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Aeration may seem like an unnecessary or even odd chore that your yard-obsessed neighbor does, but not normal people like you. But in reality, it is a key part of maintaining a healthy lawn. Knowing why to aerate, when to aerate and how to aerate is not as complicated as you might think. In fact, read on, and you’ll have all the information you need in just a couple minutes. 

Why you should aerate your lawn

Over time, your lawn will be compacted by foot traffic and general use. This is even more likely if you spend a lot of time enjoying your property or entertaining family and friends. The ground becomes harder, and vital elements like water and nutrients are not able to make their way down into the soil to the roots of the grass. 

If you are overseeding your lawn, the seeds also won’t be able to set proper roots easily. Thatching, where a layer of dead grass exists between the soil and the live grass, can become a problem too when your soil is compacted. Aerating will soften the soil and allow the thatch to decompose rather than just sit on top. 

When to aerate

Aerating should definitely be done when you notice your soil is hard, if water and nutrients seem to be having trouble permeating the ground, or if a layer of thatch has developed. But these are all responses to an existing problem. Wouldn’t it be better to be proactive rather than reactive?

Proactive aeration should be a routine part of lawn maintenance that occurs during the growing season of your grass. Here in Indiana, we use mostly cool-season grasses, so the growing season will be early spring and early fall. These will likely be the best times for aeration. 

How to aerate

So, if the ground has become compacted, how do you loosen it? One common way is to use a “spike aerator,” which pierces the earth, creating a hole. This opens the ground to water, nutrients, fertilizer and other elements that were blocked out. 

While this can work, there are problems with the method. The biggest problem is that by spiking the ground, the earth around that hole actually becomes more compacted because it has to move out of the way of the spike. For this reason, professionals now prefer to use what’s called a “plug aerator.” 

Plug aerators create a three-inch plug of dirt and completely removes it from the ground, rather than just pushing the ground around it to the side. These plugs are then dropped on the surface where they settle back into the ground. By removing plugs of dirt, not only is there now a path for elements to permeate the ground, but the dirt around the hole decompacts by filling that space. 

DIY or professional job?

This is a job that can be done by the homeowner, but it can get a little tricky to do well. The choices about when to aerate and between spike or plug aerators are not the only factors to consider. If you have property in the Bloomington, Indiana, area, call Anthony’s at (812) 929-9463. We are the area’s trusted lawn care company and can make lawn aeration a part of your routine maintenance.