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Aerating Your Lawn

What It Is, Why It Matters & When to Do It

We can probably all agree that a lush, green lawn is an attractive feature of any home. Beyond appealing to the eye, it can also be luxurious to walk, sit and play on.

While having such a lawn is desirable, achieving it takes more than simply watering it. A healthy lawn in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield and Lemont (IL) is the result of homeowner thorough planning and care.

Good lawn maintenance includes mowing, fertilizing, raking and of course watering. Another vital factor to keep in mind is core aeration.

Core aeration is a type of aeration for lawns in which a machine with hollow tines (a lawn aerator) or a push aerator on rolling wheels removes plugs or “cores” of soil and thatch from the lawn. Some people might also use a pitchfork to spike holes into the soil, but core aeration with an appropriate machine is far superior since pitchforks or spike holes can contribute to more soil compaction.

Aerating reduces your lawn’s soil compaction, which can often include too many solid particles in limited volumes or spaces. This impedes the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients into and beneath the soil. Soil compaction also encourages the growth of moss plants on the lawn because of poor drainage.

Aeration cores create channels through which oxygen, water and nutrients can pass to nourish the soil. Without aeration cores, built-up grass, lawn thatch and other debris can form a layer that stops soil from receiving what it needs for healthy roots and turf. This is when you start to see patches, thinning and dead spots on the lawn.

Beyond the pathways created for oxygen, water and nutrients, the cores that are ejected during aeration leave soil plugs on the lawn surface. Microbes in the soil then further help break down the thatch layer while also feeding more nutrients back to the roots.

Reducing soil density, providing thatch management and creating greater circulation are but a few of aeration’s primary benefits. Aerating a lawn further helps to:

benefit pH modification when you apply lime (to raise pH) or sulphur (to lower the pH) after aeration to assist the change of ph deeper in the soil to within the ideal range of 6.5-7.0.

reduce water runoff and puddling by supporting better drainage

Because it has access to the vital components to thrive, grass is better equipped to protect itself. The lawn health achieved by core aeration contributes to prevention of weeds, lawn diseases and insect infestations.

Aerate in Fall

Fall is ideal for aerating in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield and Lemont because summer’s activity will have likely compacted the soil and damaged some of the lawn due to traffic and weight from feet and the lawnmower. Summer rainfall adds to compaction as well.

Aerating in fall helps the lawn heal and fill in any open areas by breaking up compaction and opening air and nutrient pockets when the soil is warm and the weather is cooler (45°–75°F) and more moist (as opposed to summer’s hot and arid conditions).

The fall setting also favors the germination of new seedlings. Some studies suggest that more than 70% of all root growth occurs during the season. Aeration in fall allows the seed-to-soil contact and storing of nutrient reserves for a thick, healthy lawn. It will have what it needs to make it through winter, and when spring returns, it will be ready to revitalize rather than return as weak and brown grass.

Lawns that see a great deal of use and foot traffic may require twice-per-year aeration, once in spring and once in fall, to keep them healthy and beautiful. However, the opposite is also true. If your lawn is thick, green and beautiful with light foot traffic, aerating every couple of years may be the best option.

How to Aerate Your Lawn

When you’re preparing to aerate your lawn in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield or Lemont, you’ll want to make sure you have a lawn aerator that removes soil plugs approximately 2″–3″ deep, 0.5″–0.75″ in diameter and 2″–3″ apart. Tim Wallace Landscape Supply offers lawn aerator rental with both daily and four-hour/overnight rates.

The day before you aerate, mow your lawn low. We recommend setting your mower to about 1.5″-2″ above the ground to maximize the effectiveness of aerating, being sure to not scalp the crown of the grass.

Also, the day before you get started, ensure the soil is properly moist: Trying to aerate a dry lawn will create difficulties. Aerating the day after a good rain or watering your lawn the day before you aerate are both good ideas. Be sure to find and mark any sprinkler heads or valves, pop-up drain spouts, shallow-depth utility lines or invisible fences that could be damaged by the aeration process.

Most lawn aerators will cover a small percentage of soil surface with each pass, so go over heavily compacted areas with the aerator several times. After the plugs are extracted, let them dry and then break them up with a lawnmower, a shovel blade or the back of a rake. This will give your lawn a consistent, clean appearance.

From there, continue with your supporting lawn maintenance such as topdressing, over-seeding, fertilizing and watering.

Leaders in Core Aeration Rental: Contact Us Today

Our lawn and landscape experts are always here to support you with the knowledge, ideas, materials and equipment for achieving a thick, green, healthy lawn. To further discuss core aeration including core aeration rental for your home in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield or Lemont (IL), just give us a call at (630) 759-5552!

Based in Bolingbrook IL, Tim Wallace Landscape Supply serves homeowners throughout the area, including Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Westmont, Naperville, Woodridge and Wheaton.