Aerate lawn before and after is a question we get a lot from worried lawn owners all over the US. Soil aeration is very important, especially for lawns with great foot traffic.
You can easily aerate your lawn and get the instantly fresh grass you have always dreamt of.
Read this guide to learn everything you need to know before carrying out this endeavor to avoid making any mistakes that first-time aerators usually make.
- Is It a Good Idea To Aerate Lawn Before and After?
- What Are Some Serious Aeration Mistakes To Avoid?
Is It a Good Idea To Aerate Lawn Before and After?
It is a good idea to aerate the lawn after mowing it. Aeration is a crucial part of lawn maintenance and must be carried out during spring or autumn. Water and mow the grass before aeration and then allow the lawn a rest period.
The rest period should be at least four to five weeks before you can go for mowing or weed control. This is highly important because the grass and roots are still very sensitive right after aerating, so doing any changes might lead to drastic effects on the health of your lawn.
– Why Aeration Timing Is Important
Aeration is not only good for the health of your lawn but is an unavoidable necessity. The more the usage of your lawn, the more compacted the soil gets and the more difficult it becomes for grass to establish itself. Here is why aeration instantly helps boost the health of your lawn, grass, and plants.
- It creates channels that help improve the mobility of water in the soil. The water you give the soil can soak deep within, helping the roots grow deeper. It also enables plant and grass roots better access to underground water sources. Such soil needs much less watering, saving up water and money.
- It helps introduce the oxygen-rich air deeper into the soil to the roots. The root health improves, leading to faster growth. Oxygen benefits the beneficial aerobic bacteria and increases their population. These are the bacteria that convert nitrogen into a form that is usable by the roots.
- Grass growing in well-aerated soil has easier and better access to nutrients than compacted soil that struggles to grow. This leads to better crops and produce.
- Moss proliferates in soil that is compact and retains water. Your lawn will finally be able to rid itself of moss after thorough aeration.
- The soil will stop collecting water as pathways open up in it. This saves your plants and grass from various water-borne fungal and bacterial infections.
- You will finally be able to get your money’s worth on fertilizers. As soil plugs are removed from the soil, fertilizer is better able to penetrate the root’s growing ends where it is most needed.
- It will improve lawn areas with thinning and yellowing grass, decrease the formation of thatch, and help improve the overall quality of grass blades, making your lawn loook the best it can.
– Aerating Before Grass’ Active Growth Period
Aerate your lawn either during the active growth phase of the grass or just before it. The grass during this phase is better able to tolerate and recover from stresses produced during this process. Different grass species go through their active phases at different times of the year, and you need to know which grass type you are growing.
Warm-season grasses begin growing actively in springtime and through late summer. These grasses, like Bermuda and St Augustine, need hot temperatures to grow.
If you are growing any grasses, aerate the soil anytime between late spring and early summer.
Cool-season grasses don’t do so well in very hot summers and go dormant. Their most active growth occurs in early fall when the temperatures begin to drop. If you have planted cool-growing grasses like Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass, then you have a narrow window between late summer and early fall to aerate your soil.
– Choosing Aerator and Grass Seeds Before Aeration
There are certain important things to do before carrying out your annual lawn aeration. We always recommend combining soil aeration with overseeding so that your grass grows back thicker than before. That is why you must take all the steps to ensure that overseeding is successful.
First, you must decide which aerator to use on the lawn. If you have a reasonably large lawn and can afford to hire professionals, go for core aeration without hesitation. Ask the team that you are hiring to complete two passes over the lawn to relieve double the soil compaction.
When aerating a small lawn yourself, try to hire an electric or gasoline-powered machine for a day. Manual aerators also work, but they require too much energy and will take a long time to cover even a small-sized lawn.
Choose the best-quality of grass seeds to thicken your grass after aeration. When going for aeration, always overseed the lawn right after. This is beneficial for two main reasons. The first is that the grass inevitably gets damaged and stressed during aeration.
