A lawn that is used intensively will gradually become compacted, literally choking off the air in the grassroots. You can find out here when aerating the lawn is recommended and which devices make the work easier.
What does aerating actually mean?
There is a widespread misconception among hobby gardeners that the terms aerate and scarify refer to the same care measure. In fact, with a scarifier, you comb moss and weeds from the surface of the lawn, as rotating motor rollers scratch the turf 3-5 mm deep. If, on the other hand, you aerate the lawn, use the following method of operation:
- The devices use ground nails or hollow spoons to pierce the turf to a depth of 100 mm
- The regular perforation at a distance of 15-20 cm (6-7 inches) breaks up compaction
- The soil that has risen into the hollow spikes is collected and disposed of
Aerating your lawn in this way also eliminates harmful waterlogging and prevents it from forming again. In addition, more oxygen reaches the grassroots to activate growth there.
When does it make sense to aerate the lawn?
In winter, permanent wetness and frosty temperatures take their toll on the sensitive turf. Moss is spreading, weeds are pushing out, and waterlogging is forming.
As if that weren’t enough, the summertime activities with children playing, paddling pools set up, and boisterous barbecue parties also put the sod under pressure. Here you can find out when you should do particularly well with aerating the lawn:
- Aerate the lawn after the first mowing in March/April
- In September/October, ventilate the stressed grass area again
- Aerate heavily frequented green areas, such as golf courses or sports fields, every 6-8 weeks between March and October
Proper aerating undoubtedly involves additional work. If you want quantitative proof of the urgency of this measure, measure the degree of compaction with a penetrometer.
These devices determine the penetration resistance in bar by perforating the ground. At the same time, a color reaction provides information about the result, from green (0-15 bar) for unnecessary to yellow (15-22.5 bar) for recommended to red (22.5 bar+) for urgent.
A step-by-step guide to mechanical aeration
Aerating optimizes the supply of oxygen and water drainage from the lawn by using special spikes that poke holes in the turf. This can be done very easily with the help of machine-driven devices that can be rented in well-stocked hardware stores and rental shops. This is how you aerate the lawn in an exemplary manner:
- Mow the lawn 3-4 centimeters (1 inch) deep
- Before venting, equip the machine with the appropriate spoons, suitable for the soil quality
- Position the device so that you start along a lawn edge
- Pull the lever to set the spikes in motion
- Push the aerator forward at a reasonable speed
- If possible, do not step on the pushed-out ‘earth sausages’ again in order to be able to collect them at the end
The speed determines whether you dig deep enough in the lawn. If the devices drive too fast, they punch too far apart. If the speed is too low, the lawn will be perforated too much.
How to manually aerate the lawn
In order to aerate small lawn areas, the specialist trade offers devices that can be operated manually. Devices with a stable rail on which a handle with an ergonomic handle is located are particularly practical.
The conical spikes positioned at the bottom are hollow. With these spoons, the earth is pushed up with each hole and caught in a trough. That is how it goes:
- The ground is freshly mowed, frost-free, neither muddy nor dry
- To vent, make holes in the turf at a distance of 15 cm (6 inches)
- The end in the tub is disposed of in the compost
The following rule of thumb serves as a guide to when a lawn is effectively aerated: 200 holes per square meter will adequately aerate a compacted sod.
The devices should be equipped with at least 2 spikes. With each additional spoon, you aerate the lawn more intensively, but you are forced to use more force with each hole.
Scarify moss-covered grass areas first
Diligent hobby gardeners make their work unnecessarily difficult when they aerate a moss-covered lawn. In addition, there is still insufficient oxygen reaching the roots in a matted patch of grass after the hole has been punched.
It, therefore, makes sense to scarify the green before venting. Proceed with these steps:
- The weather will be mild and dry between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius (50-68 F)
- As an exception, the lawn is mowed as deep as possible
- Go lengthwise and crosswise over the lawn with the scarifier in two passes
- Sweep up and dispose of combed weeds and moss
Without further delay, you can then proceed to aerate the lawn. In the end, don’t let the battered appearance put you off. With this intensive care program, you have set the course for a velvety green, dense carpet of lawn. What is still missing in fine-tuning is conveyed in the following lines.
Sanden sets the perfect ending
Professional aerating results in a finish that is all about the holes created. By brushing in a layer of sand after the hole has been punched, the lawn area receives effective drainage. How to do it right:
- Spread half a bucket of sand per square meter
- Low-lime quartz sand with a grain size of 0/2 is ideally suited
- Sweep the sand evenly with a broom
If the grass growth appears to be particularly sparse after aeration, knowledgeable hobby gardeners combine sanding with overseeding. Thanks to the fine grains of sand, the lawn seeds are distributed excellently and germinate quickly.
Tips and Tricks
During the summer, there is always a frown among home gardeners about how long to water a dry lawn. A sod sample reveals the water requirement. Simply cut out a 10 cm ( 3.9 inches) deep piece of the lawn. If only the top 3 cm ( 1 inch) have dried, water the lawn for 1 hour. A 5 cm (2 inch) thick dry layer requires a sprinkling time of 1.5 hours.