Is your grass looking dull, brown and patchy after the summer heat and humidity? Is your lawn being overrun by weeds, pests or disease? Is it as healthy as it could be?
This fall, consider giving your grass a breath of fresh air by aerating and seeding. A hot Maryland summer can cause grass roots to become stressed from trying to maintain moisture and nutrients. This causes dried out, unhealthy grass that can cause your home to be the neighborhood eyesore.
Can I save my lawn?
Don’t worry, not all hope is lost. Fall happens to be the best time of year to aerate and seed your lawn. The scorching hot sunshine and overwhelming heat of summer are long gone. Those little drops of morning dew will keep your newly seeded lawn moist, and the less intense sun rays will cause the evaporation rate to slow down. Soil temperatures are still warm, but the cool rain will hydrate and nourish your new grass.
In fact, aeration should always be done during growing season, but not when the lawn is stressed by the summer heat. Your grass needs to focus its energy towards filling the open areas, not trying to stay fed and watered. Performing aeration too early can actually damage your lawn.
What in the world is Aeration?
Aeration is a service that perforates the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This has many benefits that will help your grass grow to its full potential:
- Reduces soil compaction.
- Breaks down thatch.
- Reduces weeds over time.
- Saves water and reduces run-off.
- Encourages germination of grass seed.
Over time, soil can become hard and packed down from children playing, pets running around, and even mowing the lawn. When the soil has been pressed down too tightly, air, water and nutrients can’t penetrate the soil because the particles are compressed together. Compaction can encourage molds, insects and disease while limiting the growth of grass roots.
The holes created by aeration allow for increased oxygen levels to the roots. The oxygen fills the empty space left by the aerating holes and crowds out weeds and disease, allowing crucial nutrients to penetrate the soil.
Thatch is a layer of dead and living grass shoots, stems and roots that shows up between the soil and grass blades on your lawn. It develops when your turf produces organic debris faster than it can break it down. Even a half inch layer of thatch will prevent air, light and water from reaching the root zone. Plus it’s an excellent breeding ground for insects and disease organisms.
Aerating your lawn will help break up overgrown patches of thatch that suffocate your lawn and starve your grass roots. And the extra space in the ground created by aeration allows for growth of microbes that break down thatch naturally, allowing for a denser, more lush lawn.
The lawn predators they are, opportunistic weeds flourish in areas where they can feed on a weak lawn. Crabgrass grows in thin areas, nutsedge pops up in bare spots, and broadleaf weeds spread where the grass is fragile and malnourished. The best defense against unwanted weeds is a thick, healthy lawn.
Creating perforation in compacted soil will help the ground soak in the right amount of water instead of leaving it to puddle up on top. Aeration also improves sun intake, which will not only assist the growth of new grass seed, but also dry up excess moisture. Encouraging this sort of natural drainage helps lower disease and decay in your lawn.
The perfect time to have your lawn seeded is right after aeration. The holes from aerating create the perfect environment for new seed to grow. Grass seed will germinate in these holes and directly on any cores left on top of the lawn after aerating. But have it done immediately – if you wait too long, the holes can fill up and the soil can dry out. The good news is you should be able to see seed germination almost immediately – generally within 7-10 days.
You Should be Aerating ESPECIALLY if…
- Your yard gets heavy use. If your house is the neighborhood hangout for the kids, your yard probably has soil compaction.
- You have a newly constructed home. Oftentimes the grass is established on subsoil that has been compacted by heavy construction machinery and traffic.
- Your lawn dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This could mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem.
- Your grass was established by sod, layered over coarser soil. This layering causes water to be held in the finer-textured sod, leading to compacted conditions and poor root development in the lower layers.
A set aeration and seeding schedule will create a healthier, more vigorous lawn that will be easier to maintain in the long run, with less weeds, insects, and disease. It’s a practice that should be incorporated into your lawn care efforts this fall.
If the process seems overwhelming – and it can be – enlist the help of our experts. They will determine the best plan of action for your lawn. Contact us here to set up a free evaluation ASAP. As we said earlier, it’s the perfect time for this service so our slots fill up quickly!