By Paul Schnare
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Lawn aerification is a cultural practice that makes a tremendous impact on the quality of your lawn. Aeration, or aerification, is a procedure of removing cores of soil out of your lawns root and soil zone.
After your lawn has been core aerified, you will find one inch holes about three to five inches deep on three to four inch centers all over your yard accompanied by the cores of soil that came out of these holes. The cores will usually disintegrate during mowing, or after a hard rain.
There are three important reasons that you should aerify your lawn, especially if it is growing in high clay content soils. First, the holes open up pores in the soil. This allows air to penetrate into the soil. Plant roots need exposure to air, just as do plant tops.
Secondly, within a few months of aerification, the holes are usually filled with grass roots. This proliferation of roots deep into the soil results in a much better lawn. The old adage says a good turf requires even better roots.
Finally an aerified soil has a much better water holding capacity. Each hole in the lawn acts as a little reservoir to hold water after a rain. Less water will run off, and the need for additional irrigation will be reduced.
Aerification should be done when soils are moist and just before the onset of your lawns growth spurt. For the cool season lawns of bluegrass, fescue, and rye, aerate in the early fall. For the warm season lawns of zoysia and Bermuda aerate in early summer. In the event that you are planning on seeding, aerate first before seeding.
Make sure that you use a machine called a core aerifier. As discussed above this machine removes a core of soil and deposits it on top of the soil surface. Some machines called aerifies have nothing more than spikes that are forced into the ground. Continual use of this kind of machine actually compacts the soil, and causes more harm than good.
Walk behind lawn aerators can usually be found at your local equipment rental store. Occasionally they will also have pull behind models that you can use behind a lawn or agricultural tractor.