At STORM – The Lawn Pro, we make it our professional practice to aerate lawns once a year. If you want a great-looking lawn, aeration should be part of your annual lawn care program. Lawns can be aerated in spring, summer, or fall – some folks aerate twice a year, but once in fall is the best time. Fall aeration lets your lawn take full advantage of the good growing weather in late fall as grass puts down deep roots in preparation for winter and the next spring. Aeration is so beneficial to lawns that it’s standard practice on professionally used turf, such as sports fields and golf courses. The benefits all begin immediately, and last for months.
On a scale of 1 to 10, core aeration rates a 9 for improving your lawn quality, for three reasons:
- Aeration breaks the thatch barrier. Thatch build-up can prevent water, fertilizer, and air from reaching the topsoil. Aeration also speeds thatch breakdown by mixing the soil — from the cores that are pulled out — with the thatch.
- Aeration produces deeper, healthier grass roots, by creating thousands of small growth pockets, which harbor water and nutrients and attract the grass roots. Aerated soil becomes more porous and absorbs water and fertilizer better.
- Aeration loosens and decompresses your soil, creating room for the soil to expand. This makes it a roomier and friendlier environment for roots to grow in.
Once You’ve Been Aerated
After you aerate, wait a few days for the cores to dry out a little. Then set the lawn mower wheels down a couple notches (without scalping the lawn) and mow over the entire lawn, cores and all. Then put on a sharp blade again.
Or… for best results, you could use a dethatching blade on the mower. If you use a dethatching blade, set your wheels high and find the correct height so the blade touches the thatch but does not rip up the grass roots. A thorough raking is also dethatching, although it’s a lot of work. You can dethatch your own lawn four out of five years yourself. Once every five years, you should have a professional dethatch your lawn.
Why aerate in the fall?
It may frost several times in October or November in the Fox Cities area, and grass will visibly begin to appear going dormant, but don’t worry… roots are continuing their function and growth. Grass roots continue growing until the ground actually freezes. Aeration should be done in September, October or November when the roots are still growing and are actively preparing for their winter nap. In the fall, the cores are less likely to make a mess out of your lawn than in springtime when your lawn is often wet, meaning you will track less mud in the house. During the off-season, late November through early April, the cores will dissipate into your topsoil, leaving your lawn ready for use in springtime when you want to get on it. People also like to get outdoors and enjoy using their lawn in the springtime and generally stay off it during the winter.
Why aerate Every Year?
Year after year, the soil on your lawn gets compressed and compacted. This results in reduction in the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the roots of your grass. Thinning, stress, and loss of color result until the soil can no longer support grass growth. Bare spots begin to appear. An estimated 66% of residential lawns are existing on compacted soil.
Core aeration is used to allow air, water, and fertilizer into the root zone. A one, two, or three inch “plug” of soil is pulled out of the ground. If the plugs remain on the lawn they will simply decompose. Soil surrounding the plugged holes and the soil deposited on top will collapse and fill in the holes. This controlled removal of small soil cores allows your lawn to breathe. Core aeration creates a friendlier environment for roots, and helps the roots grow deeper. The deeper the roots, the healthier, thicker, and greener your lawn will be.
Human and especially machine traffic on the lawn, and even the weight of snow and ice in winter all contribute to the compaction of your topsoil. During the hot months of summer the sun bakes your soil. (When I treat your lawn in July or August, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to put my little signs in your lawn. I have to use a screwdriver in order to make a tiny hole in your hardened soil to put my little signs in.) Aeration decompresses and loosens up the soil, again creating a healthier environment for grass roots to grow in.
There’s an additional benefit of aerating… In the spring and fall, water in your lawn freezes and thaws, freezes and thaws, sometimes causing lawns to feel very bumpy. Rolling is one way to smooth out the lawn, but rolling compacts the soil. Aerating is a better way to keep the lawn smooth. Instead of heaving up and down as the soil freezes and thaws, aerating allows the soil to expand and contract sideways, keeping the surface of the lawn smooth for you. You could have your lawn rolled once, but after that, consider aerating instead. Because rolling compacts the soil, you should only have your lawn rolled if it is so bumpy that it’s dangerous, painful, or annoying to walk on or mow. Aeration can be muddy, but it’s the best way to go.
Contact the lawn aeration specialists at STORM – The Lawn Pro for all of your core aeration needs. We are proud to serve the Fox Cities area including Appleton, Hortonville, Greenville, Sherwood, Neenah, Menasha, Kaukauna, Little Chute, Kimberly and surrounding areas. You can reach at 920-659-6021 or as online or online if you should have any questions or would like to receive a free estimate.