Core Aeration: The Rundown

September 22, 2019
The what, when, why and how on core aeration of your lawn

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While every lawn care service is beneficial and important to the health of your lawn, core aeration takes the top spot.  Over periods of time, turf areas can become extremely compact, often occurring after an event is hosted on the lawn such as a party, or from kids playing and especially sports fields and golf courses that receive a lot of traffic. During this process, a thick layer of thatch (comprised of dead stems and roots) takes over at the turf’s surface and your lawn can be starved of oxygen and water as a result. 

What Is Aeration?

Core aeration is the method of mechanically creating holes in the turf to allow moisture, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate into the soil. There are other methods out there such as spike aeration (where holes are stabbed into the turf) but mechanically pulling out the cores places less pressure on the turf and soil because it removes the actual core of the soil, turf and roots.

Core aerating also deposits the core plug onto the turf surface which will break down over the course of 2-4 weeks with proper watering. As the plugs break down they provide excellent nutrition for the existing soil along with increase the strength of your yard’s roots beneath the surface.

lawn aeration near me

Why Should My Lawn Be Aerated?

A common question homeowners and property managers ask is how to determine if they should aerate their lawn. Your yard will benefit most from core aeration if: 

    • Receives heavy use – if it routinely is the neighborhood playground or sports field for your kids, running on turf contributes to soil compaction.
    • Was recently established on a newly constructed home. The topsoil of newly installed lawns is stripped or buried and the grass has been established on soil that has been compacted by construction traffic (very common on commercial properties).
    • Dries out easily or feels very spongy. Usually this is due to excessive thatch. To test this, take a shovel to slice out your lawn approximately four inches deep, if the layer of thatch is greater than half an inch, aeration is highly recommended. 
    • Your lawn was established by sod and soil layering is in place. Which means that soil of finer texture is layered atop coarser soil. This disrupts drainage as water is retained in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor development of the roots. Aeration will break up the layering allowing water to flow through the soil to reach the roots.

Aeration allows moisture, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the soil while simultaneously reducing soil compaction. This enhances thatch breakdown, improves water infiltration and improves the turf’s response to fertilizer. 

Other Benefits To Core Lawn Aeration

Aeration allows moisture, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the soil while simultaneously reducing soil compaction. This enhances thatch breakdown, improves water infiltration and improves the turf’s response to fertilizer. 

Oxygenating your lawn through aeration also improves soil composition and maximizes your lawn’s rooting. Most importantly, it makes the lawn less susceptible to damage from weeds, insects, drought and disease. Combining aeration and overseeding is an excellent practice for an established lawn to relieve compaction and improve its solidity.

When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

The ideal time to aerate is during the growing season but avoid aerating in long stretches of hot, dry weather. When the turf gets time to heal and fill in the open areas after soil plugs were removed. For cool season turf it is best to aerate in early or middle spring, or early fall before temperatures become too cool for the turf to continue growth and recover. For warm season turf, it is best to aerate during late spring. 

How To Aerate Your Yard

If your lawn is in need of aeration, here are some tips on doing it yourself. 

    • Before starting, make sure the soil is moist enough. If the soil is too dry, the aerator may not be as effective as it could be with the soil being slightly moist. We recommend watering the day before the service is performed.
    • Depending on the machine used for aerating and the percentage of soil surface per pass, it would be beneficial to make multiple passes over the compacted areas
    • Allow the excavated plugs to dry and then break down over time or if they are unsightly, once dried you can run them over with your lawn mower.
    • Continue standard lawn care practices following aeration – including watering (especially if the lawn was overseeded), regular mowing and fertilizer as needed.

Homeowners often reach out and ask about lawn aeration pricing. The unique aspect of aerating is that hiring a lawn care professional is more cost-effective than investing the time to rent your own aerator, hauling it back to your property, aerating your lawn, then bringing it back to the rental facility. Request a quote today and save time and money!

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