If your lawn isn’t looking healthy, it may be struggling with issues such as excessive thatch, soil compaction, and poor drainage. Luckily, core aeration is an easy way to alleviate all three of these issues in one service. Aeration also helps create growth pockets for new roots and opens the way for fertilizer to reach the root zone of your lawn, making it one of the most important cultural practices available for your lawn.
What is Core Aeration?
During the aerating process, a machine goes over the lawn and punches holes through the thatch, into the soil, and pulls out cores. It’s typically recommended that you leave resulting soil plugs on top of the lawn to breakdown naturally with regular watering and mowing, returning the nutrients from the soil back into your lawn. Some customers find those cores unsightly, in which case they can be broken down faster by mowing and hitting them with the back end of a rake.
How Does Aeration Control Thatch?
Thatch is a layer of organic debris such as dead grass and leaves that builds up between blades of grass and soil. A certain amount of thatch is beneficial but too much can essentially suffocate your lawn. The easiest way to determine whether or not there is excessive thatch in your lawn is to take core sample. Dig a small hole into the soil and pull a plug about three to four inches deep. If you find this to be too difficult or you do not have the right tool, your AAA Lawn care technician can easily take a core for you with a soil probe. Either way, a build-up of ¾ to one inch or more of thatch indicates your lawn may not be getting the water and nutrients it needs.
There are two options to removing thatch in your lawn: aerating or dethatching. Aerating is typically easier on the lawn and more cost effective than dethatching, so it is typically recommended first. However, in really severe cases of excessive thatch, a dethatching service may be necessary. Although aerating doesn’t initially remove all of the thatch, it does encourage the natural microbes in the soil to break it down over time.
Alleviating Soil Compaction through Aeration
Although some soil types are more likely to suffer from compaction than others (such as soils heavy with clay), soil compaction is oftentimes most apparent in highly-trafficked areas. Water puddling in certain areas of the lawn can be a good indicator of soil compaction. Soil compaction is a big concern because it does not allow proper water, nutrients, and fertilizer to get to the roots of your grass. Simply put, aeration is the single most important thing you can do to break up soil compaction.
How Often and When to Aerate
It’s best to aerate regularly, rather than waiting until after your soil has become too compacted or developed too thick a thatch layer. Especially for our customers who have a lot of foot traffic on their lawns or clay soils, we recommend aerating once a year. When performed regularly, core aeration helps grass roots grow much stronger and deeper, resulting in a lawn that is greener, healthier, and less susceptible to damage from insects, heat, and disease problems.
AAA Lawn Care performs core aerations all throughout the year, starting in the spring and ending in the fall. Our goal is to space our customers’ aerations about twelve months apart. However, we do recommend specifically aerating in the spring or fall for those customers that plan on seeding in either season. Aerating just before or just after seeding helps that new seed get deeper into the soil and to also get the nutrients, water, and oxygen it needs to grow into thick, healthy grass.
If you have more questions about aeration for your technician or to add a core aeration to your schedule, please call us at (888) 374-7336.