Lawn aeration is an essential step in keeping your lawn healthy and thriving. If you have been fertilizing, mowing, and watering your lawn, but it is still dying, then it is time to aerate. When lawn aerating, it is better to hire a lawn care professional or DIY? To keep your lawn thriving, check out these must-knows about lawn aeration:
What Is Aeration?
Your soil can become compacted for several reasons. Compacted soil can become harder for water to get through to the soil, which can stunt grass growth. Aeration is perforating the soil with 1½” to 2″ plugs to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach the grassroots. This allows the roots to grow deeply and produce a healthier, more vigorous lawn.
What Are The Benefits Of Aeration?
Lawn aeration can benefit your lawn in many ways, including:
- Aeration breaks up compacted soil layers, allowing oxygen, water, and nutrients to flow through and reach the roots. A single aeration service can open up the ground for these essentials to reach the grassroots and put your lawn back on an upward trend.
- It reduces the chances of having thatch buildup.
- It will create an optimal environment for overseeding.
- Lawns struggle in stressful situations, including heat and low rainfall. Aeration can help your lawn avoid becoming thin and dying out.
How Do I Know if My Lawn Needs to Be Aerated?
Your lawn requires core aeration if:
- Your lawn experiences heavy foot traffic and is often used. Children and pets running around the yard can also contribute to soil compaction.
- Your yard dries out quickly and has a spongy feel when you walk upon it. Usually, this spongy feeling means an excessive thatch problem, and water is not spreading into the soil.
- There are puddles through-out your lawn. Pools of water are another sign that water is not draining correctly.
When and How Often Should My Lawn Be Aerated?
Aeration is recommended at least once a year. At Tee Time, we recommend aerating your lawn in the fall months paired with overseeding.
What Happens if I Never Aerate My Lawn?
Without aerating, essential nutrients like oxygen, water, and fertilizer have difficulty reaching your grassroots. Eventually, your lawn can become weak and susceptible to weeds, pests, and diseases.
Can I Aerate a Newly Sodded or Seeded Lawn?
No, it is recommended to wait at least a year before aerating new sodded or seeded lawns. Prematurely aerating the lawn will ruin the grass.
Can Aeration Damage Any Underground Pipes or Wires?
Most underground pipes and wires are buried deep enough so that pipes and wires would not get damaged. However, other hidden items, such as a sprinkler system, could be damaged since it is closer to the surface. If you are worried about damaging underground pipes or wires, use flags or other visible indicator to mark these items you want to avoid damaging during aeration.
How Long Will It Take for the Plugs on My Lawn to Break Down?
The cores produced from aeration will break down naturally and disappear into the lawn, depending on weather conditions. As the plugs dissolve, the soil microbes contained will help break down thatch. Mowing and watering your property will also help break down the cores sooner.
Lawn Aeration Guide: Lawn Maintenance After Aeration
Here are a few maintenance tips that are very important to consider after aerating your lawn:
- Continue with proper fertilization, water, and mowing.
- After aerating your lawn, leave the soil cores where they fall. These cores will break down in the rain or disintegrate the next time you mow your lawn. Once these cores break down, they add nutrients back into your soil.
- Overseeding after aerating is also beneficial to your lawn. These seedlings make better contact with the soil through the holes created by aerating. This allows your seeds to have a better chance for germination.
Lawn Aeration Guide: Can I Aerate Myself?
Yes, but here are some questions that you should consider before DIY aeration:
Do I Need Equipment to Aerate My Lawn?
There are different aerating tools that you may consider for aerating your lawn:
- Hand Aerator (Coring & Spike): This aerating tool has long spikes at the end, which you push into the soil. These spikes cause small holes when made into the surface. This tool can be quite strenuous and requires much effort from your hands to work the aerator into the soil. These aerators are not recommended to use on a large lawn because they can cause fatigue, strain, and is very time-consuming. These tools will cost anywhere from $25 to $50.
- Aerator Shoes: These shoes are worn over your regular shoes and have spikes on the bottom. The tips on the boots create holes in the lawn surface, but the points are too thin and do not puncture your lawn far enough. These boots are not the best aerating tool because they tend to push the soil to the side and down when they enter the yard, compacting the ground even more. These aerator shoes will cost anywhere from $20 to $35.
- Rolling Aerator: Similar to a lawnmower, this aerator creates holes in your yard as you push it along in rows. These aerators’ width covers a fair amount of lawn space and is small enough to maneuver around corners in your yard. Rolling aerators will range from $50 to $300.
