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Lawn aeration is a great way to increase the health and longevity of your beautiful grass lawn, no matter what size. The process involves removing small chunks of soil to reduce the impact of soil compaction on your lawn’s root system. By doing so, roots have additional room to grow, which allows for healthier, richer grass in the long run. Aeration helps soil to receive more air by removing small cores of soil from the ground, allowing more air to reach roots and soil.
At first, aeration may seem like an odd concept. It does look a bit weird to bore a bunch of holes all around your lawn and leave the cores on the surface. If you’ve never seen it before, it definitely looks pretty odd! However, once you get in the habit of aerating your grass once a year, you should begin to notice a positive change in your lawn’s health.
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Aerating your lawn is more than just encouraging root growth and air flow. The process also helps with soil water and fertilizer uptake, which will help your lawn absorb more nutrients with less rainfall. The process of aeration also helps to reduce soil compaction, which further allows for more oxygen to reach the roots of the grass. More access to air, water, and nutrients will help your lawn stand up to wear and tear, as well as hot and stressful drought conditions.
Many people don’t know that when a house is built, the area where the lawn is placed usually experiences increased compaction from construction equipment and increased activity. This compaction is further exacerbated by human activity, such as children playing or mowing the lawn. Rainfall can even compact soil over time, resulting in much more dense, clay-like soil over time. Compacted soil, typically the first few inches of soil, contains fewer air spaces and is more resistant to root growth. Compacted soil leaves less room for roots to expand and find additional nutrients, which if left unchecked can stunt the growth of grass or sod beyond a certain point. Aeration helps to reverse this process and make your yard’s soil a bit more similar to topsoil, which is much richer in nutrients.
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The average lawn only really needs to be aerated about once a year, unless it’s used very heavily, very often. As a reference point, grass areas that receive heavy traffic, such as sports fields or golf courses, are often aerated three to five times a year. Too much aeration can actually hurt your lawn, as it does not allow enough time for the roots to expand and the original holes to fill in.
The process of aeration is fairly easy, especially with the advent of modern aerators. Aeration is best done either in the spring, between March and May, or in the fall, between August and November. Choosing the time of year depends on your type of grass, as more warm-season grasses are best aerated in later spring months. If you’re planning on using fertilizers or herbicides, it’s key to apply them after aeration, followed by a thorough watering-down of the lawn.
After using an aerator, your lawn will be covered by small plugs of soil that will break down after about two weeks or so. Within a week or so of aeration, you should begin to notice roots beginning to fill in the holes that were dug out in the aeration process. This development is a great indication that the roots are responding to increased space and air and are beginning to strengthen.
The benefits of aeration can truly make a difference in your lawn. Not only will you have healthier, stronger grass, but your yard will also need less water and nutrients to retain its health and strength. In addition, stronger roots will help keep out invasive weeds and pests, which will help your yard to remain uniform. It’s important to understand, however, that these benefits will not happen over night. It will take time for your grass to adjust to the new conditions, and for your yard to strengthen again after aeration.
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In extreme cases, a power rake may be necessary to remove the layer of thatch, or decaying plant material, that is between the grass and soil. Some thatch is necessary for healthy grass, but can be harmful if it exceeds ½ inch. Heavy thatch can be a breeding ground for harmful insects, weeds, and other undesirables. A power rake helps to remove thick layers of thatch by using a rotating wire or blade to slice through the thick debris. As noted earlier, this is only in very extreme cases, and should be used sparingly as it can cause damage to grass.
If you think that your yard could benefit from an annual or bi-annual aeration, or even dethatching, stop by Pine Valley Rental in Pagosa Springs, CO to rent your equipment today! We carry a number of aerators and power rakes that are equipped to get the job done. If you have any questions about the process, or would just like to know about the benefits, feel free to ask!