Aeration or core aeration as it is correctly named is means to improve the quality of your lawn. Aeration is the process of removing cores of soil and grass about two or three inches long from the lawn and depositing them on the surface. In most cases, a heavy, gasoline powered core aeration machine is used to make the task quicker.
Why aerate your lawn
Over time, the soil in most lawns becomes compacted. This makes it difficult for the grass to develop a strong, deep root system. The compaction also prevents fertilizers from getting to the roots so they can be absorbed by the grass plants. Aerating the lawn removes the compacted soil so the roots have room to spread. Water and nutrients are also more easily absorbed by the grass plants. This makes them stronger and more able to withstand times of stress, such as a long dry spell.
When should a lawn be aerated?
The best times to aerate a lawn are spring and fall. Both times have advantages and disadvantages. In the spring, the soil is usually moist from the more generous amounts of rain and it is easier for the machine to pull good cores from the lawn. However, spring is also the time when weeds are more apt to start growing in the holes left behind. In the fall, the weeds are not growing as much and won’t become a problem. But, usually the soil is pretty dry from the summer and the machine has a more difficult time pulling cores of soil. In either the spring or fall, if the ground is too wet, that is also a bad time to aerate since the soil will be too muddy. It is best to aerate a few days after a good rain. If it hasn’t rained for a while, water the lawn well with about an inch of water. Then wait about two days before aerating.
How to aerate the lawn
By far, the easiest way to aerate your lawn is to hire someone to do it! However, many people like to do it themselves to save money. The power machine used to aerate a lawn is big, powerful, and heavy. You will get a very strenuous workout by doing the aeration yourself. It is a good idea to get together with one or two of your neighbors to help lift the machine and share the cost. The actual task of aeration is not difficult. You run the machine over the lawn as if you were mowing the lawn. To do the best job, go over the same area in two different directions, meaning first do the lawn from side to side, then from front to back.
After the lawn has been aerated, it is a good time to sprinkle some grass seed on the lawn and fertilize it. The grass seed will fall into the holes left by the aerator and, if you keep it moist, it will sprout and help rejuvenate the lawn.