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How to Aerate a Lawn

It’s not unusual for soil to compact over time. If you plan to seed or overseed your lawn, however, find out how to aerate it so that air, water, and nutrients will be able to reach the grass roots.

Since 1881, Jonathan Green has combined technology and tradition to produce the finest grass seed available. We have experimented with grass seed, fertilizers and soil treatments to understand what it takes to have a healthy lawn. For six generations, we have consistently improved our products to make sure they deliver excellent results year after year.

About Soil Compaction

There is a direct relationship between the amount of organic matter present in the soil and the number of microorganisms. The organic matter in the soil is created as plants and animals on the surface and in the soil die and are decayed by bacteria and fungi. They are ultimately converted to humus, a carbon-rich, dark-colored organic material. The humus and clays in soil attract and hold mineral particles and provide a home for the countless number of microbes, bacteria and fungi.

Soil begins to form when the forces of nature “weathering” breaks rocks down into mineral components. To support life, soil requires more than minerals. On average good soil is 45% minerals and 5% organic matter, with the other key components being sand, silt, air and water.

The soil microbes are of paramount importance in cycling nutrients in the lawn soil. It is only through the actions of these microbes, bacteria and fungi that the nutrients in the fertilizer you apply, or in the soil itself, are liberated for use by the grass plants.

Compaction in the soil occurs when the microorganisms consume the majority of the organic matter. Grass plants send billions upon billions of tiny grass roots through the countless passageways in the soil seeking water and nutrients, which are carried into their roots in dissolved water. This is the most important way in which top soil is made. The microorganisms line all of these passageways. As the microorganisms die the grass roots recede and the tiny tunnels cave in. When billions upon billions of these passageways collapse air water and nutrients can’t penetrate the soil and the end result is soil compaction.

To avoid or reverse soil compaction the soil microorganisms require a carbon-rich food source like Jonathan Green Love Your Soil®.

Mechanically Aerating Your Lawn

Aeration quickly reduces soil compaction to allow air, water and nutrients to reach grass roots, while reducing thatch. It also creates a nice area for growing newly seeded grass since the seed can get into the root zone more easily for better germination and root growth.

For the best results, use a plug aerator, which removes plugs of soil 2 to 3 inches deep. The tines on this machine are hollow on the inside to enable them to pull soil cores out of the earth. These machines can be rented from equipment rental stores if you would like to perform the job yourself. Other machines, called spike aerators, should not be used since they only poke holes in the soil, and this  will actually create more compaction.

  • Water the lawn thoroughly one to two days before you plan to aerate the soil.
  • Make a single pass over the whole lawn and multiple passes over areas that are very compacted.
  • The excavated soil plugs can be left on the ground to dry and decompose.

Seeding Your Lawn

Once you have aerated your lawn, it’s an ideal time to apply grass seed to fill in thin, patchy areas so that you can enjoy a more beautiful lawn next season.

We highly recommend Jonathan Green’s genetically superior Black Beauty® grass seed which is used by leading sod growers across the country. It creates a lawn full of grass that:

  • Is deep rooted (can grow roots up to 4 feet deep);
  • Exhibits an invisible waxy coating (like the waxy skin on an apple) that wards off disease and locks in moisture;
  • Has leaves that are dark green, lush, and uniform in texture;
  • Grows well in both full sun as well as partial shade;
  • Is bred to contain endophytes that make it naturally insect resistant.

Mentioned Products

Get more information about how to aerate your lawn from the experts at Jonathan Green. Visit us online or visit your nearest local independent lawn and garden store for another excellent source of lawn care advice.

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