- Tow-Behind Aerator: A towed lawn aerator is the only reasonable choice to consider if your yard is large enough to need a riding lawnmower. Tow-behind aerators will range from $150 to $800.
- Stand-On Aerator: Stand-on aerators allow benefits that you cannot get with other aeration tools, such as efficiency, speed, reduced fatigue, and consistent soil puncturing—even in hard, compacted soil. Stand-on aerators are perfect for large lawns. These tools will range from $500 to a couple of thousands of dollars, depending on your purchase model. If you do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on an aerator, there are many option aerators available to rent from any home improvement store.
What Is the Process of Aerating My Lawn On My Own?
If you believe that your lawn needs aeration, here are some lawn care tips on how to aerate your lawn on your own:
- Before getting started, make sure the soil is moist enough. Ensuring that your soil is damp will make it easier to aerate. There is nothing more frustrating than aerating a dry lawn.
- Many aeration tools cover only a small part of the soil surface. Make multiple passes over highly compacted areas (these are the areas where there is the most foot traffic).
- Aerating your lawn depends on what aerating tool you have decided to use. For example, with a spike aerator, you use the tool to poke holes into the ground. A plug aerator will remove cores or plugs of grass with soil from the lawn.
- To achieve better results, use an aerating tool that removes plugs of soil. Poking holes is less productive and can cause additional compaction in the areas around the holes. Many aerating tools and machines can be rented from home improvement stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. Renting some of these machines can become expensive.
- After aerating, continue essential lawn care practice such as proper fertilizing, mowing, and watering.
How Long Will It Take To Aerate My Lawn On My Own?
The amount of time spent on aerating your lawn will vary depending on what aeration tool you use and how big your yard is. Here are the different aerating tools and the estimated time it would take to aerate a medium-sized lawn (roughly 7,000 square feet).
- Hand aerators: Mentioned previously, hand aerators can be quite strenuous and requires much effort from your hands to work the aerator into the soil. Using a hand aerator on your whole lawn can take a lot of time out of your day to complete correctly.
- Aerator Shoes: The amount of time it will take to aerate your lawn depends on how long it will take you to walk your entire property. Highly traffic areas will need to be walked over multiple times. Aerator shoes only penetrate the soil so much. If you are using this aeration method, it is recommended to aerate more often than the other methods. Like using a hand aerator on your whole lawn, aerator shoes can also take a lot of time out of your day to complete correctly.
- Rolling Aerator: Rolling aerators should take about 30 minutes to 1 hour to aerate a lawn.
- Tow-Behind Aerator: Tow-behind aerators should take about 20 to 30 minutes to aerate a lawn.
- Stand-On Aerator: Electric aerators should take about 15 to 30 minutes to aerate a lawn.
Lawn Aeration Guide: Typical Scenario of DIY Aeration
Aerating a lawn can be very time-consuming and pricey. We put together a typical scenario for the DIY homeowner who rents an aerator:
- If you have a trailer, hook it up to your car. If you do not have a trailer, you might need to borrow or rent one, resulting in renting fees.
- Drive to a home improvement retailer from your home, resulting in losing gas and mileage.
- Paying for your aerator’s rental fee, deposit, and damage insurance
- Load the aerator onto the trailer and drive back home, resulting in losing more gas and milage
- Unload the aerator and begin aerating your yard.
- Depending on where you rented the aerator, you might have to clean out each tine (the part of the aerator that pulls out the soil plugs) when you are done so you can avoid the cleaning fee.
- Load the aerator back onto the trailer.
- Drive to the store again to return the aerator, resulting in more gas and mileage loss.
Lawn Aeration Guide: Setbacks of DIY Aeration
A lawn that is adequately aerated will help to make your property look healthy and green. Homeowners who try to aerate themselves usually have problems that they do not know how to resolve. If you experience poor results, you will probably try another DIY lawn project to see if it helps or call a lawn service company, which means you have just paid twice.
Lawn Aeration Guide: Lawn Care Professional Or DIY Aeration
Knowing the ins and outs of aerations will help you achieve the full, healthy lawn you desire. A professional lawn care company will know the right equipment, the best way to aerate your lawn and understand your unique property’s needs. Our team at Tee Time Lawn Care is here to get the job done right and prepare your turf for healthy and vibrant growth. Give us a call or fill out the nearby form for a quote.