We strongly recommend aeration for all lawns once each year. Aeration reduces compaction. Compaction basically means that the soil is smashed tightly together, making it difficult for water, air, nutrients, and your grass’ roots to get down into the dirt.
Compaction can be caused by a number of things—excessive traffic, hard rainfalls, rainfalls that cause flooding and/or standing water (forcing all the oxygen out of the soil,) by sodium in your city water, or just by the type of soil you have (clay, for example.)
Aeration loosens the soil and allows air, water, nutrients, and your grass’ roots to penetrate more easily. Aeration will allow your watering to work better because it will soak into your lawn more easily. (If you notice that water always runs off your lawn when you’re watering, you really need to aerate to save on your water bill!)
Benefits of aeration include:
- Reduced soil compaction
- Improved air exchange
- Improved water penetration
- Improved resiliency and cushioning
- Improved fertilizer uptake and use
- Reduced water runoff and puddling
- Improved rooting
- Enhanced thatch breakdown
Warm season lawns (Bermuda, zoysia, centipedegrass, St. Augustine) should be aerated in the spring or summer, and cool season grasses (fescue, rye, bluegrass) should be aerated in the fall, at the same time that overseeding is done.
We offer a natural, liquid aeration called Sup-R-Soil that we apply in the late spring. We recommend Sup-R-Soil because it gives complete coverage, unlike an aeration machine. Sup-R-Soil costs two times your regular application price.
If you prefer to mechanically aerate, you can rent an aeration machine at most rental services. You run it over your yard and it pulls cylindrical plugs of soil out of your lawn.
We offer mechanical aeration in the fall only, in Tulsa, Memphis, and Springdale, in conjunction with the fall seeding of cool season grasses like fescue and rye.
Dethatching is a major project and we don’t recommend doing it unless your lawn really needs it. If you scalp your warm season lawn in the spring and mow your lawn properly and frequently enough, you shouldn’t need to dethatch. (Note: Dethatching is not a service we offer.)
The actual definition of thatch is “a tightly intermingled layer of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots of grass, which develops between the layer of green vegetation and the soil surface.”
Too much thatch hinders grass growth in many ways. Fertilizer applied on the surface gets tied up in the thatch layer, reducing the grass’ response to fertilization.
The un-decomposed layer of dead plant parts creates a good environment for disease organisms and insects to multiply and thrive. This can increase pest control and disease problems, and reduce the effectiveness of an insecticide or fungicide, should you need one.
Water penetration is greatly reduced by thick thatch layers, resulting in a lot of water simply running off. Also, the root system of the turf is shallow under heavy thatch and the grass can’t make effective use of the water in the soil because most of the root system is in the thatch layer.
The overall effect of thatch buildup is a turf low in vitality, easily susceptible to drought, and often affected by diseases and other pests. The weakened turfgrass plant is easily injured by any stress conditions.
Dethatching involves running a dethatching machine or verticutter over your lawn. Vertical blades will cut into the soil and pull up the thatch. This process makes a rather big mess and you will need to bag up a lot of stuff.
If you are thinking of dethatching, please check with your lawn tech or a field manager to be sure you need to do it in the first place, and if so, to make sure you don’t do it at the wrong time of year for your grass type!