4 Tips for Core Aeration of Your Lawn

4 Tips for Core Aeration of Your Lawn

Many homeowners have heard it’s beneficial to core aerate their lawn and it is! Core aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn and depositing the plugs on top of the lawn to break down and filter its contents back through the soil. This filtering of the plugs acts like a top dressing for the lawn.

Lawns that receive an annual aeration will be healthier, more vigorous and easier to maintain with less weeds and insects. It is recommended to aerate your lawn each fall to help promote growth and the continued health of your lawn. Here are four key points to consider when core aerating your lawn:

1. Aerating reduces soil compaction

Aeration will help to relieve the soil compaction, which will allow for deeper plant roots and better use of water and nutrients. Compacted soil prevents grass roots from establishing a healthy root system and will inhibit water and fertilizer from reaching the plant roots. Repetitive activities such as walking and playing and even mowing the lawn all contribute to the compaction of soil over time.

In most new construction, the topsoil on a property is compacted by the heavy construction machinery and traffic and is then left in place for the homeowner to attempt to grow a healthy lawn, so no lawn is too young to reap the benefits of aerating. Generally the top 1-1.5” of the soil is the most compacted.

2. Aerating reduces thatch accumulation

Most home lawns are subject to a buildup of thatch over time. Thatch is the accumulation of decaying plant tissue and clippings and if thatch is allowed to build up over one half inch it will prevent air, light and water from reaching down to the plants root zone.

Thatch is also an excellent breeding ground for insects and disease organisms. Core aeration combines the soil and thatch together deposited on top of the lawn to filter down with soil organisms to speed up the decay of the thatch layer.

3. The timing of aerating is important

Cool season lawns are best aerated in the spring and fall when soil moisture is better. If you would like to seed your lawn, fall would be a better option when combining with aeration. Aerating in the fall also enhances root depth and improves spring green up and growth.

Warm season lawns are best aerated in the late spring to summer when the lawn is green. You should avoid aerating a warm season lawn when it is dormant because it may encourage weed growth.

4. What you can expect after aerating

Immediately after core aerating, your lawn will have a lot of small core plugs laying on top of the grass. These plugs will eventually break apart and disappear into the lawn within a couple of weeks. There is no need to manually manipulate these plugs, however, routine mowing will also speed up this process by dispersing the material in the plugs as its cut up.

In about 7-10 days, the core hole will begin to fill up with the grass plant roots. Because of the additional exposure to the roots your grass will acquire more water, air and nutrients into the root zone. Therefore, you will see increased amount of time between waterings on your lawn without showing signs of wilt.

Aerating your lawn is a simple yet highly beneficial way to keep your lawn happy and healthy. If you are not interested in performing the work yourself, many local companies are available for hire to complete it for you. Now is the optimal time to do fall aerating. We suggest you do yours now.

About this Experts Contributor: Gregg Basse works for Professional Grounds, Inc, which provides lawn service in Washington, DC. Gregg has extensive knowledge of the green industry with 30 years experience and is a Virginia Certified Horticulturist. You can follow this contributor on Twitter @ProGrounds and Google+.

As of October 2, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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