Americans see it every year all over the country. Late in the summer or early in the spring, front yards that look like parking lots and feel like them too! This is because harsh winters and blistering summers, as well as foot traffic from people and animals, is hard on the land. It is left dry and compacted. There is a solution to this problem: aeration. But many people are not aware of how much aeration does to help their yards. Here are a few misconceptions about the process.
The process of aeration sounds difficult and time consuming. Taking care of your yard is already a lot of work, so the idea of adding another task to this long list can seem overwhelming. But aeration takes relatively little time! The process is simple, requiring only – you guessed it – an aerator from your local hardware store. You’ll want to run the aerator when the soil is soft, usually the day after it rains. If the weather has been dry, simply water your lawn prior to aerating. Your lawn only needs to be aerated once a year, which makes this job even more manageable.
Many of you may think that the only lawns that need to be aerated are those in warm weather climates. Most people are only familiar with aeration in relation to golf courses and think of it as unnecessary. But the majority of American lawns – more than sixty percent – have compacted soil. They need to be aerated in order to remain healthy. You can tell that your lawn needs to be aerated if the grass seems to be thin or thinning, discolored, or if there is an inordinate amount of insects.
There are two kinds of equipment, and while they are both called aerators, the difference between the two is quite dramatic. What you want in an aerator is to allow air into the soil. A hollow tine aerator does this by strategically removing pellets of dirt from your lawn, loosening up the dirt to allow the lawn to breathe. A spike aerator, on the other hand, merely pushes the dirt deeper into the ground. The effect may look similar to the hollow tine aerator, but it does not allow the lawn to breathe. Imagine trying to make more room in a closet by simply jamming the clothes that are already there deeper into the back. The spike aerator compacts the soil even further, impeding oxygen and doing the opposite of what you want for your lawn.
Powered aerators are much bigger than manual aerators and generally run on gasoline. While most would agree that having a powered machine is helpful in most tasks, a manual aerator can also do a great job. Manual aerators are much easier to move and may be enough for smaller yards. If you do need to rent a powered aerator, consider sharing its rental with your neighbors. One afternoon is enough time to get the job done for several yards cost-effectively.
Especially in Georgia’s red clay soil, aeration is an important process and an investment in the long term health of your lawn. If you have never tried aerating your lawn, try doing it this spring and see for yourself the difference it can make in your lawn’s health and beauty.