Here in the South, spring or fall are the best times for aeration. In our area, heavy clay soils require frequent aeration, but check with your local officials to determine what is best for your yard. I use a Husqvarna GTH-26 garden tractor to pull my Agri-Fab Plug/Core Aerator with 100 pounds of concrete block fastened to its frame for deeper penetration. But you may choose to purchase a dedicated aerator such as the Husqvarna H-510 or even a rent a unit like the BlueBird 530 found at many rental centers across the country. Extreme How-To recommends the use of a plug aerator to prevent compacting of soil. Below are tips provided by Husqvarna for better aeration results.
Aeration is defined as the process of supplying something with air or exposing it to the circulation of air. For lawns, especially those subject to heavy and repeated foot traffic, aeration is vital to maintaining grass health.
Essentially, aeration punches holes through the grass thatch layer, allowing water, air and nutrients to better reach the roots. Lawns that do not have sufficient oxygen can suffer from a number of problems including slow growth, shallow root systems and high susceptibility to insects and disease. The holes also allow access to the thatch of soil-dwelling microbes, speeding its breakdown. Less thatch means the lawn can absorb more water.
There are two kinds of aeration devices that most landscapers use: the spike aerator, which punches holes in the sod and the plug aerator, which removes small plugs of soil and lays them across the lawn.
While most professionals agree that plug aeration is preferred, spike aerators are also commonly used. When using a spike aerator, there is one very important consideration. Since spike aerators push soil to the side instead of removing it, they can actually increase compaction if the operator is not careful; make sure aeration is really needed.
Most experts also suggest amending the soil and or seeding immediately after aeration since this is the time when the lawn is more “open” to receiving nutrients and maintaining new growth.
When to aerate is a matter of lawn condition, soil type and time of year. Lawns that are subject to heavy foot traffic such as those where children play often or commercial areas are prime candidates for aeration. Since the soil can become compacted in these areas, frequent aeration can help minimize the damage and promote better growth (some even suggest lightly aerating these heavy traffic areas several times a year).
Soil type can also be important to consider. Many areas of the country have soil that is heavily clay based – this type of soil can also become compacted at a faster rate and annual aeration will help grass roots grow deeper and stronger.
Most lawn experts agree that fall is probably the best time of year to aerate a lawn. (Although for warm weather grasses, spring is better). Aerating usually exposes a lot of soil, leaving your lawn susceptible to weeds like crabgrass. By aerating in the fall, any crabgrass or other weeds will quickly die off by the first frost.
Husqvarna is committed to safe and proper practices for landscapers while operating power equipment. For more information, visit the Husqvarna web site at www.husqvarna.com. To locate the nearest Husqvarna dealer, call toll free1-800-HUSKY 62.