What you need to know about aeration

June 26, 2019 -  By
Photo: Billy Goat

SHORT WINDOW
Performing aeration is often most effective a few days after rainfall.
Photo: Billy Goat

It’s been a cool, wet spring in many parts of the country, which makes doing lawn care difficult. The upside? It has expanded the window for aeration.

“Because the process of aeration describes the loosening of tightly compacted soil, aerating a lawn is easiest a couple days following a rainfall,” says Jeff Fesko, agronomics category manager for SiteOne Landscape Supply. “This allows the aerator to effectively enter the soil with minimal operator effort.”

You can’t aerate when it’s too wet or pouring down rain, though, says Rich Clark, national account manager at Billy Goat. So, the damp weather has been good, but only if you can work within those sweet spots.

There are several types of aeration, which all deliver positive results to turf, Fesko says.

These include:

  • Core aeration: A small, hollow cylinder removes a plug from the soil. The plugs naturally break down, providing nutrients and soil back to the turf.
  • Spike or tine aeration: An aerator is equipped with tines or knives. The sharp blades rapidly puncture tiny holes into the lawn, allowing air and nutrients to enter.
  • Slicing: Rotating blades cut slits into a lawn, allowing air and nutrients to enter the soil.

Aeration isn’t always a beneficial practice, says Scott Kinkead, vice president of Turfco. There are few instances in which a lawn wouldn’t benefit from aeration.

“If you have a newly sodded turf or brand-new sodded lawn, aeration is not the thing you want to do until that’s been fully rooted in,” he says.

Different types of grasses should be aerated at different times of the year. According to Clark, warm-season turfgrasses should generally be aerated when they’re out of dormancy. Fesko says the best time is late spring or early summer.

Cool-season turfgrasses respond best to fall aeration. It’s when they are growing vigorously and can recover quicker. Aerating in the spring allows nutrient benefits of fertilization and overseeding to reach grass roots. It also allows water to more easily penetrate the soil, providing healthy moisture before the summer heat sets in, Fesko adds.

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