Secondly, opening up air and water passages in the soil helps the seeds to germinate faster and the grass to grow taller quickly. Any bald patches that appear during aeration will soon fill up with the germination of new seeds.
Go to a trusted vendor to buy these seeds and those that are coated. These seeds have a much higher success rate compared to uncoated ones. Pre-germinated seeds are also a good option if you want instant results.
– Cleaning the Yard Right Before Aeration
Aerators should be used on clean and bump-free yards. Motorized ones, in particular, get affected by debris and clutter in the lawn. An extensive lawn cleaning needs to be scheduled right before aeration. If you are hiring a professional company, decide with them beforehand who will clean the yard.
Take a rake to the lawn and remove all fallen leaves and plant debris. Pick up stones, toys, and other such things as well. Move lawn chairs to the garage for a couple of days. Lawn decorations might accidentally obstruct aerators, so it’s best to mark them beforehand. Either paint them in a noticeable color or cover them with shiny plastic.
– Mowing Right Before Aeration
You need to mow your lawn right before aeration instead of right after. Grass blades inevitably get cut, crushed, and damaged during this process. The longer these blades are, the more damage the grass will incur.
It is best to mow the grass short by setting the lawn mower height to one and a half inches. This will also improve the effectiveness of mowing because the aerator will have better access to the soil. Three days before you are scheduled to aerate, turn the sprinklers on for about 30 minutes so the soil gets watered quite deeply.
Allow one to two days and the grass to dry before you mow it short. The soil will still be moist enough by this time and help the aerator to penetrate it better. We must warn you, though, not to water the soil the day before or the day of aeration. Mechanized aerators will need help working on moist and soft soil.
Collect grass clippings in the bag during mowing instead of spreading them over the lawn. Otherwise, you will have to double the effort to clean the lawn of these clippings. If you have a mulching blade type of mower, collect these cuttings as mulch and add them to your compost bin instead.
– Things To Do After Aeration
Some things improve the outcome of your lawn aeration program. Let us discuss this one by one in this section.
- Leave the soil plugs that the core aerator has removed as it is. There is no need to rake or pick these up. They will break down quickly soon after and be a rich source of nutrients.
- When overseeding along with aerating, you must immediately water the soil for at least five minutes. New grass seeds need to be sowed in well-hydrated soil and then watered several times per day.
- Hold off on mowing grass for at least two to four weeks. Grass seeds germinating quickly can be mowed in two weeks, but it’s best to wait for at least three weeks. The old grass blades need to be given time to regain their strength.
- Aeration that is carried out properly will last for one whole year at least. Carrying it out every year will make the grass thrive better than ever.
– Types Of Aerators
There are three basic types of aerators, each suitable for a particular size and type of lawn. Let us see what the main merits and demerits of all these are below.
- Core aerators are the best ones used mostly by professionals and lawn care experts. A core aerator is a riding machine driven across the lawn and removes entire plugs or “cores” of soil at regular intervals. These aerators carry out the most efficient and rapid aeration as they can cover large lawn areas quickly. For most smaller-sized lawns in US homes, there will be little need for core aeration. Instead of borrowing this machine at high prices and removing large plugs of soil, we suggest you try other methods instead.
- Slicing aerators are the next best thing as these are also riding types of machines with rotating blades. These blades remove thatch and grass from the ground and improve air circulation. Unlike core aerators, this one does not remove soil from the lawn. After using them, your soil will be less compact, with proper passageways created to move air, water, nutrients, and beneficial worms.
- Spike aerator is the most basic type of aerator that anyone can use to improve their soil. It creates holes in the soil, and so many variations of it are available in the market. Some gardeners like wearing spiked shoes and then walking all over the lawn. At the same time, other people like to use a pitchfork to create holes by hand. The problem with spike aeration is that it will worsen soil compaction if used in a very large yard. That is why you should keep this method only for small-sized lawns.
What Are Some Serious Aeration Mistakes To Avoid?
Some serious aeration mistakes to avoid include using the wrong equipment, choosing the wrong time to aerate, not watering the soil beforehand, or mowing right after creating holes in the soil. Nobody wants to start aerating their lawn for its improvement only to damage it further.
