If you’re dreaming of cool spring days and hot summer months then you may also be thinking about your garden. Lockdown has caused many people to spruce up their gardens. But if your lawn is looking sad, how do you aerate your lawn and create the perfect space for entertaining friends and family?
Good grass needs air, water and the right nutrients to help it grow thick and strong. But if the kids or grandchildren are running on the grass all day, it may stop the turf from growing as you would like it to.
Compacted soil can have a detrimental effect on your lawn. But don’t worry. Aerating your lawn – putting small holes into the soil – can help the air, water and nutrients get down to the roots.
Aerating your lawn even once can have a huge impact on your grass. In fact, aerating your lawn is essential if you want to have a healthy looking garden that’s perfect for entertaining guests when lockdown lifts.
Do I need to aerate my lawn?
If your lawn has puddles of water sitting on it, if you have clay soil or if your soil is hard then you may have compacted soil. However, there is a simple way to tell if your soil is compacted: Reach for your toolbox and take out a screwdriver. If you are finding it hard to push the screwdriver into the grass then you will need to aerate your lawn. If the screwdriver slides in easily then you won’t need to.
When should I aerate my lawn?
It’s best to aerate your lawn at least once a year. But the best time is when the grass is growing vigorously – either in early or late spring or autumn. Do not aerate your lawn when the weather is too hot (summer) or too cold (winter) as both dry soil and frozen soil make penetrating the lawn more difficult. You should also wait four weeks if you want to apply grass seed.
How do I aerate my lawn?
Before you aerate your lawn, cut your grass short, and in different directions. This ensures a thorough cut. Also, make sure the soil is moist and not dry, as trying to aerate dry soil could create further compaction problems down the line.
Water the grass before you aerate it and when you aerate it, make sure there is about a month before the hot summer or cold winter arrives.
Hiring an aerator takes away the strain of aerating your lawn. It’s a quick and easy solution, and doesn’t require you to wander round the garden with a fork, making holes in the grass. Instead, you can punch hundreds of holes into your lawn within minutes, improving the drainage as you go.
There are two types of aerator on the market; spike aerators poke holes into the soil and plug aerators remove a plug of grass and soil. If you have harder soil, plug aerators are considered to be more effective. You may also hear these tools being referred to as a spike tine aerator or a hollow tine aerator.
Mow your grass the day before you plan to aerate it. Plus, if your lawn is looking a bit sad, scarify it with a rake to remove any material from the stem of the grass. Sometimes, depending on how poor your grass looks, you may need to mow the lawn again after scarification. This will remove any debris. Once you have done this, you can water the grass and get ready to aerate your lawn the next day.
When using a spike or plug aerator, you will need to go over compacted areas several times to ensure it is adequately aerated. That’s because the machine will only come into contact with a small percentage of grass as you walk over it.
Furthermore, it is best to aerate your line in straight lines, and aerate the edge of the lawn last, ensuring you aerate where you have turned with the aerator at the top of the lawn.
Once you have aerated your lawn, you should consider applying a fertiliser. This will give the grass the nutrients it needs to look thick and healthy. Also, consider applying a top dressing to add extra nutrients. This will encourage the grass to grow, improving its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions.
When your grass is growing nicely and you have aerated your lawn, continue to water your lawn regularly and mow it. This will encourage the grass to grow quicker. Then, you can enjoy looking at the fruits of your labour sooner rather than later.
To summarise, you should:
•Mow your lawn
•Mow the lawn again, if necessary
•Water your lawn
•Aerate your lawn
•Apply a fertiliser
•Watch your lawn grow
•Sit in your garden and look at your healthy lawn (Drinks optional)
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Images: Ochir-Erdene Oyunmedeg/Daniel Watson/Unsplash