There are many people who take great pride in their lawn. The fertilize it, mow it, trim it, edge it, and work hard to make it one of their property’s best visual assets. Yet their lawn is an actual, living, breathing collection of organisms that, like most living things, need air to survive. Without air, your lawn will begin to slowly die, and it will be evident in many ways. The process of giving your lawn the proper amount of air needed to be keep it healthy is known as lawn aeration. At the core of the problem is lawn thatch. Lawn thatch is as inevitable as the need to water your lawn occasionally, so all you can do is recognize the problem exists and do what needs to be done.
Lawn thatch is essentially the result of accumulated roots and stems that have not completely decomposed. You might think of it as built up gunk in your plumbing that prevents the water from normally going through the system. But with your lawn, it is not only the water that is blocked from getting to the root system but air and other nutrients essential for growth. Not every accumulation of lawn thatch is able to choke the life out of your lawn, just like an accumulation of gunk in your plumbing will cause everything to back up. But left unattended, over time the buildup will definitely become a problem. The general rule is that accumulations of lawn thatch over one-half inch will significantly affect the health of your lawn and must be removed.
But you don’t have to wait to get to that point and have to go through the process of dethatching. By aerating your lawn you can slow the growth of thatch as it assists with the decomposition of the dead roots and stems beneath the surface of the lawn. You will want to aerate your lawn in the spring and fall of each year, and by doing so you can simply poke holes in the lawn using a pitchfork or other lawn and garden tool capable of poking small holes in the surface of the lawn.
You can also take preventative measures by raking your lawn thoroughly. Instead of just lightly going over the surface with a rake, put some extra muscle behind it (not so much you tear up your lawn) and get lower into the ground to remove some of the potential lawn thatch in the form of roots and stems that may have fallen from nearby trees. The older people who are often accused of screaming at children to “Get off of my lawn!” actually know what they are doing. One thing that increases the potential for lawn thatch accumulation are heavily trafficked lawn areas trampled under foot by people walking on it. These areas often require additional work (and money) to restore their original condition. There is a machine designed to perform core aeration that will physically left sections of the underlying lawn thatch, allowing the lawn to breathe once again.
If there is one thing you should take away from this article is that keeping a lawn looking beautiful and healthy is something that requires constant attention and a fair amount of time. On the one hand, people love walking on a neatly trimmed, healthy lawn – especially barefoot. There is something special about feeling nature under your feet instead of asphalt and concrete, sans the cow pies or other of nature’s reminders that we do not live alone on the planet. But achieving this end requires a solid combination of knowledge, experience, and determination. Nature naturally will fight with you every step of the way, and experienced lawn aerators and landscapers know firsthand the battle lasts a lifetime.
Knowing what lawn aeration is and its major underlying causes will help you to do as little work as possible upfront to prevent lawn thatch from becoming a major problem. If you are unable to make the time to do the job right, and still want a beautiful lawn, contact a local landscaping business and check into their rates for lawn aeration. You will think of them as the HVAC maintenance person who stops in twice a year to keep your home heated and cooled throughout the year. Your lawn needs its own aeration care.