Over the past few years, homeowners have become more aware of the value inherent in yards, especially to create more usable square footage via curated outdoor living spaces. When you’re spending time outdoors with family and friends, the last thing you want is a patchy lawn that looks unkempt despite your best efforts.
If you’re watering and feeding your lawn as you should, one problem you may not have considered is the natural compaction of soil that can occur over time. Luckily, proper aeration can help to revive an ailing lawn and get you back on track for a lush, inviting outdoor oasis.
With a few tips from landscape professional Jennifer Miree Cope, you’ll soon have a vibrant, green lawn perfect for outdoor enjoyment.
What Is Aeration?
Whether you sprinkle seed or roll out sod to create your lawn, the roots of the plant penetrate into the soil, where they soak up the water and nutrients they need to survive.
While you may water frequently and regularly add nutrients to the soil to keep your lawn healthy, soil compaction can occur over time, especially in dense claylike soils or areas of heavy traffic. The increased soil density can squeeze root systems and impact air, water, and nutrient movements, affecting uptake and starving your lawn.
Aeration is the process of punching narrow holes down into the soil to combat compaction, loosen the soil to give roots more room, and increase the circulation and absorption of air, moisture, and nutrients.
Supporting a Green, Healthy Lawn with Aeration
You know it’s time to aerate when the overall health of your lawn is poor. This could appear as a lawn that suffers slow or irregular growth, has thinning or patchiness throughout, or has started to develop excessive thatch (dead plant material) on top. You may also notice puddles forming on the lawn when you water. So how do you go about aerating?
There are several tools that could help you do the job. Most consist of a wheel featuring spikes of some kind that penetrate into the soil when rolled over the lawn surface. Some spikes are solid, while others are hollow cylinders (core or plug aerators) designed to pull up chunks of soil.
Manual aerators work well but require significant labor. Power aerators are more costly but better suited for large lawns, especially if you need regular aeration.
When to Aerate
According to landscape professional Jennifer Miree Cope, it’s essential to time aeration right. If you aerate during a drought, for example, you could expose roots to heat and sunlight that do even more harm. It’s best to ensure the soil is moist for optimal outcomes.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to aerate warm-season grasses from late spring to early summer, while aeration for cool-season grasses should take place in early spring or fall. Annual aeration is recommended for clay soil or high-traffic lawns. If you’re unsure about aerating on your own, you can always consult with an experienced landscape professional.
About Jennifer Miree Cope
Jennifer Miree Cope is a landscaping professional and the founder of Jennifer Miree Cope Landscaping. Since earning a degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University, she has built a life in Birmingham, Alabama, where she enjoys a range of outdoor activities.
Jennifer supports several local charities, including organizations founded by the Independent Presbyterian Church of Birmingham and the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
This article cannot be re-published without permission.