You don’t need to be a gardening expert to know that aerating your lawn is important. And because there are many different ways to aerate your lawn, you don’t need to be an expert to perform this important task either. There are many approachable, DIY methods for people of any skill level.
The Best Method
There is a bit more to aerating the lawn than just punching holes into the ground. There’s a right way to aerate your lawn, and there is definitely a wrong way. Let’s start with the right way: actually removing the soil cores when punching holes into your lawn is the best method. If you just punch the holes but do not remove the soil core, then you will just be compacting soil that is already compacted. Removing the punched out soil will actually allow air to reach into the soil.
Find Your Tools
There are a few different options for tools, either motorized or manual. For small lawns, a manual aerator works best and will produce better results than a motorized aerating tool. You can find tools like this at your local gardening or home improvement store, which usually require foot-power to punch holes in the ground and extract the soil cores. There are spikes that you put on your shoes so that all you have to do is simply walk around your yard. However, those do not remove the soil core.
You can use an automated aerator for bigger areas. They have a circle shaped drum in the front or back that is filled with hollow spikes or cylinders. You can either buy or rent these machines, although renting might be the smarter option. Remember, this is a huge, heavy piece of equipment. When picking it up, bring at least 2 people and have a full, empty truck bed to load it on. You can even consider partnering with neighbors to all chip in for renting one. And make sure to make you reservation early if renting during the busier times – spring and fall weekends.
You can also find an ionized soil conditioner at your local gardening or hardware store to help aerate your lawn. This solution is used on your lawn to help break up the clay and soil particles and helps microorganisms grow to foster healthy soil and digest waste.
If doing it yourself is not something you want to manage, you can always hire a local lawn service to do the job for you.
• Go around your lawn and note any places that have sprinklers, shallow irrigation lines, septic lines and buried utilities. Mark them with a flag so that you don’t aerate in that area.
• Leave the soil cores in place after you aerate to decompose. These contain valuable microorganisms to help digest lawn thatch. To help break them up, you can mow over them or lightly rake them.
• After aerating, water your lawn a few extra times. This is especially important when it’s hot or dry outside.
• If the soil is lightly compacted, you probably only need to aerate one time over, following the usual mowing pattern.
• If the soil is very compacted or hasn’t been aerated in the last year, aerate twice, once in the direction of your mowing pattern and again at an angle to the first. You want to aim for 20 to 40 holes per square foot.
• Immediately following aerating, you can fertilize and seed your lawn. for soil that was heavily compacted, consider using a layer of compost that is a quarter inch thick.
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