With Spring on the way I thought it would be a good idea to add some cultural care of lawns information to the site. Here we will discuss core aeration and it’s benefits for having a beautiful home lawn.
What is core aeration and what does it do? Core aeration is a mechanical process that actually opens up the surface of the lawn to expose 4 times the surface area with out destroying the turf grass.
On heavy soils the ground can be compacted, especially clay soil, from heavy foot traffic or even heavy rain. The more compacted the soil is the less space between the soil particles for air spaces. Space between the soil particles is very important for several reasons. First these air spaces allow for the exchange of gases in the soil. If the soil is too compacted the gases manufactured by the plant can not escape and are trapped in the soil leading to poor growing condition. The more compacted the soil is the harder it is for water and nutrients to move down into the root zone. Without adequate moisture and nutrients the turf grass will weaken and die. Most important of all is that the roots of the turf grass do not actually grow in the soil they grow in the air spaces around the soil the less air spaces the less roots. Core aeration helps alleviate compaction and opens the soil up to help make the soil more able to accomplish these tasks.
A core aerator is a machine with hollow tines that penetrates the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches and actually pulls a plug of soil out and throws it on the surface of the lawn. The tines are spaced 3 to 4 inches apart and do a good job of pulling the plugs out on moderately moist lawns. In order to achieve best results the machine should be run over the entire lawn area in 3 to 4 different directions to really open the lawn surface. On heavily compacted turf such as sports fields up to 8 passes may be needed to get the desired results.
Now that the lawn as been aerated water and fertilizer will be able to get through the holes and down to the root zone of the grass plants. The plugs that are left will break up as you mow the lawn and actually work as a top dressing throwing the soil on top and help to break down the thatch layer by spreading the micro organisms in the soil on top of the thatch layer.
To really appreciate just what core aeration does for the plant a simple test can show you the benefit. After 3 to 4 weeks go out on the lawn with a spade and dig up a square block of soil about 8 inches by 8 inches about 10 inches deep. Next take a large knife and slice straight down through the soil over the center of one of the aeration holes and pull the soil apart and look at the two sides. You will find the aeration hole is packed with new healthy white roots ready to provide and store nutrients and moisture for the turf grass plants.