Lawn aeration removes small cores, or plugs, of soil from your lawn and breaks up thatching. The resulting holes and exposed surface allow air, water, and fertilizer to penetrate deep into the lawn, maximizing its health and strength.
When should I aerate my lawn?
Aerating lawns is usually done once a year, but also depends on the type of soil you have. Clay soil compacts easily, so may need to be aerated twice a year. Sandy soil, which doesn't compact as easily as clay, needs to be aerated only once a year. Timing your lawn aeration depends on the type of grass you have. A lawn of cool season grasses, such as Fescue or Bluegrass, is best aerated in the fall when the grasses are in full growth. Warm season grasses like Bermuda or Zoysia should be aerated in their rapid growth phase during the spring and early summer. Avoid aerating during weed season - this can spread weeds to the rest of your lawn.
How do I aerate my lawn?
If the area you plan to aerate is small, consider a manual aerator. Designed like a shovel, it typically has four hollow cylinders or tines attached to the bottom of a foot plate. It is used by pressing the tines into the soil using foot power, which extracts small plugs of soil. This method is slow, and can be strenuous. A manual aerator is recommended for small patches, or getting into corners and smaller areas of a larger lawn.
Aerating larger lawns requires a power aerator. Small power aerators are available for rent at local garden centers or tool/equipment rental outlets. They are heavy, and require two people to move one, so make sure you bring a friend! These aerators work much like a tilling machine, pushing the cylinders into the soil and extracting small plugs. If you already have a tilling machine, an aerating attachment might be your best option.
Another alternative is a large power aerator. These aerators do a much better job of extracting plugs from the lawn surface, but are very large and heavy, requiring a number of people to move them. An easier option if you choose this route is to have a professional landscaping or lawn-care company provide the service for you.
Do you have any other tips on aerating my lawn?
Lawn aeration works best when the soil is moist, so if it hasn't rained much lately, water your lawn a day or two before aerating. Don't overwater - soil that is too moist will plug the aerator cylinders, and further compact the lawn.
Map out any below ground sprinkler heads or shallow cables, etc., to ensure you don't run over them with the aerator.
Make at least two passes in different directions over the lawn to ensure even aeration coverage.
Lawn aeration produces cores or plugs that lay on the surface of your lawn. The most effective treatment is to rake them back into your lawn, breaking them up with the rake. The plugs will disintegrate with rain and/or watering. If they are too unsightly, they can also be removed by raking them off the lawn.
A perfect time to fertilize is right after aerating your lawn. The additional surface and depth exposure makes it easier for nutrients to reach roots for maximum absorption.
Pay attention to moisture levels in your lawn for the next few weeks after aeration. Increased soil exposure allows moisture to evaporate more quickly, so you'll need to water more often during dry periods.
Aeration improves the health of your lawn and encourages growth. A vigorous, healthy lawn resists weeds and diseases, and a strong root system aids survival during high heat seasons. Regular aeration of your lawn ensures many seasons of outdoor enjoyment.
Contact your local garden center for more information on aerating your lawn, and recommendations for professional aeration services.
Laying sod can be an easy way of getting a green, lush lawn in a hurry. Although reseeding is cheaper, sod often produces superior results. Because of the additional cost, make sure to take the time to lay it properly.
This job requires little skill, but a lot of work. Consider asking friends to help with this project, you may not be able to complete this project over the course of a day by yourself. Working in the morning, when it is cooler, is also recommended.
If possible, begin the day before by preparing the area. Get rid of any obstructions in the yard and decide how much sod you will require. Find out if you will have to haul it yourself or if it can be delivered and plan accordingly. Ideally you will prepare the area in the afternoon and lay the grass the following morning.
Remove all existing lawn and any shrubbery or other vegetation you do not want to keep. A rotor tiller is an valuable tool for the job, and can be rented from any home improvement center. Pick out all weeds and large rocks and dispose of them. Be sure to make the area as level as possible and avoid compaction after it has been tilled.
After the area has been prepped, add rich top soil for the grass. The amount of top soil required will depend on the area covered, as well as the overall quality of your soil. If you had chronic problems with your lawn try testing the soil before laying it. You may have a problem that needs to be corrected before planting again. Till the top soil into the ground.
With the top soil incorporated, use a rake to make the area as smooth as possible. Now is also the time to remove any remaining vegetation or rocks before laying your sod.
The day you want to lay the grass, saturate the ground with water thoroughly. The sod should come in flats. It might come in patches or rolls, depending on the type available. Rolls are the easiest to work with, but can be more expensive.
Start laying sod by working from one side of your lawn to the other. Make sure that when you lay it there are no gaps and each roll is flush with the one beside it. Some barriers, like walkways, might require the sod to be cut. Use a sharp utility knife to trim the sod as closely as possible. Save the trimmings for small areas as needed.
After the sod has been installed follow the instructions you received at your garden center for its care. At minimum, your new lawn will require regular watering every night for the first two weeks. Dryer climates or less hardy forms of grass might require even more watering.
Adding sod to your backyard can give you the lawn of your dreams in an afternoon. Ask for help from friends and offer drinks and food and you could have this project done in a single afternoon. Don't put off this project until the heat of summer, not only will you have better results in the spring, but you can take advantage of your new lawn with many summer barbecues.