Thatch and compaction are often a big threat to a homeowner's lawn. Fortunately, there's an easy solution - core aeration.
Thatch is composed of layers of living and decaying stems and roots between the green vegetation and the soil. Some thatch is normal - even healthy since it retains moisture, reduces compaction and increases tolerance to wear. Most lawns are subject to thatch accumulation. Excess thatch can be the result of neglect. A lack of microbial activity allows thatch to accumulate. Microbes need air and moisture to break down thatch.
Thatch can lead to serious problems. Thatch impedes water and fertilizer from reaching the roots. Thatch can suffocate your lawn by depriving the roots of oxygen and cause the grass roots to stay closer to the surface. Thatch is also the breeding ground for most of the diseases and damaging insects. Too much thatch can also reduce pesticide effectiveness.
Thatch will almost always get worse with time, not better You have two choices if you have excess thatch:
- You can dethatch your lawn with a vertical cutter. This will remove much thatch but this process is invasive and will also uproot the healthy grass plants.
- The alternative - we recommend is core aeration because not only does it work better, it offers the least amount of disturbance to the healthy plants.
Core Aeration is the mechanical removal of a small core of soil and thatch.
Benefits of Core Aeration
Core aeration helps the lawn's health and vigour, and it reduces maintenance requirements. By breaking through the dense thatch and opening up the soil to permit free movement of water, fertilizer and air, the following benefits also occur.
- Improved soil oxygen. More oxygen means increased root growth and better microbial activity to speed up the breakdown of thatch.
- A good core aeration can shrink your lawn's water bill by 50%. The reason is simple. With a heavy thatch, most of the water sprinkled on the grass runs off your lawn and down the street. After an aeration, a lot less water will go a long way. Along with this, fertilizer uptake and use will be improved.
- By extracting cores from the surface, core aeration relieves soil compaction and gives grass roots room to grow. This results in improved cushioning and resiliency.
- The roots grow deeper and spread further. This helps your lawn survive stress times of drought, high temperatures and foot traffic.
- By reducing thatch, insects like chinch bugs are less likely to harm your lawn.
You should aerate at least once a year. Aeration is one of the best preventative maintenance treatments for your lawn, and should be done yearly. Some lawns (on heavy clay or subject to intense use) may need aerations more often. Talk to us- we will recommend the schedule that will help to relieve your thatch and compaction problems.
Once core aerated, you lawn will be dotted with the little plugs from the soil. These plugs will break apart and disappear into the lawn within a week or two.
About 7-10 days after aeration, the aerification holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots. This is a sign that the turf is responding to the additional oxygen, moisture and nutrients in the soil
On compacted soils and on lawns with slopes you should see an immediate reduction in water puddling and runoff after rainfall. After aeration you lawn should be able to go longer between watering without showing signs of wilt. With repeat aerations over time, you lawn will show enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
However, don't expect miracles from a single aeration with extremely poor soils.
Aerate new Sod
If you have newly laid sod, core aeration is a method to help it knit into the subsoil. Also new sod may have some thatch inherent in the rolls to help hold the sod together. But, Caution should be taken ... wait several months until the sod is well rooted.