A regular fertilization program is important to maintain healthy, attractive turf. A fertilizer grade or analysis is the percentages of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in the fertilizer. You should choose a fertilizer for the total amount of nutrients in the container and the nitrogen source. It is usually wise to get a […]
Aerating lawns are common for homeowners who want their yard's turf to look healthier and lusher. It can also help prevent the growth of weeds by breaking up soil clumps that may be too close together. Correctly performed, aeration helps promote healthy grass growth while avoiding damage from compaction and disease.
Aeration has many benefits, but it can also cause stress on plants if done improperly. For this reason, it’s essential to know how to properly perform aeration to avoid damaging your lawn grass, or garden. The best way to learn about core aeration is to have someone show you how. If you decide to leap into learning yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind and the best times to aerate your lawn in Georgia.
Signs Your Lawn is in Need of Aeration
First, lawn aeration isn't just necessary during hot summer months or cold winter months. It would help if you considered adding an annual aeration routine to your lawn calendar since most lawn type needs it every season. This will ensure you keep a healthy lawn and don't become overgrown with weeds and other invasive plant life.
Weeds are one of the most significant signs that your property needs aerating because they crowd out the natural vegetation that keeps your turf looking green and healthy. Weeds also compete with your property for water and nutrients, which means they grow faster than your grass. To make matters worse, grass roots can break through the surface and create unsightly holes in your lawn. Once this happens, you'll notice the grass begin to turn yellow and die off.
Other signs that your lawn is ready for aeration include deep patches of dirt and compacted areas. These telltale signs usually appear after several years of excessive foot traffic or drought conditions. As these problems persist, the turf becomes more challenging to maintain due to a lack of sunlight and moisture. When this occurs, aeration and dethatching come in handy. Turning over the dirt and creating new pathways allows light to reach deeper down below the surface where there is no more extended competition for water and nutrients.
While these are the significant reasons you should aerate your lawn, there are also practical considerations like climate and seasonal changes. During the cooler seasons, lawnmowers get stuck in the mud more often, so you could end up having to spend extra time pushing them around. Also, heavy rainstorms can wash away mulch and compost, leaving bare spots behind. In warmer weather, it tends to grow taller and thicker, making it difficult to mow without getting caught under the blades.
If you're not sure whether or not your lawn needs aeration, try taking a sample section of turf (about two feet wide) and growing it in another part of your yard. Next, use a sharp blade knife to cut about 2 inches above the ground. Then, pull back the edge of the turf gently until you see what kind of root structure is underneath. If you see mostly live roots, then chances are your turf still needs aeration. However, if you see mostly dead roots, the turf probably doesn't require aeration since it already has enough breathing room.
Cool Season vs. Warm Season Grass
Different types of grass respond differently to the same amount of sun exposure. While warm-season grass thrives in full sun all day long, cool-season grass prefers partial shade or at least low levels of direct sunlight. Because of this, you might find it easier to create a lawn calendar and stick to specific times of day to mow each type of grass. Here are some tips for finding the right time to aerate different varieties of grass:
Lawn Calendar for Warm Season Grass: Try mowing between 10 am and 4 pm during the hottest parts of the day.
Lawn Calendar for Cool Season Grass: Mow early morning hours before 9 am to avoid burning your grass. Afternoons work great for cutting cool-season grass species like fescue and bluegrass.
There are also differences in how much sunlight each type of grass prefers. Typically, cool-season grass tolerates higher shade amounts than warm-season varieties. On average, cool-season grass can withstand up to 18 hours of intense sunlight per day, whereas warm-season grass only survives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
Types of Cool Season Grass
Below are some examples of commonly grown cool-season grass found in Georgia:
Fescue Lawns - Fescue is a popular choice among homeowners due to its high tolerance for heat and drought. Their dense leaves provide good coverage even in shaded areas. They are also resilient against pests and diseases. Its large grass blades provide excelling shading properties.
Blue/Siberian/Bermudagrass Lawn - Bluegrass and Siberian ryegrass are both known for their strong resistance to drought and heat. Both of these varieties are ideal for golf courses and parks. The most common lawn in Georgia is the Bermudagrass Lawn. Having a Bermuda Lawn Calendar will help you identify the best time for aeration.
Kentucky Blue/Tall Fescue - A hybrid combination of Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue, this variety grows fast and produces thick stands of tall stems. Common cool-season grass Fescue has large grass blades that offer excellent shading properties.
Types of Warm Season Grass
Here are some examples of commonly grown warm-season lawn grass found in Georgia:
Red Fescue - Red Fescue is a very resilient grass type that thrives in dry climates with lots of sunshine.
Zoysia is a warm-season grass that requires ample rainfall to stay moist. It's also resistant to heat, drought, and fungal infections.
Molinet is a warm-season grass that enjoys moderate levels of humidity and warmth. It's ideally suited for residential yards, parks, and landscaping projects.
Now that we've established the types of grass typically grown in Georgia, let's explore the best times to aerate them.
Aeration and Overseeding
Once you determine the timing needed for lawn aeration, you must also decide whether or not you want to fertilize and overseed afterward. An aeration schedule works better with overseeding because it allows the turf to recover quicker from the disturbance. Aeration can improve drainage, increase nutrient uptake, reduce weed growth, and stimulate seed germination with proper management.
When aerating your lawn, always remember to leave 3-4 inches of space between rows of grass to allow room for the grass to regrow. Don’t worry, though; this won’t hurt the appearance of your amazing lawn. Special tools are available called "lawn aerators" that effectively remove topsoil from the turf. Before using any device, however, it’s imperative to check local regulations regarding digging in your yard. Some cities regulate searching activity based on the size of the hole you explore, while others prohibit this altogether. An aerated lawn will help you get a green and dense lawn by promoting increased photosynthesis and reducing the effects of drought. And although it might seem complicated, it’s pretty easy once you know how to do it correctly. Remember to follow the earlier guidelines to give your entire lawn the best chance of survival.
Professional Core Aeration and Overseeding in Georgia
Whether you choose to go it alone or hire a professional lawn aeration company to handle the job, core aeration is essential for maintaining healthy lawns throughout the entire year. Professional companies will typically charge a fee depending on the size of the property, but it's worth paying for quality service instead of spending money on products that don't work.
Core aeration is used to loosen the soil to absorb more water and nutrients. It's also helpful in preventing weeds from growing by removing small plugs of soil. In addition to this, core aeration promotes the sprouting of seeds so that you have a fresh start every spring.
Overseeding is a process whereby a layer of grass seed is spread across the lawn surface. This technique is often preferred by people who enjoy playing tennis, soccer, basketball, etc. Since the blades of grass remain it takes longer to establish themselves, overseeding gives your lawn a better chance of thriving in the future.
To summarize, aeration prevents the development of weeds and encourages the growth of beneficial microbes, fungi, and bacteria that decompose organic matter naturally. It also provides vital nourishment for the turf and keeps the soil loose to drain quickly. Finally, aeration promotes the establishment of additional grass seeds so that you get a lush lawn next spring.