Having a beautiful lawn year-round takes more than just water and sunshine, and the more effort you put into the health of your grass in the fall, the better it will look in the spring. Aerating and over seeding your lawn are two important steps to take if you want to maximize the beauty and value of your property. Autumn is the perfect time to learn more about why you should aerate and over seed your lawn, so here are some important items to think about when considering these vital services:
TYPES OF AERATION
Just like humans, plants need water and oxygen, too – and when your grass breathes better, it grows better. Aerating your lawn will help air and water to get to the roots of your grass, and in the process, nutrients will also be spread throughout the soil. When your soil gets compacted, grasses have a harder time reaching down into the ground to glean all of those essential life-giving compounds. Thatch, which is the layer of decomposing material between the top of the grass blades and the soil itself, can also prevent your grass from growing as thick and lush as possible. Aeration can help solve these problems, and it is completely worth the investment if you want to maximize the beauty and health of your lawn. Most professional lawn services apply one of three basic aeration methods:
- Core Aeration uses a machine that pulls out small cylinders of soil from the ground and spreads them on the surface. While this can be relatively unsightly for a short period of time until the lifted plugs of dirt decompose back into the soil, it’s the best way to create the underground spaces needed for your grass to breathe, drink and eat so it can grow. You can always mow at a low setting and spray water to help speed up the process of disintegration.
- Spiking applies the same principle to create holes in the ground, but it pushes the soil from the holes further into the ground instead of lifting the plugs of dirt out and onto the lawn.
- Slicing cuts thin strips in the ground with the same idea in mind.
Aeration is recommended every few years if your lawn is in good shape – if it’s hurting, though, or if there is a lot of traffic on your lawn, schedule an aeration appointment each year, or every other year, until the lawn’s health fully returns. If your lawn is made up of mostly cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or fescue, the fall months are the best time to aerate because temperatures are lower and there’s less chance of frying the lawn you’ve spent all year making green, as well as reducing the risk of introducing new weeds. You’ll want to have aeration performed a couple weeks before your last fertilization of the season, and ideally a month or so before you expect the first frost of the year. This will give your grass the time it needs to recuperate before the winter hits. For more Southern climates with warm-season grasses like zoysia, carpet, Bermuda, St. Augustine, or centipede, we recommend late May through September. Either way, aeration is best done with mild temperatures to maximize outcomes. Just one quick word to the wise: if you have an irrigation system, it’s definitely a good idea to mark the sprinkler heads before the aeration team arrives so you don’t have any unexpected repair bills!
OVER SEEDING YOUR LAWN
Over seeding is simply sowing more seed onto the ground to thicken and enrich your lawn’s appearance, which will make less room for weeds, prevent against insect infestation, and make the grass more resistant to diseases. We recommend over seeding as long as at least half of your lawn is healthy. (If a majority of the grass is dying or dead, then it’s probably time to press the reset button and look into an extreme lawn makeover!) Especially in parts of the U.S. where cool season and warm season grasses overlap, over seeding can be an effective method for building resilience into your lawn: each type of grass will complement one another and grow when the other is in its off-season. If you live in one of these areas, you’ll want to consult with a lawn care professional about what kinds of seeds to use to maximize their performance throughout the changing of seasons.
CONSULT A LAWN CARE PROFESSIONAL
It’s also a good idea to consult an expert for the best ways to care for your lawn throughout the year, from how high to mow your grass to how often to water and fertilize. Lawn care is a mix of art and science, and it takes a lot of research and practice to get it just right. There are so many factors to consider, from the types of seeds available and how they will interact with your existing grasses, to other variables like the average temperature, humidity and rainfall in your area, plus soil acidity and many more items. So if you don’t exactly have a green thumb, or you don’t have a lot of extra time to invest in your lawn, you might want to consider hiring a professional service to develop and apply a holistic health plan to keep your grass growing as thick and green as possible.