Hold your breath. How long can you do it? Not as long as you would like, I bet. That’s because, as a living entity, you need to breathe. Your lawn is much the same way. It’s easy to see how we, as humans, can breathe. Your lawn, however, follows a very different process. Lawn aeration is a critical step in allowing your lawn to breathe, but timing is key. In this post, we will take a look at the importance if lawn aeration and the questions that surround it in an effort to get you the best looking lawn possible year after year.
Do you know what thatch is? How about compacted soil? These are the reasons why lawn aeration is so important.
Thatch is the build up of accumulated falling debris (e.g., leaves, straw, reeds, etc.) that can form a blanket across your lawn. Compacted soil happens over the course of a winter as snow and rain sink into the soil and settle, creating layers of, well, compacted soil. Both of these, combined or individually, can make it difficult for the roots of your lawn to get oxygen and other needed nutrients. Lawn aeration, performed in spring or autumn, really helps combat the effects of thatch and soil compaction. When performed in fall, it creates room for winter weather, which is crucial to hitting the ground running with fertilizer and weed control in the spring. Lawn aeration, sometimes known as “lawn airation” can involve just poking holes all over the lawn. This is often called “spiking.” This, alone, isn’t always the solution, though. Depending upon your lawn, the surrounding flora/fauna, and the time of year, spiking may not be enough. To aid lawn aeration, raking is crucial. In Michigan, it seems like leaves can fall for months. This is because different trees shed leaves at different times. Regardless, raking up all of your leaves, or as many as you can, will help reduce thatch-related problems and increase the effectiveness of lawn aeration.
The other component of lawn aeration, as previously mentioned, is to break up compacted soil to allow water and fertilizers to get down into the roots with greater ease. Different parts of your lawn can require more aeration that other. There are just some parts that get significantly more foot traffic, such as near swing sets or common dog-walking routes.
For warm-season grasses lawn aeration in the spring is often the better option. Not too early, though, as the soil needs to thaw. It can sometimes be difficult to predict spring thaw in Michigan, which is why cool-season grasses are popular in our part of the country.
In Michigan, cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, are quite common. For lawns with such types of grasses, fall season lawn aeration is a better option. The reason is that, contrary to warm-season grasses, later thaws in Michigan are common, so you can’t always bank on being able to aerate early enough in the spring for certain types of grasses. By aerating in fall, you can set yourself up from ground-freeze that preserves the holes through the winter season and well into a late spring when seeding and fertilization are prime for a cool-season grasses.
In a very general sense, spring or fall is good for lawn aeration. If you know what type of grass you have, however, you can get the best growth from aerating at the right time of year for your particular grass.
For commercial properties, lawn aeration can be a very big job, even if you only have to do it once a year. In fact, the time it takes (e.g., man-hours on the clock) to have a staff member handle the task, especially if you have to rent the equipment, can be well more than it takes to have E.P.M. do it for you. The frequency with which you should aerate your lawn can vary, often depend ending, again, upon climate. Some say every couple of years. When you live in an environment that has a blanket of snow on the ground for a good part of the year, annual lawn aeration is your best bet.
The way the lawn aeration works is actually rather simple. Lawn aeration equipment pulls small plugs of soil from the ground, thereby allowing air to get down to the roots. In general, the plugs, or “cores,” will be about 2-3 inches deep and come out of the lawn approximately every 3 inches or so. To make the whole process easier, it might be necessary to water the lawn on the day previous to aeration to soften the soil. Don’t overdo it, though; mud will only hinder the process.
Additionally, if you are facing significant problems with thatch–around an inch or more–using a vertical mower in advance may also be necessary. If this all seems a bit confusing and/or like a big task to undertake, contact us today and we can get you an estimate and a timeline based on your residential lawn aeration or commercial lawn aeration needs.