How to Aerate Your Lawn for Better Growth
Every year I see so many people in their yards spreading fertilizer, pulling weeds, and planting grass seed only to be disappointed with their results. Fertilizing and seeding alone will not give you the lawn of your dreams. Other tasks such as aerating, dethatching, cutting your lawn at different heights (depending on the time of year) and lawn cutting patterns are just as important as other basic lawn care tasks.
Aerating your lawn will boost your lawns performance when fertilizing and seeding your lawn by allowing the fertilizer and seed to reach deeper in the soil instead of lying on top of the soil. As the fertilizer and seed reaches deeper in the soil it promotes a healthier root system resulting in a thicker, deeper, green lawn which helps keeps weeds and other lawn damaging growth like crabgrass and clover out of your lawn.
There are two common aerating systems to use for your lawn. The first is the plug aerator which punches holes in your yard (generally 1 to 3 inches long and a ¼ to ¾ inch diameter). This type of aerating system works best for lawns with high traffic, compacted clay like soil, and lawns destroyed by drought. The second aerating system is the spike aerator, which come in many shapes and sizes. This aerator is good for lawns that are softer and instead of creating holes in the lawn it creates grooves making it cleaner than the plug aerator. However, one common criterion for each system is they each need weight to push the teeth into the ground.
How to Use a Spike Aerator for Better Lawn Growth
Step 1: Choose the right size and shape of spike aerator. This aerator is a good size for a lawn around ½ acre. With enough weight placed on top of the aerator and medium soft soil it will go between 2 ½ and three inches into the ground.
Step 2: Connect the spike aerator to the lawn mower. Some aerators are self powered and other aerators are manual. If you have the luxury of having a riding lawn mower then this spike aerator works great.
Step 3: Add weight to the spike aerator. Most aerators, but not all, are built to handle the weight and size of standard concrete blocks (8x8x16, 40 pound). This example uses two concrete blocks for a total weight of 80 pounds. I tried to use more than the 80 pounds of weight and the frame started to warp on the aerator.
Step 4: Test a small patch of your lawn before using the aerator with weight on the main part of your lawn. Doing this test will allow you to determine if the lawn is too wet or too dry or if the correct amount of weight is used. Your path should look close to the example given in this article.
Step 5: Aerate several times a year. I like to aerate 3 times a year. Once at the beginning of the growing season before I put down turf builder with crabgrass control, second during the middle of the season as I spread fungus control or drought control and third when I put down winterizer.
NOTE: My favorite time to aerate for these three periods is the day after it rains. I find with 80 pounds of weight this spike aerator digs deep enough in the ground for seeding and fertilizing.
Don’t waste your money and time by just putting down fertilizer and seed. A small investment in an aerator and even a dethatching system will go a long way.
What are some of your favorite techniques you use for your lawn?