Have you been doing the same old lawn care routine every year without seeing any results? You’ve been watering well, mowing regularly, maybe even seeding in the spring, but your lawn isn’t getting any thicker or greener? If you’re looking for another lawn care tactic to take your lackluster lawn to the next level, consider adding a lawn aeration service to your regular maintenance routine.
Even if you’re a self-proclaimed lawn care expert, you might have never availed yourself of a lawn aeration service, thinking that it’s an extra that’s not worth all the money, time, and effort. We’re here to convince you that adding a lawn aeration service to your existing maintenance plan is absolutely critical to the health of your yard.
Never heard of aeration? That’s okay, a lot of people haven’t. We’ll start with a basic definition of what a lawn aeration service does to your yard and how your grass will benefit from the process. Then, we’ll take you through the more intricate ins and outs of lawn aeration services, and we’ll talk a little bit about how they pair with other lawn services, like seeding. By the end, you should be fully prepared to get your yard in tip-top shape with a lawn aeration service. Let’s jump right in.
Lawn Aeration Service: The Basics
It’s a good idea to define our core terms here before we get in any deeper. Lawn aeration is a process in which you punch holes in the ground. That’s it. It sounds awfully simple when we put it that way, but there’s actually a lot more complex science and technique that goes into any lawn aeration service.
Aeration is good for your soil because it gives it some room to breathe. Soil can get compacted, especially if it’s in a high-traffic area. It’s harder for grass roots to get an adequate amount of oxygen when the soil is compacted. If your grass doesn’t get enough nutrients, it’s not going to thrive. That can mean yellowing and thinning and eventually death of grass. Obviously you’re going to want to get ahead of any detrimental effects to your lawn before things escalate to that level, and that’s why regular aeration is an important lawn care step.
You might not think your soil sees enough activity to get too compacted, but even just the dogs running around on it and everyday uses like entertaining can cause detrimental compaction. To find out, you can stick a screwdriver into the ground. If it slides in without issue, your soil doesn’t need lawn aeration services. If, on the other hand, you feel a lot of resistance and have trouble with the screwdriver test, then you need to look into aeration to break up that compacted soil.
Lawn Aeration Service: The Timing
You have to aerate your lawn at the right time of year for it to be most effective. Like we already said, you can test your soil to see if it’s necessary, but then you need to be strategic about when you start aerating the lawn.
You’ll likely only need to aerate your lawn once a year. The ideal time for that annual lawn aeration service will depend on what type of grass you’ve got and what the weather conditions are like where you live. You can check into which variety of grass is in your yard before deciding on a time for aerating your lawn, but if you’re going with a professional lawn aeration service, then they’re going to be able to schedule your aeration for the optimal time.
That’ll be in the early spring or fall for cool-season grasses, and for warm-season grasses you see more often in the south, that’ll be in the late spring or early summer. So, you might only have a small window where you can get aeration in before it will stress the grass too much, which means you need to be on top of things. You definitely don’t want to wait until your lawn goes dormant for the winter.
The other aspect of the timing of a lawn aeration service is the frequency. You might not need to have your lawn aerated every year — as long as you’re seeing the results you want in your yard, you might only need to aerate once every three years.
When to Hire a Lawn Aeration Service and When to Do It Yourself
This will likely depend heavily on how comfortable you are with DIY yard projects. If you’re well-versed in seeding, mowing, and irrigation, then it’s probably not too much of a stretch for you to do your own lawn aeration service, as well. However, if you’re not one to get out and get your hands dirty, then you’re probably going to want to hire a professional lawn aeration service for your yard.
So, if you want to do it yourself, you’re going to have to have the right equipment. That’s one tally mark in favor of the professionals — they’ll already have all the right tools, since it’s literally their job. If you’d rather go out and get the equipment yourself, though, you have a few options. One is spike aerators. These are pretty beginner-friendly — you can even get them on “sandals” so you can just walk around and puncture your lawn. Although this is probably your most accessible option, it’s also not the most ideal. It’s best suited to a small area, and spike machines that cover more ground can sometimes make the compaction worse. This is because they can press soil together around the holes.
If a spike aerator doesn’t float your boat, then consider slicing aerators. They’ve got blades that rotate, cutting through the ground. However, they do have a similar problem to spike aerators in that they leave the leftover soil in the ground.
