Is the health and vigor of your lawn starting to wane? Your lawn has suffered after experiencing that spike in growth during the spring growing season and then making it through a hot, muggy summer. And if you’re used to seeing thick, green turf, a thin, faded lawn will stand out.
At least once every three years, your lawn needs to be aerated. Aerating lawns twice a year may be beneficial for those with compacted soil or soil with a high clay content.
Aeration and overseeding become relevant in this situation. The benefits of aerating your lawn and what it can do for turf revival will be discussed.
Reasons to Aerate Your Lawn
Core aeration is when you use a machine which looks similar to a walk behind mower called an aerator. It is used to traverse the lawn and extract small soil plugs or cores. The lawn is then covered in those cores. Depending on the amount of rain, these cores start to decompose in the following week or so. Rich organic matter is redeposited into your lawn’s soil as a result of the breakdown of the soil.
Although it seems easy, this procedure gives your turf a lot of advantages.
It’s crucial to first comprehend the requirements for healthy lawns. Oxygen, water, and nutrients are necessary for the healthy growth of lawn roots. Your lawn soil may become compacted as a result of foot traffic and regular, daily activity, which prevents roots from receiving oxygen, water, and nutrients.
This compacted soil can now again nourish the roots of your lawn thanks to core aeration, which breaks up the soil. A great lawn is largely dependent on healthy soil. Aeration also assists in deeper turfgrass root establishment.
At this time, overseeding is typically a wise decision. Maximum seed to soil contact is necessary for ideal seed germination. When you aerate, you naturally create these pockets which allows for optimum seed to soil contact, boosting your seed germination results. This can help a thin or bare lawn become thicker, keep weeds out, and improve the turfgrass stand as a whole.
How Often Should I Aerate My Lawn?
How frequently you aerate your lawn can vary depending on the type of soil you have.
Once a year or even twice a year are usually adequate for clay soils, depending on how compacted they are. Because they are porous and allow for better oxygen flow to the roots, sandier or loam soils may not require as much aeration.
Can You Aerate Your Lawn Too Much?
You can tell your soil needs aeration if you walk on it and it feels rock solid and appears thin or patchy.
But if your grass is strong and healthy, and hasn’t been damaged by a lot of machinery or foot traffic, it probably doesn’t require aeration.
Most of the time, once a year is sufficient, and for healthy lawns that are well-maintained and performing well, every two to three years may be adequate.
Best Time to Aerate and Overseed Lawn
Your region and the type of turf in your yard will determine the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn.
Early September is a good time to overseed and aerate in the Northeast and Midwest during the late summer (late August-early September).
The regulations alter slightly for southern areas with colder winters. Perennial ryegrass can be overseeded over Bermudagrass in the fall to prevent it from looking drab during the winter. During late spring to late summer, when zoysiagrass is at its most productive, it can be overseeded. From spring to summer, bahiagrass can be overseeded.
Aeration & Overseeding Mistakes to Avoid
Aeration and overseeding have many advantages for your lawn when done properly.
Avoid making common mistakes that can waste time, money, and prevent you from getting the most out of your work.
Avoid these typical errors people tend to make when aerating and overseeding:
- Using the incorrect tools. Spiked shoes don’t do the same thing as an aerator and can further compact your soil. Professionals prefer using a core or plug aerator, which removes 2- to 3-inch soil plugs at intervals of roughly 2 to 3 inches, at half-inch diameter. Your turf can also be harmed by using the wrong equipment or using it improperly, so be careful to operate equipment correctly by carefully reading the instructions.
- Disregarding the best timing. Respect the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn. For example, during dry spells, overseeding and aeration would be necessary. You won’t be able to water your plants enough to ensure maximum seed germination.
- Inadequate watering. After aerating and overseeding, you should water your lawn to maintain an even moisture level. If you have heavy clay soil, this will take longer than if you have sandy soil. It is advised to water seeds for 5–10 minutes in the morning and again in the evening until seedlings appear for proper seed germination. Until those seeds germinate, which takes 10 to 14 days, you want to keep your soil moist. Once the seed has sprouted, you can cut back on watering to once daily for 20 to 25 minutes until the lawn is established, at which point you can resume your regular watering schedule.
- Inadequate mowing techniques. Wait until seedlings are tall enough to be cut when they first sprout because they are very delicate. Prior to mowing fresh seedlings, make sure your mower’s blade is sharp.
- Aerating and overseeding while simultaneously attempting to combat weeds. When growing turfgrass, you want to create the best conditions possible for seeds to take root and grow. Weeds will obstruct this process, but you should wait until after seed germination and after you’ve mowed about two to three times (roughly four to six weeks) before using any herbicide to try and control weeds.
Remember – aeration is a beneficial practice for achieving a beautiful lawn, but many people don’t understand the process.
Your grass will appreciate you for allowing it to breathe again if you include aeration in your routine lawn care routine.
What is the Best Month to Aerate My Lawn?
The best time to aerate your lawn is in late summer or early fall, as this will allow your grass to recover completely before going dormant in the winter. Although fall is ideal, you can overseed and aerate your lawn between March and May.
Should Lawn Be Wet Or Dry When Aerating?
Aerating is easiest on you (or your equipment operator) and your lawn when your soil is moist from irrigation or rainfall the day before. Overly dry soil can be tough to aerate, so moisture eases the process. Never aerate a lawn that is too wet; wait a few days instead.
Should I Pick Up Plugs After Aerating?
As we’ve established, don’t remove aeration plugs. The lawn plugs take one to two weeks to naturally decompose, but there are some things you can do to make the process go more quickly. You can hope for rainfall, but you can also water the lawn to help the plugs break down.