Lawn aeration is process of perforating the soil with small holes that allow water, oxygen and nutrients to be absorbed by the roots of your lawn. This allows the roots of your grass to grow deeper, stronger and fight off disease.
The main purpose of aeration is to alleviate soil compaction that prevents the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients throughout the soil. Aeration also helps eliminate the excess lawn thatch and heavy organic debris under the lawn that can starve healthy roots of the elements it needs to grow strong and healthy.
Furthermore, aeration helps with the removal of CO2 from the soil atmosphere. Accumulated CO2 hampers the growth of plant roots and starves them of the nutrients it needs to survive.
Should You Be Aerating Your Lawn?
One of the most common questions from homeowners is how to determine if they should be aerating their lawn. Your lawn is probably a good candidate for aeration if it:
- Gets heavy use, such as serving as the neighborhood playground or racetrack. Children and pets running around the yard contribute to soil compaction.
- Was established as part of a newly constructed home. Often, the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped or buried, and the grass established on subsoil has been compacted by construction traffic.
- Dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This might mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem. Take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.
- Was established by sod, and soil layering exists. Soil layering means that soil of finer texture, which comes with imported sod, is layered over the existing coarser soil. This layering disrupts drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor root development. Aerating breaks up the layering, allowing water to flow through the soil more easily and reach the roots.
When Should You Aerate Your Lawn
Aerating is most effective when done every fall, especially if it is done in conjunction with over seeding and fertilizing as part of a complete lawn care program. Aerating your lawn first gives your lawn time to de-compact so over seed and fertilizer can effectively penetrate deep into the soil and provide extra nutrients to help your lawn survive the cold and snowy Minnesota winters.
Fall is the most critical time to pay attention to your lawn because what you do now will determine how healthy your lawn will be come next spring and summer. For the best fall lawn care results you should do your best to complete the following tasks in order.
Aerating your lawn early during the fall season is the first step you should take for a healthy yard through the winter and into the spring. Aeration encourages good root development before the upcoming winter by loosening compacted soil to create a better growing environment for your lawn.
You want to aerate your lawn early enough in the fall when the air starts to cool but also while the soil temperatures remain warm. This will allow the soil in your lawn to de-compact and allows your lawn to absorb water and nutrients before the snow starts to fall and the ground begins to freeze.
Next, you will want to apply seed to your lawn before temperatures get too cold so it has a chance to get deep in the soil. It is recommended that you apply new seed to your lawn about every 4 or 5 years because, just like everything else in this world, your lawn is not immortal. After 4 or 5 years your lawn will slow down its reproduction rate which gives an environment for weeds to take over your lawn.
You can tell the difference in lawns that have been seeded every 4 or 5 years by their thickness. Well seeded lawns will reproduce healthier, thicker, greener lawns for years to come. Plus, well seeded lawns look professionally maintained, even if they’re not, and helps your lawn maintain its health.
Once the new seed has been down and has had a chance to dig deep into the soil, it is time to feed it! A slow release fertilizer is essential in Minnesota because once the snow falls you will have to wait months before you can do anything with it again. A slow release fertilizer will ensure that your lawn receives the nutrients it needs through the winter to give your grass the strong deep roots it needs to be healthy.
When choosing a fertilizer for the fall, besides using a slow release fertilizer, you will want to make sure it contains nitrogen. A high nitrogen fertilizer such as a 25-5-5 will promote lawn blade and foliage growth to help your lawn look greener for the upcoming season.
By now, the leaves should be falling off the trees and its time for the most labor intensive job of the year, raking leaves. It’s not a fun job but somebody has to do it because your lawn needs to breath and a lawn covered in leaves and snow will simply suffocate and leave you with a mud pit once the snow melts.
There are several ways one can “rake up” the leaves from their lawn. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can always hire a professional service. If you don’t want to hire a professional service, you can grab the rake and leaves and manually rake up all the leaves yourself. Alternatively, you can run your lawn mower over your lawn and either mulch the leaves into the ground or use a bagging system on your mower to bag your leaves.
Winterize Lawn Fertilizer
The final step to preparing your lawn for the cold months ahead is to winterize your lawn with fertilizer. This application of fertilizer, unlike early fall fertilizer, should contain a higher level of potassium. Potassium promotes a cellular level that strengthens and hardens plants from top to bottom that makes them more tolerant to cold Minnesota winters. Potassium also helps your lawn absorb nutrients which balances the feeding of your lawn.
If you follow the fall lawn care steps in the order listed above, your lawn will survive the winter and be ready to sprout once the snow is gone and the temperatures warm up. Peter Doran Lawn is a year round, full service lawn care company based in Minneapolis, MN. If you need help with any of your fall lawn care needs, we are here to help. Simply request a free estimate and we will be in contact shortly.