That’s where core or plug aerators come in. They physically take little “plugs” of soil out of the ground, making more room for the soil to breathe. Core aerators are definitely the method most professionals opt for, and they’re most likely to get you the best result.
Other Lawn Care Services that Supplement Aeration
Aerating your lawn is definitely not the only thing you want to be doing to take care of it. If you’re really set on having lush, vibrant green grass, then you’re going to have to care for all sorts of different elements of the lawn’s health. Let’s look at some of the basics.
Everybody knows to water their lawns. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that plants need water to grow. What you do need to keep in mind, though, is that soil that’s too wet or too dry can be difficult to aerate. It’s usually best to water the day before you’re planning on aerating the lawn. That way, the soil is more likely to contain the right level of moisture to make the aeration process as smooth as possible.
As far as regular watering tips go, you want to be watering for a longer period of time less frequently. That way, the water can seep all the way down into the roots of the grass. Building a strong root system is going to ensure the health and durability of your grass.
Unlike watering, seeding is a big project you only take on occasionally. If you have an area that’s looking pretty bare and you’re not prepared to roll out a carpet of sod, seeding is really your only option to get grass to grow.
Seeding can pair really well with aeration. After you’ve poked those helpful holes in your soil, it’s in a great state for overseeding. You can also aerate soil that doesn’t already have grass growing in it if you’re trying to start seeding for the first time.
Once you loosen up the top part of the soil and buy your grass seed, you’re ready for seeding. Spread the grass seed evenly — some people tackle their large seeding projects with a spreader or a mechanical seeder, and other people with smaller seeding areas do it by hand. After you spread the grass seed, then you’re going to want to cover it. You’ll also need to fertilize the area. Then, for a while after your initial seeding, you’ll need to lightly water the area every day. It’s a big process, but seeding is a great way to supplement the health of your lawn after you aerate it.
This is one that most people try to do by themselves, but did you know there’s a right and a wrong way to mow the lawn?
If you know what kind of grass is in your yard, you can look up its optimal height and how much you can take off in a single clipping. The general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to cut off more than one third of the grass’s total height. If your grass gets too short, it can become stressed. That’s no good if your goal is a totally healthy lawn.
Mowing is also a lawn service that’s done a lot more frequently than some of the others we’ve listed here, at least during the growing season. You’re probably not going to undertake a seeding project more than once a year, but you’ve got to get the grass cut once a week all summer long. If you’re worried that frequent mowing might mess up your lawn aeration service, you can breathe a sight of relief — mowing and aerating are unlikely to conflict with each other. In fact, if you wait to mow until after your lawn aeration service, then you can break up the leftover soil plugs. That’ll be highly beneficial to your lawn, letting those extra nutrients get reabsorbed.
A service that is often paired with aerating, dethatching can make a huge difference in the health of your lawn. It’s like seeding in that it’s a big project you don’t take on all the time, but it’s totally worth it if you need it.
To understand why dethatching is a good idea, though, we first have to know what thatch is. It’s all the organic material that builds up on top of the soil. We’re talking dead grass, leaves, weeds, etc. Some organic material is a good thing, but too much of it will suffocate your soil, leaving it unable to absorb enough air and water to sustain your grass. So, when there’s too much of it, you need to get rid of it. That process is called dethatching.
You can hire professionals to come out and dethatch your lawn for you, or you can attempt to do it on your own. If you’re only trying to get rid of a little thatch buildup, then you can use a regular old rake you use to make leaf piles in the fall. There are also special dethatching rakes if your yard calls for more heavy-duty equipment. Dethatching machines are out there for the professionals to use on the worst cases. Pairing a dethatching process with your aeration efforts can be a great strategy for your lawn, no matter what instrument you use.
Now you’re ready to aerate your lawn.
There are a lot of different services that can take your yard from a lackluster expanse of grass to a thriving green machine. We briefly touched on a few — watering, seeding, mowing, and dethatching, to be specific. But our main focus here was on lawn aeration services.
Now that you’ve made it to the end, you’ve got a much better idea of what aeration is and how it can benefit your lawn. You’re also better equipped to start that aeration process. You can plan what time of year is best for your yard, and then go about gathering the right equipment or hiring the right company to get it done for you. Plus, you won’t forget about the other services we listed that can enhance your lawn’s health and appearance. Adding together all those different things is going to bring you the best results. Good luck!