– Starting With the Wrong Aeration Machine
Choosing a spike type of aerator is the easiest option out of all. It is also, unfortunately, the least favorable option out of all three. Most people opt for this because these aerators are the cheapest and the least complicated to use.
A spike aerator, either in the form of spiked boots or lawn pitchfork, works well if used properly. However, there are strong chances of further damage with these manual methods. The spiked shoes end up compacting the soil under them, and the pitchfork also compacts the soil around the holes it creates.
Even with core aeration machines, if you do not follow the proper guidelines, you can destroy the grass during aeration. For first-timers, we suggest you hire professional help and learn from them instead of going at it on your own.
– Aerating at the Wrong Time
Timing is the key to creating air and water spaces in your lawn. The weather conditions of your locality and the type of grass you have grown determine when you need to aerate. This is especially true when you have decided to overseed right afterward to make up for any grass damage that incurs along the way.
For example, aerating and seeding too late in autumn will cause the grass and the seeds to die during frost soon afterward. Similarly, aerating at the peak of summer will also put too much pressure on an already stressed grass.
If you are still determining whether or not your lawn needs aeration, consult a local lawn care company. These people are there to help you and will give professional advice.
– Not Watering the Soil Beforehand
You must water the soil deeply about two to three days before aeration. This way, the soil is soft enough to be pricked properly but not too wet and mushy to be a hindrance.
The more dry the soil is, the more effort you will need to put in. Especially with manual aeration, so much of your energy will be wasted in pushing the machines ahead. Not to mention all the extra time this will take.
This will also harm grass because dry and brittle grass blades break down much more easily. Trust us, aerating on dry soil and grass will lead your lawn to a worse condition than before.
– Not Watering Afterwards
Watering before aeration is important, but you must also water immediately afterwards. After sowing new seeds, they need to be kept moist for three to four weeks. For the first two weeks, water as much as five to six times a week so as not to let the soil dry.
Then gently taper out the watering frequency over the next few weeks. Keep the sprinklers on throughout this initial germination period only five times per session. Only after one month can you go back to watering your lawn deeply once a week.
If you are not vigilant about watering, the seeds won’t germinate and you will only be left with thin and wispy grass.
– Mowing Right Afterwards
Mowing old grass seeds within three weeks of aerating their soil will damage it. New seeds that have been sowed need three to four weeks for the grass to grow long enough to be mowed. We suggest you wait four to five weeks before carrying out your next mowing.
That is why mowing the grass immediately before aerating is a prerequisite. Your lawn will not need to be mowed for the next few weeks. Some professionals suggest letting the grass grow about three to four inches long before they are cut again.
– Applying Herbicides Too Soon
Going for weed control immediately afterward is not at all recommended. As we have mentioned before, your grass and its roots will be stressed soon after and will not be able to tolerate harsh chemicals.
The newly created holes in the soil will direct herbicides directly to the roots underground, and many people think this will be more effective because the herbicide is getting in direct contact with the weeds.
While you can kill weeds more quickly and effectively, you will also destroy your grass. Wait until you have mowed the grass at least three to four times before going for any weed control.
You have now read this comprehensive article on aerating your lawn for the best results.
Here are a few important take-home points regarding how to aerate lawn before and after.
- It is important to clean the lawn and mow the grass as short as possible before aerating to make aeration a more successful affair.
- The best times of the year to aerate any lawn is during spring or fall time.
- Aeration helps improve the air circulation in the soil, improve access to water by the roots, and make it easy for the roots to obtain nutrients.
- Core aerators are the most effective ones; they remove whole plugs of soil, while slicing ones are the next best option. Spike aerators are risky because they cause more compaction when used in a larger-sized yard.
After going through this article, you now know all about aeration from A to Z. We hope the information given here will help you carry out the lawn’s aeration to perfection, and if you haven’t ever aerated your lawn, then doing it only once will open your eyes to its usefulness.
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