| Aerating is
probably one of the most important, yet most neglected tasks
that is really necessary for a good looking healthy lawn.
Over time the soil and layer of thatch next to the
soil compact. The more compact the soil is the harder it
is for water and nutrients to penetrate it. Aerating is
essential to help loosen the soil so that water and
can soak in and not
just run off.
There are two key types of aerators that
can be used. The Spike aerators and the core or plug
aerators. I wonít spend too much time on the "Shoe"
aerators I have seen sold. Please donít waste your time
or money on that! The Spike aerator either has a spike
or a triangular shaped wedge that pokes a hole in the
ground. These do no help much if you have compacted
soil, as a matter of fact they probably aggravate the
problem as the act of inserting the spike further
compresses the soil around it!
Core or plug aerators actually remove a
"plug of soil. There are the best aerators, removing the
plug of soil give the compressed soil around the hole
space to expand into, decompressing the soil. There is
the added benefit that the aerator will cut through any
built up thatch, disturbing it and aiding it along in
the decomposition process. One objection to plug
aerators is the plugs of soil that they leave behind.
They are somewhat unsightly. If they are objectionable
then the recommendation is to rake them in after
aerating so that you break them up and the soil sifts it
way back to the lawn bed.
types of aerators are typically more expensive
then the spike type, but are well worth the extra
cost. The average cost of one of these is $200.00,
runs a sale on a pull behind the tractor type for $129 which is an EXCELLENT buy at
that price. Of course you also have the option of
renting a Power self propelled one at an equipment
time to aerate is in the spring for the warm season grasses and in the fall for the cool season grasses. It is
best to do your fertilizing and the additions of any
other supplements at the same time.
aerating you want to first travel in one direction, lets
say north to south. Run the aerator in parallel paths
next to each other so that you cover the entire lawn in
adjacent runs with the aerator. Next repeat the process
but in an East to West direction so that you are in
essence creating a cross-hatch pattern. Again, make sure
to cover the entire lawn in parallel paths that are
adjacent to each other.
Certain lawn types respond well to
de-tatching, typically grasses that grow in clumps and
do not spread via rhizomes can be easily dethatched
with no negative side effect. The grasses that spread by
rhizomes such asBermuda, Centipede, and Bluegrass
eventually develop an interlaced network of rhizomes
that make up the bed of the lawn, running the tines of a
pull behind de-thatcher through pulls that network apart
and typically leaves the lawn looking pretty horrific.
As a rule of thumb you should dethatch when the layer of
thatch reaches 1/2 inch in thickness. One
good way to see how much thatch has built up is to pick
up one of the plugs after core aerating and measure the
amount of thatch that is on the plug. The plug left
behind by the core aerator is a good snapshot of what
you turf looks like and an excellent way to measure how
much thatch you have.
If your lawn has reached the point
where it needs dethatching,
I would recommend that you hire
a competent yard care company that has a power
de-thatcher that will cut through the rhizomes rather then
pull through them. make sure that when you dethatch you do
so in the spring for summer grasses and in the
fall for Cold weather grasses. That is the time of year
when the grass growth is at it's highest and your lawn
will recover much quicker.
One last note on dethatching, if you
aerate regularly the tines of
the aerator will cut through the thatch, opening it up and giving
it a chance to decompose. This gives nature a chance to
solve the problem of thatch for you and increases the amount
of time between detatching.