The best time to aerate a lawn is when you discover trouble areas. Although the best advice is to do this chore once per year at the start of the grass’s growth cycle, that rule doesn’t apply to every situation.
Since aerating solves soil compaction, excessive thatch, and nutrient distribution problems, it’s an essential tool you can use at any time of year.
The schedule you follow for lawn aeration differs based on usage habits, soil type, and the grass seed planted to create a lush, green landscape. Here are the following factors to consider before you get started on this chore.
1. Aerate When Problems Arise
Lawn aeration confers the best benefits your grass exhibits when any of the following conditions occur on your property.
- Hard or Dry Soil. When the lawn feels dry and dense, it might be time to run an aerator. It also feels hard underfoot when walking on the surface. You’ll know for sure if it is hard to insert a screwdriver or a shovel into the sod.
- Uneven Growth. If a lawn starts developing bare patches where nothing grows (including weeds), you know the area is probably compacted. Performing aeration work can give the existing root system access to the air, nutrients, and water it needs.
- Poor Drainage. Irrigation or rainwater pools in the low areas of a lawn because it doesn’t have the chance to permeate into the soil. By using this care technique, drainage improvements start happening right away.
- Thick Thatch. Try removing a square foot of sod from your lawn. If the thatch layer is more than a half-inch thick, you’ll want to aerate a dethatch to boost microbial activity in the area.
High traffic areas can cause soil compaction quickly. If you’ve had heavy equipment, including a riding mower, on the property weekly throughout the year, it’s often better to aerate twice per year instead of once.
2. Aerate for Your Grass Type
The best time to aerate a lawn is when the holes can get quickly filled with new grass. That means the seasons of high growth are the best times to target this work.
The types that prefer cool weather do better in the fall, while those that like warmer temperatures need aeration in the late spring or early summer.
When the lawn is dormant, you can do significant damage to the grass by aerating. You should leave the soil alone whenever you have periods of extreme heat, drought, or freezing temperatures.
3. Aerate for Your Soil Type
Aeration frequency often depends on the soil type you have around your home. The traffic levels it receives can also influence the work.
Here are the principles you’ll want to follow with today’s three common soil types.
- For homeowners with a high-traffic lawn or clay soil, it’s usually necessary to aerate twice per year. These areas tend to experience the most compaction. []
- When loamy or silty soil is present with moderate traffic levels, an annual aeration appointment with your lawn is usually enough to meet its health needs. []
- If sandy soil is present, or the grass doesn’t get much foot traffic at all, it might be sufficient to aerate every other year. []
It’s often better to time aeration work with the other lawn care tasks that need to be finished. If you plan to overseed, you’ll want to do that right after you’ve done the aerating work. Weed control, fertilization, sod establishment, and watering all influence how successful the results will be with this investment.
4. Think About the Time of Day
The best time of day to aerate a lawn is when the soil is moist. It shouldn’t be saturated, which means you should not have any liquid pooling on the surface.
It’s usually best to do the work the day after it rains. If you have a sprinkler system, you can do the job the day after running the irrigation.
Having moist soil will make it easier for the blades, coring machine, or spikes to penetrate to their maximum efficiency. Doing the work in the morning when humidity levels are high and temperatures are low also prevents the moisture in the grass from evaporation. []
By taking these factors into account, you’ll aerate your lawn on an appropriate schedule that supports its overall health in each season.tom-20141004-column.html