published Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Aeration is good for your grass

By Pat Lea

Q: What good is lawn aeration, and why have I been advised to do it now?

A: Most of the lawns in our area are the cool-season, evergreen, fescue grasses. These grasses grow best when temperatures are cool, and the fall is the best time to re-energize and restore them for several reasons. Cool temps, expected rainfall and the dying of seasonal weeds makes fall the optimum time to work on evergreen fescue lawns. You can get a great lawn by creating the healthiest environment.

As lawn grasses grow, parts die back. Over time, thatch, a thick layer of decayed leaves and detritus that blows in, can form on the surface of the soil around the grass plants. A light layer of thatch, say a half inch, is beneficial, as it holds moisture and cools grass roots. A heavy layer can promote fungus problems, harbor insects and slow plant growth. So you may be advised to dethatch, essentially a deep raking procedure. This opens up the soil and cleans up the plants.

Attractive lawns with few problems may get by with a dethatching in fall. Aeration equipment is usually a drum with hollow spikes that punch holes out of the sod at regular intervals. These holes allow air, moisture and fertilizer to get directly to plant roots, ultimately fixing your lawn problems.

Aeration allows room in the soil for beneficial worms to multiply and allows soil treatments to penetrate deeply into the zone where grass roots can absorb them. Aeration can remedy soil compaction from heavy foot or other traffic, fix fungus problems and will invigorate and promote healthy grass growth.

The plugs that are pulled from the sod can be allowed to remain on the surface and will gradually disintegrate into the lawn.

After aeration, your lawn grasses will be ready to absorb their optimum fall fertilization. The plants will have water and air to increase absorption of the fertilizer and a healthy open environment to spread and multiply the grass roots. It may look like a hole in the ground, but aeration is a shot in the arm for grasses.

Email Pat Lea at lea.pat@gmail.com.

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