As the heat of the summer starts to subside, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming season. Not only should fall be filled with football games and hot apple cider, but it should also be the time of year that you consider aerating your lawn. When accompanied with seeding, aerating gives your lawn the best chance to flourish during this time of the year.
You may be asking yourself, “Wait, why do I need to aerate my lawn?” Aerating has a variety of benefits, as long as your lawn needs it. To determine if your lawn is a good candidate for aeration, consider these factors:
- It gets heavy use, either by children, pets or other adults, and gets compacted over time.
- Your home was recently constructed.
- The lawn feels spongy and seems to dry out quickly.
- It was created using sod and layering.
If one of these factors applies to you, it’s time to start thinking about when and how you should go about aerating. As mentioned earlier, the beginning weeks of fall are generally an ideal time to get your aeration done. Pick a day when the ground is somewhat moist, rather than dry. A day or two after a decent rainfall or a thorough watering often works the best.
There are two different types of tools that are generally used to aerate lawns. One is a spike aerator, which is fairly self-explanatory: essentially, this aerator pokes holes in the ground to add space. Unfortunately, this device tends to pack the dirt even more in the areas that didn’t get poked. This is why the second tool, the plug aerator, is more often recommended. This tool removes plugs of soil from the ground, allowing the area around it to de-compact and move into the newly created open space.
If you aren’t interested in buying the aeration machine, many local lawn and garden or home improvement stores will have them available for rent. If cost is an issue for you, consider consulting with neighbors to see if they have one that they would be willing to loan to you, or if they would like to share the cost of renting one. Chances are if your lawn needs aeration, the people living around will need to aerate their yards as well.
If you do decide to rent or buy, make sure the aerator removes soil about two to three inches deep and two to three inches apart for the best results. You also do not want the diameter of the plugs to be more than .75 of an inch.
When aerating your lawn, you may need to go over the very compacted spots multiple times to get the desired results. After the aerating is finished, allow the plugs to dry. You will then need to break them up if you want your lawn to look normal again. You can do this by either smashing them with an upside-down facing rake, or running them over with your lawn mower. This will evenly distribute the soil back into your lawn without compacting it again and undoing all your hard work.
Although aerating is extremely beneficial for the lawns that need it, many people don’t take the time to consider if it is right for them and their yard. By giving your lawn the air it needs to breathe, you will reap the benefits of a luscious looking lawn in the future.