Many customers wonder when the best time to aerate their lawn is. While aeration for a healthy lawn can be beneficial to maintaining the health of the grass, it is important to note that the largest benefit can come from aerating when the following issues arise:
Is there a large amount of traffic occurring in an area? Traffic from heavy lawn equipment, adults, children, pets, can all compact the soil. Aeration allows the turf to be better suited for a lot of coming and going.
Are you noticing pooling of water in certain areas of your lawn? Gravity obviously forces water to lower areas of your lawn, so if you notice excessive collecting of water in certain areas, it may be time to aerate. This will allow for better drainage in lower elevation areas.
Do you have excess thatch in your lawn? This could be due to poor aeration. Often times we will remove the top of a small section in your lawn and note the amount of thatch accumulated in the grass. Is the thatch from ¼ inch to ¾ inch thick? It’s most likely time to aerate.
Are there areas of your lawn that don’t seem to grow as well? This could be due to poor aeration. Uneven growth could be due to the soil lacking nutrients and water that it needs due to the soil being overly compact. If you are seeing less growth in areas of your grass, it could be time for aeration.
Aerating usually is done in the spring time in West Texas. You want to do this because we try to catch a time of year that has good grass growth and moderate temperatures. Aeration when the weather is too hot could expose your soil to drying out and further damage the root system of your lawn. Also, aerating in while there is the most grass growth is ideal for filling the holes with more grass quickly.
Unless your lawn is experiencing any of the issues listed above, lawns in Midland / Odessa generally only need to aerated once a year to every other year. Due to the sandy nature of our soil, compaction is generally not an issue.
If you are going to aerate your lawn, be sure to do this while the soil is damp. Generally, before moisture has evaporated is ideal because you want to penetrate deep in the soil and not have the sun overly dry out your lawns root system.
For most purposes, there are two types of aerators: spiked aerators and core aerators. Spiked aerators are generally done with a handed spiked tool or shoe aerators. While this method is better than nothing it doesn’t do the job as well as a core aerator. Spikes will penetrate the turf and break up some compaction in your grass. It will also allow water to penetrate deeper into your soil.
Core aeration is always a better option though. This removes 3-inch holes spread apart about every 3 inches or so. After the plugs are removed, it’s always a good idea to add top soil to add nutrients to your lawn. You can rent gas powered core aerators from a local hardware or lawn and garden center.