If you aren’t familiar with what aeration is or why it is helpful for your lawn, you are not alone. It’s something that can easily go unattended because it happens under the the surface. In fact, only 25% of homeowners in the United States aerate their lawn.
What is Aeration and Why is it Important?
Aeration is a process by which air is allowed to circulate through a substance. You can aerate a wide variety of things, such as milk, blood and also soil. It allows air to circulate through the lawn, but also provides a pathway for water and nutrients to reach the roots in a more direct manner. Aeration is usually accomplished by poking holes in the soil or by taking plugs of soil out of the ground. Core aeration requires heavy machinery that has been designed specifically for this purpose. The use of aerators creates exposed roots and surfaces of the plant are cut open, this can result in the plant dying out a bit before it heals. This process can take up to a couple weeks.
There are natural soil aerators, like bugs and other soil-loving creatures that dig in the dirt – but they are not as effective or as capable as humans are, especially professional lawn care technicians. Following the service, you will notice a stronger turf beneath your feet after a few weeks.
When is the Best Season to Aerate in Cedar Rapids & Iowa City?
Before you go and buy yourself a lawn aerator or hire someone to come out, you should know that there are better times to aerate your lawn than others. While the long-term effects of aeration are beneficial for your lawn, it is also stressful to the plants if not done a the right time. We want to target the times of the year when the lawn is healthy and growing. In Iowa (specifically Cedar Rapids & Iowa City), we have cool season grasses. So spring and fall are the best times to both aerate and seed your lawn.
Now that its narrowed down to the season, the other huge factor is the weather. We know how unpredictable Iowa weather can be and it has an impact on when your lawn entering its “growing” stage. Because we tailor our lawn care program to take advantage of the weather conditions, we have found that these ideal times present themselves in the spring and late summer/fall for Cedar Rapids & Iowa City.
Ideal Weather Conditions for Aeration
In the spring, it’s best to wait until the grass is starting to or is consistently growing. For this to happen, the soil needs to be approaching 50+ degrees. There are a couple indicators we can use tell when a lawn is fit for aeration:
- Green Grass – Every fall/winter, the plant goes dormant. As a result, it tends to turn a yellowish/brown color. In the spring, the new growth pushes out the dormant material, which is eventually mowed off and decomposes. When a lawn has consistently green grass, we know it has grown out of dormancy and it healthy enough for aeration.
- Mowing frequency – Mowing should be done often enough that you remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. When the lawn needs mowed more than once a week, it is a strong indicator it would recover quickly from aeration. Mowing frequently is also a great way to break up the cores that have been pulled during aeration, allowing the soil to fall back into the holes and decompose naturally.
In the early fall (August through October), growth of the plant isn’t as rapid as it was in the spring. However, this is when the root growth is accelerated as the plant is recovering from the heat of the summer months. There is always a chance your lawn goes dormant in the summer months, so you may need to wait until the grass greens again before aerating. Also if there was a summer drought, the soil may be too hard to even penetrate well. So waiting for cooler temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and increased rainfall make the fall a perfect time of year for the lawn.
Don’t have time to aerate your lawn?
Your time is valuable. We know you have family, hobbies and work so give us a call and we would be happy to provide you with a no obligation quote.