Maintaining a vibrant and healthy lawn relies on numerous factors, including your irrigation practices, climate, and presence of diseases. One factor that often gets overlooked is the health of the soil underneath the grass. Often times, soil becomes compacted resulting in insufficient water penetration, a lack of nutrients absorbing into the grass, and thatches. If you’re noticing any of these problems in your otherwise well-maintained lawn, it may be time to aerate your soil.
Why to Aerate Your Lawn
Aeration is the process of puncturing the soil with small holes that better prepare the soil to accept water, air, and essential nutrients that help the grass roots to thrive. Aeration is a crucial step to combat the problem of compacted soil, which can leave your grass roots struggling to survive. Some of the most common reasons for compacted soil are areas of the lawn receiving heavy foot or vehicle traffic, as it results in constant pressure being exerted on the soil. Other typical causes of compacted soil include soil that is made of clay, as well as lawns that were planted as sod. If you find that your grass is drying out quickly and not absorbing water efficiently, your lawn may be in need of aeration.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
The optimal time to aerate your lawn generally depends upon the type of grass you have planted. Ideally, you’ll want to aerate during a time when your grass is still growing, so that it has a chance to heal and fill-in any areas where the grass roots are removed during the process. For cool season grasses, such as those that thrive in the New Jersey area, the best time to aerate your lawn is in either the spring or fall. If you live in a climate that favors warm season grasses, it’s best to complete your aeration during the late spring, before the temperatures get too scorching. In either case, these are both important times for your grass roots to replenish themselves with nutrients to either prepare for or recover from the hot summer temperatures.
How to Aerate Your Lawn
First, you’ll need to obtain an aerating tool. They can be rented from most garden supply centers, so there’s no need to invest in purchasing one unless you’ll be using it frequently. The two most common types of aerating tools available for home use are the plug aerator and the spike aerator. Most experts agree that the plug aerator is the more effective of the two, as it removes a small plug of the grass.
Once you have the proper equipment, you can begin the aeration process. Results are best when you aerate moist, but not soaked soil. If rain is in the forecast, try to aerate the day after a rainstorm. Also, be careful not to damage any of your irrigation or sprinkler lines with the aeration tool. After you are finished, it’s the perfect time to fertilize your lawn and make sure it is properly watered.