Aerating is the process of inserting holes in your lawn for better water absorption, nutrient absorption, root development, and helping the process of eliminating thatch. The problem starts when the top four inches of soil becomes extremely hard and compact. Like when you stuff a bag to make more room.
Eventually you run out of room and there is no place else for the trash to go. Well this is working on the same concept of compaction. The water and nutrients can not penetrate the soil. The thatch from lawn mowing, instead of being decomposed and returned to the earth will just sit there inviting molds, mildews, disease and unwanted insects.
Aerating also enhances oxygen levels to your soil thus stimulating root growth and speeding up the decomposition of the thatch decomposing organisms. In removing the plugs of soil from your lawn this process severs roots, rhizomes and stolons. The affects of this stimulate your grass to produce new shoots and roots that will fill in the holes and increase the density of your lawn. It also increases your lawns drought tolerance and you should be able to see an overall improvement in your lawns health.
The type of grass you have will pretty much dictate when to aerate and how deep to make your holes. We recommend at least one aeration in the Sping or Fall. When you aerate in the Spring, you should combine it with over-seeding as the ground is opened up and it is the perfect time to over-seed. Also the cooler temperatures and significant precipitation will seed up the germination of the grass seed.
When aerating your lawn, it is best to aerate on a day where the temperatures are milder and the soil in a moist condition, which will make the aerating process much easier. Aerating too wet soil can be a real nuisance due to the fact that the plugs will get stuck in the hollow tines and can further compact you soil.
How often should I aerate my lawn? There is no real determination time for this question. The best way to find out if your lawn needs to be aerated is to do a small test of your soil. A very simple way to make that determination is to take a screwdriver and insert it into the soil. If insertion is fairly easy your soil should be just fine. If insertion is difficult, it is probably time to aerate. Aeration is not something that you can over aerate and a good rule of thumb is once every year combined with over-seeding is best practice lawn maintenance.
Why not buy wear my golf spikes around the lawn or get a spike to aerate?
Well Golf shoes or spikes only force the soil particles around the hole closer together causing more compaction. It will kind of work, but you will not get the desired affect you are hoping to achieve. They do not turn the soil over as they do not pull a plug out and allow it to decompose thereby cycling the micro nutrients and microorganisms through the cored surface.
I hate those unsightly plugs on my lawn? Why not rake them up ?
Rain and traffic will eventually break the up the plugs. The plugs are actually very beneficial as they contain microorganisms that help to decompose any layers of thatch that are present.