The grass is not always greener on the other side. Often the grass is greener where it can breathe. We all feel better when we have a little space to move around and fresh air can circulate around us. The same thing goes for your lawn.

Watering, mowing and feeding are things which get taken care of with lawn maintenance, but aerating is often left out. When this happens there can be patches of grass which are not full and vibrant. Rather, you have patches of grass which look like they are balding. No matter how much fertilizer you throw out there, nothing takes hold and the grass never grows the way you want it to. If you have been struggling with this for your yard, chances are you are in need of aeration.

Understanding the Science of Grass

Grass is one of the simplest plants on earth, and one we depend on for food as well as for making our yards look amazing. Grass has threadlike roots which go deep into the ground. Hollow stems grow up from the ground and leaves shoot off of them. Blades of grass are the top most part of the leaves. In some species of grass the roots expand above ground and in others the roots extend under the soil.

The Problem With Protection

As grass grows, old grasses die and new grasses take their place. When the old grass dies, the decomposing roots help to protect the new grass as it is growing. However, the problem with this is that the decomposing roots make something called thatch. As with a thatched roof, think about this as a network of overlapping dead roots which hold in moisture. Issues arise when thatch gets too dense; over 3/4″. When this happens, moisture and food cannot get down to the new root system. You may notice thatch when, after watering the lawn, there are puddles where the water is not absorbed. Thatch gets in the way.

Causes of Compression

Thick thatch which has become compressed stops new grasses from getting the water and the nutrients that it needs to grow. Some of the things which can cause compression include:

  • Pressure on the area from a car or truck driving over it
  • Pressure on the area from a mower driving over it in a consistent pattern
  • Over fertilizing the lawn
  • Heavy foot traffic in the area
  • Acidic soil

To test if you have issues with thatch, attempt to dig in the questionable area. If the shovel or trowel goes into the ground easily, you are probably in good shape. If it takes pressure to drive the shovel into the ground, the ground has become compressed.

Benefits of Core Aeration

In order to save your lawn, thatch must be disrupted. Core aeration pokes thousands of holes into the ground bringing in oxygen and opening up the soil. When the soil is softer, minerals from water and fertilizer can get down deeper to the roots. Roots can grow stronger, grass will sprout more leaves, photosynthesis can readily occur and you will have a lush, green lawn.

Taking Care of Your Lawn

At Environmental Turf Management we have studied the grass growing cycle in the Atlanta area. We know that for warm season lawns, aeration is best done in the spring, whereas for cold season lawns, aeration and seeding should be done in the fall.

Opening up the soil with core aeration, along with watering, feeding and mowing, is what grass craves. For the best yard in the neighborhood, with strong, deep green grass, these four steps are the key.