aeration. This is the process of using the garden fork or rake to poke holes into the lawn. 

But if you have a major problem in your hands (or in your backyard), then you would need to do core aeration. 

What is core aeration?

This a major form of aeration where you will actually need a machine to do the work. The machine is called a lawn aerator. 

The lawn aerator has hollow tines that would mechanically poke the lawn and remove small clumps of soil and thatch. 

Therefore

There are already channels for the air to go through. This way, oxygen, nutrients, and water can already penetrate the deepest parts of the soil. 

As a result, the roots of your grass will be properly fed and nourished. 

Spade and fork resting against tree

Here’s a question:

Should you buy a lawn aerator?

If you have the extra money and space, then you can. However, if you don’t have the extra money, and especially if you don’t have the space for it, it may not be practical to actually own one. 

Remember, you only aerate at least once a year. It’s best to just call a professional to do the aeration for you, or you could rent the equipment and do it yourself. 


Summary


When should you aerate your lawn? One, if you are having a grave thatching problem, then maybe it’s time to aerate the lawn. Two, if puddles are forming on the lawn, it means that your soil is too compact and you probably need to aerate already. 

But there is also a good rule of thumb: aerate your lawn once a year. If you have cool-season grass, aerate in the fall. When you have warm-season grass, aerate between mid-spring and early summer. 

Aeration is essential. If you want to have healthy and lush grass, you need to aerate it once a year. That’s one of the regular things you need to do aside from watering and mowing the lawn, as well as applying fertilizer.


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