One of the best ways to give your lawn a good start for this years growth is to aerate it now that the weather is beginning to get nice. In a typical spring your lawn starts out a bit waterlogged from both snow melt and spring rains. We in West Michigan had a great deal of snow that needed to melt this year, but fortunately the rains held off in March and April, and most areas were able to avoid flooding. Its also been much colder this year, and our vegetation is weeks behind the usual schedule of growth and blossoming. Under these conditions, while the soil is drying out, its best to lightly remove thatch with a gentle raking, but avoid walking too much on the lawn itself as too much weight can compact the soil and impede growth.
Without proper soil aeration, the roots of your grass will remain shallow as they will have a limited exposure to the nutrients, water, and oxygen they need to grow and develop. Soil types do vary, and the type of soil you have will affect how often you need to aerate it. Clay soils are very dense and need regular aeration, whereas sandy soils do not need as much intervention. Any area of lawn that gets heavy traffic will also need to be aerated more often.
Grass type makes a difference as well. Its best to aerate right before your grass period of most vigorous growth. For warm weather grasses like Bermuda grass or Buffalo grass, this will be in the spring. For cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or ryegrass, aerating in the fall is best, but aerating in the spring can also be helpful.
Prepare your lawn by raking it thoroughly and getting rid of any debris like sticks and bark. Then aerate either with a power or manual aerator when the soil is still moist but not wet. This will allow your aerator to better penetrate the soil. The most effective kind of aeration is core aeration, the kind that pulls plugs of soil and thatch out of your lawn. Do not worry about these little plugs – within a week or two they will be break apart and be reabsorbed into the lawn. Finish the job by watering and fertilizing your grass. It will respond with vigorous new blade and root growth! Then sit back in a lawn chair and enjoy your greenery.
PROCARE offers full landscaping and lawn care maintenance services. Wed be happy to take the work and worry out of spring lawn care for you. If you have questions about lawn care, contact Dirk at PROCARE today.