Thanks for checking back in! Lundholm Landscaping, the premier landscaping firm serving the Cape May, Avalon and Stone Harbor areas pride ourselves on providing interested homeowners with all the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their lawn and landscape. If you have not read Tip 1 on thatching, it’s not the end of the world. Although these tips are not tied together, they are all important in creating and maintaining a Perfect Lawn.
Here’s Tip Number 2.
Core Aeration. The process by with soil is displaced so that air, water and nutrients reach the root system and soil. The simplest way to displace soil in the aeration process is by using a Gas Powered core aerator.
As you can see in the photo above, this machine cuts into your soil and pulls 3 inch x 3/4 plugs out of the ground. These machines are designed and engineered to cut precisely into your lawns root zone so that the desired air, water and nutrients reach where they are needed most… the root zone.
Although getting air, water and nutrients into the root zone of your lawn is important, there are several added benefits to aerating. Over time, grass roots become extremely thick and intertwined and actually form a sub-surface layer of thatch. This layer can be so thick and tangled that it holds water and creates a breeding ground for fungi. Further, as this layer holds water, it causes soil beneath the matted root zone to become compacted. As the diagram illustrates above, aeration allows and promotes a deeper, healthier root zone. A deep, healthy root zone allows lawns to survive drought conditions, tolerate high levels of traffic and use significantly less water.
While aerating is always beneficial and should be done in both spring and fall, it provides the opportunity to correct soil problems or conditions. I always recommend adding a 1/4″ to 1/2″ layer of compost immediately following aerating. Compost adds organic materials and beneficial bacteria back into the soil. As you will read in the next few tips, I am promoting healthy lawns through an organic, holistic approach with Aerating being a key player in the entire process. If your lawn has heavily compacted or clay soil, add a top dressing of sand. Any grade of sand will do but I like to use Mason’s Sand or Plaster Sand because of it’s fine particles that seem to be more effective in breaking up clay and compacted soils. Be prepared for your lawn to look like a battle zone for a week to ten days but the benefits far outweigh the aesthetics in the long run.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend aerating in the early Spring just as grass is beginning to wake up and in the early fall. If you are able to Thatch your lawn(See Tip 1) just prior to aerating, it improves the benefits of the aerating process significantly. Here are a few final tips.
-Cut grass using your lawn mower’s lowest possible setting. Make sure all grass clippings, leaves and debris are cleaned up and out of the way.
-Leave the aeration plugs lay on the lawn. The plugs will wash away, break down and get ground up by the lawn mower as they work their way back into the soil is a week or two.
-After thatching and aerating is an optimal time to plant a new lawn, renovate an existing lawn or fill in any bare spots.
-Core aerating machines can be rented at a reputable Tool Rental Center for anywhere from $50 to $100. These machines are bulky and sometimes difficult to control. Make sure whoever is using the machine is capable of handling this type of machinery as serious injuries my result from improper use.
-If you would rather do the aeration process by hand, there are several hand tools available. I am familiar with a hand core aerator, a push style aerator and aerators that will attach to a lawn tractor. At a recent landscaping show, I noticed a sandal style shoe that had 3 inch cleats. Wear these sandals while cutting your lawn and aerate on a weekly basis.
Those are the basics for Aerating. Keep in mind that aerating and the work described above is extremely labor intensive. Schedule plenty of time and make sure you are physically fit to do hard labor. If you would like a free estimate, feel free to contact me in any of the following ways….
Rob Lundholm, Lundholm Landscaping
See you out there!