FOR THE LOVE OF LAWN
TIPs, Tricks & Curiosities for A lovely lawn
When you think of proper maintenance, the first things that come to mind are probably seeding, fertilizing, and watering. Yet, there are two other aspects of upkeep, called aeration and dethatching, that are equally important for good lawn health. In fact, these two practices alone can transform your yard from looking mediocre to looking lush and vivacious in no time.
What is Aeration?
"Aerating" a yard means puncturing the top level of the soil with small holes. This lets air, water, and nutrients get through to the grass roots. In turn, this allows the roots to grow deeper and stronger. If your yard has mostly cool season grasses, it should be aerated in early spring or in the fall. If your lawn has warm season grasses, it should be aerated later on in spring.
Reasons to Aerate Your Lawn
The type of lawn that you have and its primary uses ultimately determine if it's a good candidate for aeration. If the soil tends to get compacted easily from frequent foot traffic, then your yard could benefit from aeration. Another reason is the age of your home. Homes that have been newly built have also generally had their yards impacted through construction work. Finally, if your yard dries out easily and it has a spongy quality, it could benefit from aeration.
This can be accomplished by using a spike aerator or a plug aerator. A spike aerator puts holes of a uniform size and shape in the ground. A plug aerator removes a circular core area of soil and grass from your yard. In order to maximize its effectiveness, lawn aeration is usually combined with a process called dethatching.
What is Dethatching?
The term “thatch” refers to clumps of grass ends that have died off and come to rest on the top layer of soil. Normally, the thatch develops slowly and is eliminated by natural cycles to keep the yard in good health. But sometimes thatch accumulates faster than it can be broken down. This prevents nutrients, light, and water from reaching the seeds and roots below. This can cause the grass in your yard to die or thin. Dethatching simply means removing the dead grass.
How to Tell if Your Yard Needs Dethatching
If you notice large clumps of compacted grass on your yard's surface, if you can't easily put a finger through to the soil, or if the yard looks dry and has a spongy feel, it's probably time for dethatching.
One method for eliminating excess thatch is a dethatching rake. A dethatching rake looks like a standard rake, but its tines are specially designed to loosen thatch from the underlying soil without causing damage. You can also use something called a dethatcher, which is essentially a power-operated version of a thatch rake.
Keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful takes a fair amount of work. If your yard is looking less than perfect, aerating and dethatching may be just what it needs. Before you start, mow the grass in your yard to about half its normal height and remove objects from the lawn. By following an aeration schedule and dethatching periodically, you're bound to see a better yard in no time!