Lawn Care Tips
In order to achieve a beautiful lawn, it is highly important to maintain proper mowing, fertilizing and watering. It is also important to ensure that nutrients can reach the soil beneath your grass. Aeration can be an extremely vital element to a healthy lawn because it allows air and water to penetrate built-up grass or lawn thatch.
What is Aeration?
Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.
The main reason for Aerating is to alleviate soil compaction. Compacted soils have too many solid particles in a certain volume or space, which prevents proper circulation of air, water and nutrients withing the soil. Excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements.
Should You Be Aerating Your Lawn?
One of the most common questions from homeowners is how to determine if they should be aerating their lawns. Your lawn is probably a good candidate for aerating if it:
Gets heavy use, such as serving as the neighborhood playground or racetrack. Children and pets running around the yard contribute to soil compaction.
Was established as part of a newly constructed home. Often, the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped or buried, and the grass established on subsoil has been compacted by construction traffic.
Dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This might mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem. Take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than 1/2 inch, aeration is recommended.
Was established by sod, and soil layering exists. Soil layering means that soil of finer texture, which comes with imported sod, is layered over the existing coarser soil. This layering disrupts drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor root development. Aerating breaks up the layering, allowing water to flow through the soil more easily and reach the roots.
When to Aerate Your Lawn?
The best time for aerating is during the growing season, when the grass can heal and fill in any open areas after the soil plugs are removed. Ideally aerate the lawn with cool season grass in the early spring or fall and those with warm season grass in the late spring.
What is Power Raking?
Power raking removes thatch, a tight mat of dead rhizomes, stems and roots, which builds up under the surface of the lawn. Some thatch is beneficial to lawns, but too much blocks water, air and nutrients from reaching the soil. If thatch gets thicker than 1/2 inch deep, the roots grow in the thatch instead of the soil.
If the grass roots grow in thatch, the lawn may not survive hot, dry weather in the summer. Thick layers of thatch provide a home for insects and can result in an uneven, bumpy surface on a lawn, making it hard to mow. Thatch prolongs high humidity for the roots, promoting fungal and bacterial diseases. It builds up in lawns that are heavily fertilized or grow in soil that is poorly aerated or drains poorly. Pesticides used to repel earthworms can also increase the layer of thatch.
Power raking is stressful to lawns so you should only do it when the thatch is thicker than 1/2 inch. You can't see true thatch by examining the top of your lawn. To check for thatch, cut several plugs 2-4 inches deep and look for spongy, reddish-brown mat between the grass and the soil.
Lawns depend on regular fertilizing to grow green and healthy. When applied properly lawn fertilizer gives the turf essential nutrients that help grow thick and resist environmental stress, weeds and pests.
If lawn soil is poor, weeds will quickly invade the areas. Fertilizing makes grass grow densely, choking out weeds. Proper Nitrogen stimulates growth and produces the deep green color of healthy grass, Phosphorus is necessary for strong root development, and Potassium is essential for disease resistance.
Overseeding consists of planting grass seed directly into existing turf without tearing up the lawn or the soil. This is a good way to fill in bare spots, improve density of the turf, and establish grass varieties to enhance your lawn's color.
If a lawn is old, needs a lot of water and/or fertilizer to thrive, is disease or insect prone - it is a perfect candidate for overseeding.