Aeration & Why We Do It

Aeration is the process of mechanically poking thousands of holes in the soil. This allows water, oxygen and nutrients to better penetrate to the roots of your grass.

Solid-tine “spike” aerators pulled by lawn tractors are of little benefit. The best time to aerate fescue grass is in fall or early spring, when the grass is growing rapidly. On very compacted soils, aerating twice a year would not be out of the question. Apply fertilizer and water after aerating so the turf recovers rapidly.

Anyone who has wielded a shovel in North Carolina knows that the soil usually contains a lot of clay. The tiny clay particles are easily packed tightly together by rain and foot traffic. After a hot Southern summer, the earth can seem like it is made of bricks! The soil under a lawn becomes harder and harder as the years pass. It is rained on, walked on, played on and mowed regularly. Digging up the whole lawn to soften the soil is usually out of the question. What can be done to loosen the earth in a lawn while avoiding extreme damage to the lawn grass? The answer is to “aerate” the lawn – using an aerator machine which pulls plugs of soil out of the ground and loosens it. The holes allow oxygen and water to penetrate more deeply. This causes roots to go deeper, making the lawn more resistant to drought and disease.

Where to aerate?

The best time to aerate a lawn is just before the grass begins to grow rapidly. Fescue grass makes most of its productive growth in fall, so September and October are prime months to aerate fescue lawns. Bermuda, zoysia grass and centipede grass lawns are best to aerate in April – just as they have completed green-up, ready for vigorous growth. Not only is aeration important for soil compaction, but is a GREAT time to re-seed your lawn from which it has undoubtedly sustained some level of turf damage from the hot Carolina Summer.

Grass deficiency symptoms – soil nutrients needed

  • Nitrogen – Older leaves turn yellow green and little new growth is noticed.
  • Potassium – Leaf tips and edges looked burned.
  • Phosphorus – Foliage will change from dark green to reddish in hue.
  • Magnesium – Foliage will appear yellowish green with red tinted edges.
  • Calcium – New leaves will be small and grass will be rust colored.
  • Sulfur – Fully-grown leaves turn yellow.
  • Iron – The new grass will turn yellow.
  • Manganese – The new grass turns yellow.
  • Zinc – Grass leaves will appear shriveling, narrow bladed and smaller than usual.
  • Boron – Yellowed grassing and immature growth.
  • Molybdenum – Fully grown and mature grass appears gray-green.

The secret to partly eliminating any one of these problems from occurring is of course in the first step with a soil sample and improving the soil at that time of seedbed preparation. Feeding the lawn on a regular maintenance schedule as prescribed by the product information will probably result in not having any of these problems crop up in your lawn.