At the beginning of the Huntsville lawn mowing season, aerating your lawn can really help it by setting the foundation for strong warm weather development. An aeration treatment removes small cores of soil and thatch to allow air, moisture and nutrients to penetrate down to the root zone.
The cores brought to the surface contain microorganisms, which help the breakdown of the woody thatch tissue layer just below the lawn's crown.
As the thatch layer is broken down, it is converted into organic matter that will then combine with existing soil particles.
Also, as the cores begin to breakdown over a period of several weeks, the holes gradually fill in with a mixture of organic matter and soil, and the filled hole allows roots of existing grass plants to spread out and grow deeper, creating a healthier, thicker lawn.
As lawns age or sustain heavy use from play, sports activities, pets, vehicle traffic and parking, soil compaction can result. Soil compacting forces are most severe in poorly drained or wet sites. Compaction greatly reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Compaction reduces total pore space and the amount of air within the soil. It has a negative impact on nutrient uptake and water infiltration, in addition to being a physical barrier to root growth. This results in poor top growth and lawn deterioration. Core aeration can benefit your lawn by:
- Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose thatch.
- Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil.
- Improving rooting.
- Enhancing infiltration of rainfall or irrigation.
- Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas.
Because the aeration process is stressful on lawns, it should only be done during periods just before active growth is expected. For cool season grasses, those typically found in the northern half of the country, this would be in early spring or early fall, the 2 times of the year when cool season grasses really grow.
During the hot summer months, cool season grasses really slow down in the growing department and this is not a good time to be aerating. If you're planning on aerating in the spring and you plan on using a crabgrass control product, you'll want to aerate before the pre-emergent application is made, which is as a rule around the time when forsythias first start blooming.
For warm season grasses, the highest period of growth is when it's warmest. So aeration would be good if done in early summer.
Overseeding in cool-season areas, will fill-in bare or thin spots and help build a thicker lawn faster. The new seed quickly takes root in the freshly aerated lawn and provides new life to your already established grass. As your lawn gets thicker and healthier, your new grass plants help reduce the chance of new weeds sprouting.
If you've done a soil test and your pH levels are out of whack and you need to apply lime, do this immediately after aerating. Applying lime to the soil surface at best only modifies the top 1/2" of the top soil. Applying lime after an aeration will help amend the soil to the depth of the aeration holes.