Not sure if your lawn needs core aeration? Then take this quiz:
Core Aeration Quiz
- Does your lawn have bare patches or areas where the grass doesn’t grow well?
- Do you have a difficult time digging in the soil with a shovel because the ground is so hard?
- Is your grass thin?
- Does water pool on your lawn after watering or a heavy downpour?
- Is your grass brown?
- Does your lawn feel spongy or is there no spring in your step when you walk across it?
- Do you have over 1/2″ of thatch?
- Is your soil heavy clay?
- Does your lawn have lots of weeds?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then your lawn may be compacted.
Effects of Soil Compaction
When your soil becomes compacted, it does not have space between the pores to transport air, water and nutrients that the grass needs to grow and thrive. Consequently the grass suffers and plant growth is limited.
“Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water and compaction reduces total pore space and the amount of air within the soil.” (Source: City of Calgary)
When your lawn and soil is compacted, water has a difficult time finding it’s way to reach the roots of the grass, pools on the surface and your grass doesn’t get enough water and turns brown.
With compacted soil, air has a difficult time reaching the grass roots, starving your lawn of essential nutrients which it requires in order to be healthy. Also, with reduced oxygen levels in compacted soil, you will find less organisms and earthworms to decompose the thatch in your lawn and it builds up.
In order to maintain the health of your lawn, it is widely recommended to aerate your lawn annually.
Core aeration removes small plugs of thatch and soil from your turf. The plugs are left on your lawn to decompose, providing nutrients for your lawn. The holes created allow your lawn to breathe and will fill in within a few weeks, depending on soil conditions, weather and time of year.
It can be can be done manually, but for best results a core aerator machine is recommended.
Core aeration is recommended once per year in the spring or fall.
Causes of Compaction
Lawns become compacted with age and heavy use.
Heavy use includes:
- Extensive use of the lawn, by children or pets
- Lots of foot traffic, perhaps being used as a shortcut
- Parking a vehicle on the lawn
- Driving on the lawn when it is too wet
- Riding lawnmowers
Benefits of Core Aeration
According to the City of Calgary, “Core aeration can benefit your lawn by:
- Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose thatch
- Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil
- Improving rooting
- Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas”
Tips When Aerating
Some general recommendations when aerating:
- water your lawn thoroughly a few days prior to aerating. This will allow the tines to penetrate deeper into the soil and the cores will have an easier time falling out of the tines.
- aerate when the soil is moist, not wet. If the soil is too wet, then the soil cores will stick in the hollow tines and a fairly simple job will become muckier, more complicated and frustrating.
- aerate the lawn in multiple directions to make sure you have complete coverage of the area.
- lawns which are newly seeded or have new sod should not be aerated in the first year.
- when considering spring aeration, if you see dandelions appearing in your lawn, it is too late to aerate. Spring aeration should be done prior to when weeds start to germinate in order to best prevent weeds.
- when aerating in the fall, it is best to wait until after temperatures have cooled off.
- before aerating make sure to make note of locations of the following in order to avoid damage:
- sprinkler heads and water lines
- underground utilities, cable, and septic lines
Methods of Aerating
In order to consistently and properly aerate you lawn, a mechanical aeration machine is recommended. You can rent a machine or have this done professionally by an experienced lawn care provider. To learn about our Core Aeration service, click here.
Not sure if your lawn could benefit from core aeration? Then please feel free to contact your local office and our team of experienced professionals will be able to answer any questions that you may have.
City of Calgary, Aeration