Lawn Aeration: What Is It Good For?

Blog Category: Lawn Care
October 15, 2019 by Wright Outdoor Solutions
aeration plugs in a green lawn

The What

Lawn aeration: we’ve all seen the aftermath. Those tell-tale soil cores dotting a lawn, but do lawn owners know what it’s all about? Aeration is a simple thing, with a big payoff, you can do to support the health and efficacy of your lawn.

The Why

The benefits of aerating your lawn are numerous. Aeration sets off a chain reaction of processes advantageous to your lawn.

  • Aeration reduces soil compaction.
    • Normal use of your lawn such as walking and playing on it, as well as use of mowers and other equipment can cause soil impaction.
    • Often during home construction, the fertile topsoil gets removed or buried, leaving grass to be planted in subsoil. Subsoil has a higher clay content and is more packed, which is not as good for your turf.
    • Even a quarter of an inch of soil compression can block the flow of water and nutrients to grass roots. Aeration releases pressure in the soil and allows for increased exchange of oxygen into the soil and carbon dioxide out of it.
  • The many benefits of increased exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
    • It promotes root growth for the grasses in your lawn by allowing air, water and fertilizer to better reach the root zone, in turn stimulating healthier, more resilient grass plants.
    • It increases your lawn’s water intake, lessening improper drainage, pooling or run-off, and increases resistance to heat and drought.
  • Aeration helps with thatch breakdown.
    • In lawn care, thatch is a layer of organic matter (dead grasses) that accumulates on a lawn around the base of the grass plants. Although a thin layer of thatch is beneficial, left unmanaged it can impede water, fertilizer and pesticide effectiveness. Thatch accumulation should not exceed half an inch as it can block air, light and water from reaching root zones. Aeration reduces buildup and combines soil with the thatch debris allowing the soil organisms to better break down the thatch.

The When

Aeration is recommended at least once yearly. The average residential lawn will suffice with once or twice a year, but areas with more foot traffic like public parks and golf fairways could need aerated up to five times a year.

Due to variations in climate, something we know well in Iowa, there is no one date fits all for lawn aeration, but the time you aerate is important to note:

  • If you have cool season grass, which we do here in Iowa, the best time to aerate is in the fall before the first hard frost (which is typically early October for the Des Moines metro). Doing so can prepare your lawn for winter dormancy and spring growth by giving your grasses enough of a nutrient buffer to protect the grass from summer draught.
  • If you have warm season grass, shoot for aerating in the spring and early summer while the grass is actively growing, but before it gets too hot and dry.

The How

Below are the steps you can expect when you aerate your lawn:

  • Your lawn will need to be mowed to a specific grass height and watered roughly 24 hours before aeration. Doing so maximizes the depth the aerator can penetrate the soil.
  • The act of aerating employs a mechanical aerator with hollow tines that go into the soil and pull out roughly 2-inch cores, depositing them on your lawn. The cores then break down, feeding nutrients into your soil. They should disappear within a week or two.
  • Water your freshly aerated lawn daily once or twice, as directed by the lawn care crew who perform your aeration. After this initial watering period, your lawn should have higher heat and drought tolerance.
  • After aeration is an excellent time to overseed your lawn and get rid of gaps where weeds can grow, or thin areas in your yard. It is also the best time to apply herbicides and fertilizers.
  • Keep foot traffic off the lawn and do not mow for two weeks after. If you took this opportunity to seed, resume mowing when the new grass is at a height of two inches.

The Who

Our experts at Wright Outdoor Solutions offer a complete package of lawn care services to keep your lawn healthy and beautiful, including aeration, overseeding and fertilizing. To learn more about keeping your lawn looking its best, click here, or request a quote today.