Aerating allows water and nutrition to more easily reach the roots of the turf. Just as important, it loosens soil tension allowing the grass to more easily spread and grow. Think of it as loosening your belt after a large Thanksgiving meal; although you may not look better, you sure feel better. Your lawn, however, will look a lot better and be healthier as a result of regular aeration.
Lawns, especially here in the Atlanta area, should be aerated at least once a year because our clay soil is so easily compacted, denying the roots from spreading and receiving nutrients. The only exception would be if you have just planted/sodded your lawn. In that case, you should wait until the lawn is firmly established.
Timing is important. The most common grasses for us in North Atlanta are Bermuda, Zoysia and Fescue.
Bermuda and Zoysia are warm season grasses, and actively grow in the summer. While early summer is usually the best time to aerate warm season grass, you can do it right before green-up; early April for Atlanta area residents.
Fescue is a cool season grass and actively grows in the fall; it is basically dormant during the hot temperatures of summer. You should wait until the fall to aerate your fescue, and over-seed at the same time. Unlike bermuda, fescue will not spread on its own, so over-seeding is important.
You also want to make sure that weeds are controlled before you aerate, as you don’t want to spread weed seeds. Aerating before you reseed or fertilize your lawn will help to ensure that the seed/fertilizer will penetrate the soil.
If your soil is hard, you may want to water the lawn to make it easier and more effective prior to aerating, just make sure that the soil is not too wet to make aerating ineffective. The best type of aerator to use is one that pulls “plugs” of dirt out instead of just poking slices or holes in the dirt.
For aesthetics, the secret is to aerate right before mowing so the yard doesn’t look as ragged and torn. You can leave the plugs on the lawn and let them “melt”, or you can be really on the ball and drag around a piece carpet or fencing afterwards to break them apart.
If you would like a quote on a maintaining your landscape, or just assistance with a single issue, SEL can help We can make the recommendations and do the work to ensure that your lawn and property look their best – winter, spring, summer and fall.
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