Aerating Your Lawn this Spring: Supporting its Health Through the Summer Months
The sun is showing itself in Southeastern Wisconsin, the temperatures are rising accordingly, and grasses have awoken from their winter slumber. The persistent rainfall over the prior weeks have ensured plenty of moisture for the grass to begin growing in earnest, yet in order for it to fully receive the benefits of the excess water, lawns need proper aeration to distribute the nutrients where they are most needed.
Aeration is essentially the process of exposing your soil to air by removing plugs of soil throughout the lawn, or perforating with small holes. Aside from the compaction that occurs from snow during Wisconsin winters, lawns that endure heavy foot traffic or grow in a denser, clay soil are typically in need of aeration assistance. If your lawn has not been properly aerated yet this spring, delay no further.
Why aeration is so important:
Lawns in Southeast Wisconsin can be susceptible to freeze damage due to multiple freeze/ thaw cycles and sudden temperature swings that prevent grasses from properly acclimating. Lawns that have been compacted by snow and/or foot traffic have much less space in the soil for air, which can negatively affect root growth. Aeration creates hollows in the soil, which allow for proper airflow through the soil and to the roots of the grass. Roots need oxygen to absorb the necessary water and nutrients, significantly strengthening them to withstand the hotter temperatures and droughts that come with summer months.
Lawns in need of aeration that do not receive it are in danger of inadequate root growth, compromising its health throughout the summer. It may also result in fertilizer and pesticide runoff, decreasing their effectiveness. Other contributors to compacted soil may be excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris that is buried under the grass surface, depriving roots from essential nutrients.
Telltale signs that your lawn needs aeration:
- It gets heavy use, endures regular foot traffic from children, pets, etc.
- The lawn was established as part of a newly constructed home
- It dries out easily and has a spongy feeling
- It was established by sod and soil layering exists
Typically, the best time to aerate your lawn is during the growing season, early spring and/or fall, when grasses can heal and easily fill in the open areas that are exposed by the soil plug removal. It is important to assess the need of how often to aerate your lawn, based on use, history, and soil type, whether once or twice yearly, to ensure its health and beauty year after year.