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How To Tell If a Lawn Needs Aerating

lawn needs aeration sign
Lawn maintenance hinges on a couple of basic tasks: mowing, feeding, weeding and aerating. Tackle these four tasks faithfully, and your turf will likely be on a quick track to picture-perfect good looks. It’s easy to spot the need to cut, fertilize or weed, but understanding if turf wants aeration is just not so apparent - unless you know the signs.

In some situations, you don’t truly need to test your lawn to see if you should aerate. Soil that’s compacted on a regular basis requirements to be aerated on a regular basis. Compacted soil puts the squeeze on grass roots, inhibiting their potential to function - and robbing lush looks from your lawn. If your lawn is often driven on, grass almost certainly already looks thin and significantly less than excellent. The weight of a vehicle - even a mower - compacts soil, so it’s critical to differ mowing patterns to slow soil compaction.

Heavy clay soil or possibly a thatch layer of more than half an inch also signals the need for aeration. Lawns that show heavy put on and thinning from foot traffic, turn brown speedily when dry weather lingers, or have thick stands of clover are excellent candidates for aeration. If water tends to puddle following rains, taking a long time to drain, your soil could benefit from aeration. If grass growth stops inside the heat of August and soil feels as difficult as rock, you need to aerate. Last but not least, if you have never ever aerated your lawn, odds are you need to, but it is worth doing a easy diagnostic test to make confident.

A Easy Aeration Test

An easy approach to assess soil compaction is usually to push a screwdriver or pencil into it. In compacted soil, this process proves quite difficult. To confirm compaction, use a shovel to excavate a square foot of turf with soil. If you can simply sink the shovel to a depth of half the blade, your soil isn’t compacted. But if you uncover your self struggling to push the shovel into soil, perhaps even jumping on it, you need to aerate.

If you dig up the grass and soil, look for thatch and grass roots. Thatch lies between the living grass blades and soil. If that layer is more than one-half inch thick, you need to aerate. Look at grass roots extending into soil. If they attain 4-6 inches deep, your lawn doesn’t have a compaction dilemma. If, however, roots extend only 1-2 inches, you should think about aerating.

Timing in your dig test matters. Cool-season grass roots are longest in late spring; warm-season turf roots peak in fall.

Aeration Checklist

Signs that you need to aerate include:
  • water puddling on lawn soon after rain
  • vehicles driving or parking on lawn
  • thatch layer thicker than one-half inch
  • difficulty sticking a screwdriver or perhaps a pencil into soil
  • heavy clay soil
  • thin, patchy or bare grass

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