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posted Sep 9, 2011, 6:28 PM by Gary Butcher

Aeration, or core cultivation, is standard lawn care. Aerating a lawn means supplying the soil with air, usually by poking holes in the ground throughout the lawn using an aerator. It reduces soil compaction and helps control thatch in lawns while helping water and fertilizer move into the root zone.

Aeration Tips and Facts

Aeration is most effective when actual cores or plugs of soil are pulled from the lawn. Holes should be two to three inches deep and no more than two to four inches apart.

• Lawns should be thoroughly watered the day before aerating so plugs can be pulled more deeply and easily.

• Mark all sprinkler heads, shallow irrigation lines and cable TV lines before aerating so those lines will not be damaged.

• On thatchy lawns, it is important to leave the cores on the lawn, allowing them to work back into the grass. Otherwise, the cores may be removed or left on the lawn.

• Lawns may be fertilized and seeded immediately after aeration. There is no need to top dress lawns following aeration.

• Thatch thickness and soil composition really can determine whether your water will penetrate the roots of your lawn or simply run off or evaporate without doing much good. Thatch can create a vicious cycle: More than a half inch of thatch will thicken from over watering while keeping water from reaching healthy grass roots during critical growing seasons.

What will aeration do for my lawn?

As lawns age or sustain heavy use from play, sports activities, pets, vehicle traffic and parking, soil compaction can result. Soil compacting forces are most severe in poorly drained or wet sites. Compaction greatly reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Compaction reduces total pore space and the amount of air within the soil. It has a negative impact on nutrient uptake and water infiltration, in addition to being a physical barrier to root growth. This results in poor top growth and lawn deterioration. Core aeration can benefit your lawn by:

• Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose thatch.• Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil. • Improving rooting. • Enhancing infiltration of rainfall or irrigation. • Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted

areas. Other reasons to aerate include:

• Your lawn is heavily used or driven upon on a regular basis, causing the turf to thin or look unthrifty.

• The thatch layer is in excess of 1/2 inch. • You have a heavy clay soil

Gary and Brandon Butcher

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