After a summer of backyard barbecues, graduations, and other events, your grass could start to show the signs of wear and tear. Even if you fertilize properly and take great care of your lawn, your soil underneath can still become compressed and thatch can build up from all the summer activities. Compacted soil and too much thatch can deprive your lawn of water, oxygen, and nutrients. This will cause your grass to become weak, leaving it vulnerable to threats like pests and disease.
When your soil becomes compact the only solution is aeration. Aeration is a process that pulls tiny plugs of sod out of your lawn to loosen up the soil so air, water, and nutrients can flow in once again. The plugs are then left on the surface to decompose naturally back into the soil.
Compact soil can exhibit signs of other stresses and lawn problems your yard may face. There isn’t just one symptom that tells you your soil is compact, but multiple. Knowing the signs will help you to cut down on the guesswork, save you money on useless products, and save your grass before it is too late.
Many homeowners live with a constant puddle in their yard that won’t seem to go away. While this could be caused by poor drainage or clay in the soil, it is also a sign of compacted soil and too much thatch. Standing water could pose a huge problem as it can be used by mosquitoes to breed.
You hear the term thatch used a lot in landscaping lingo, but what does it actually mean? Thatch is a layer of organic material that sits on top of your soil. It can be composed of broken-down leaves, grass clippings, and other organic matter built up over time. When thatch gets thick enough it can prevent water from getting through, causing it to runoff, denying your soil water, and contributing to soil compaction.
Another indicator of compact soil is simply trying to stick a shovel or screwdriver into it. If it’s easy, you’re in the clear. If it feels like you hit a brick wall, then your soil is compacted to the point that it needs to be aerated.
While aeration is a great way to rejuvenate your lawn, you need to time it properly in order for it to be effective. When to aerate your lawn depends on what type of grass you have because aeration works best when your grass is actively growing so it can quickly repair itself.
Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues should be aerated in the early spring or fall.
Warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, Bermuda, centipede, or zoysiagrass should be aerated in the late spring.
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