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Soil Aeration Guide – How and When to Aerate Your Lawn

Avid gardeners know just how critical soil aeration is to the health and resilience of their lawns. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or are just getting started in this wonderful journey, soil aeration has to be part of your gardening repertoire. The tips shared here will help you learn how to do it right and, most importantly, when to aerate your lawn.

What is Soil Aeration?

This is quite simply the process of poking small holes into your garden so that important nutrients and elements such as air and water can more easily penetrate the soil and get to the plant roots. By regularly aerating your soil, you will alleviate soil compaction, which tends to stifle plant growth.

This process helps the roots of your plants grow deeply, thus making them stronger and lusher. The main idea here is to help provide as much air and breathability to the soil in your garden for better plant health.

Additionally, when aerating your soil, the tool you use helps to break up other nutrients that might have compacted therein, thus providing your plants with their vital goodness.

How Do You Know it's Time to Aerate Your Soil?

Have you ever noticed that despite the best possible care (watering, weeding, regularly mowing, etc.), your lawn doesn't seem to be doing as well as it should be? There are several reasons for this, and one of the most insidious ones is thatch or organic debris.

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Technically, thatch is made up of plant shoots, roots, and stems that tend to build-up over time to form a thick top layer on your lawn. When this thatch gets to be about half an inch thick or more, it begins to compromise the health of your lawn in two ways:

  • Creates a thick layer that prevents the plant's roots from getting the much-needed nutrients and elements that they need
  • Promotes insect and disease manifestation that ruin your grass and other lawn plants

Furthermore, too much of this thatch can make it difficult for you to mow your lawn properly. That thick and spongy consistency cause your lawn mower wheels to sink in, thus causing the blades to scalp your lawn in the process.

Soil aeration can help get rid of this thick thatch. Therefore, if you find that your lawn just isn't doing as well as it should be despite all other efforts, maybe it's time to aerate it!

That being said, here are some other indicators showing you that you need to aerate your lawn as soon as possible:

  • Your lawn is part of a recently constructed house: Because of the construction traffic that comes with building a house, the topsoil of your lawn will inevitably become quite compacted.
  • The lawn seems to get dehydrated quickly: If your lawn feels supple yet gets dehydrated quickly, it means that there is excessive thatch on it. Simply measure the thatch on your lawn, and if it's thicker than half an inch, it is best to aerate.
  • Your lawn typically sees heavy traffic: Playing children, pets, house parties, and cook-outs, these are reasons why your lawn could see more traffic than usual. If this is your lawn, then you need to aerate it as often as possible since this excessive traffic leads to soil compaction.
  • If you have recently done soil layering: This is the process of spreading a thin layer of garden compost over your lawn to grow seeds. With time, this thin layer will lead to the disruption of water drainage and soil compaction. The seeds that will grow on it won't have very good root development unless you aerate often.

Finally, you can aerate your lawn because you want your plants to get more nutrients and be healthier.

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When Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

Just as you need to know when exactly to plant new seeds, you also need to know when the best time to aerate your lawn is in your particular location. The general rule of thumb to follow is:

You should aerate your lawn when the grass on it has the best chance to repair itself and grow.

This is mostly because any aeration tools you use will have plugs that can destroy and remove chunks of grass all over the lawn. Your lawn's ability to grow and repair itself will help to cover this up quickly and leave you with the lush, green, and evenly thatched lawn you like so much.

Essentially, this means that you should aerate your lawn in the growing season, which tends to defer from location to location. It also means that you should plan it according to the type of grass you have on your lawn.

Cool season grass tends to grow best in the fall or early spring. Warm season grass, on the other hand, tends to grow best in early summer or late spring. These are, therefore, the best time to aerate lawns that have these types of grasses, respectively.

How to Aerate Your Lawn

Lawn aeration calls for specialized tools. Some of the best tools used in lawn aeration include:

  • Spike Lawn Aerator: Good spike lawn aerators like the Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator of the TONBUX Lawn Aerator Shoes are very easy to use. All you have to do is puncture your lawn at relatively even intervals throughout its entire length and breadth.
  • A Plug Lawn Aerator: This type of plug lawn aerator removes chunks of soil in your garden to facilitate aeration. All you have to do is drag it along the entire lawn.

You could also go for manual aeration processes such as sticking a garden knife into the soil at even intervals or using a rake and jamming your foot over it so that the spikes go deep into the soil.

Regardless of the type of lawn aeration tool you use, soil aeration is something that you should look to do as often as necessary. How often that is will depend on the type of soil you have, the traffic on your lawn, and whenever you deem it necessary through your visual assessment.

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