Garden Aerator Basics

Do you long for a beautiful lush, green lawn, but your yard is just not cooperating? You’ve probably fertilized and watered your lawn 10 times over, year after year, thinking that may be the trick. Sometimes you may feel that you’re in a catch 22: If you don’t feed, fertilize and water your lawn, it will die. If you do feed, fertilize and water your lawn, it will die as well.

Your soil might be the culprit. If your soil contains clay, for instance, it can over time become as dense as a brick. Ever try growing something on a brick? Nothing is able to penetrate the surface. If you are struggling to grow in heavily, compacted soil, no wonder you have failed to make anything thrive no matter how much water or fertilizer you feed it.

Clay is made of very small, tiny particles. Works great for pottery but not very well suited for lawns. When you mold clay, it becomes shaped and compacted. Just think of your lawn after many sunny afternoons of outdoor fun with the kids. Your lawn has become compacted over time with all the heavy traffic. It essentially turns into a hard brick.

You may find that not every patch of soil on your lawn is the same. Under the trees or bushes for example, it may be moist and fertile, however not very well suited for grass because of the lack of sun. Other spots on your lawn will be denser than others. Just look along the driveway after the winter snow removal or how about that well worn shortcut to the sidewalk or driveway. Let us not forget the kid’s bike trails or the dog run. All these instances are the culprit of soils compacted.

You may have spent every weekend slaving over your lawn, but if the soils compacted you won’t get any results. To fix compacted soil you must first preform a couple of tests. The first test consists of simply going out to your lawn and trying to stick a sharpened pencil into the soil. If it breaks before you are able to penetrate the surface, than your soil is the culprit and you may be dealing with clay. Another test is to turn on the hose and let the sprinkler run for a bit. If the water sits on top of your lawn you have compacted soil. What ever you have applied to your lawn, whether its fertilizer, food or water was basically a waste of resources. You need to get those nutrients to the grass roots.

Aerate Definition:

One of the best ways to combat compaction is aerating. Aerating is the process of extracting holes about the size of a piece of chalk, evenly spaced over the surface of your lawn. Aerator equipment such as a plug type aerator or a deep core aerator are available for sale or rent at your local hardware store. Or you may just want to do a manual aerator by attaching aerating spikes or lawn aerator shoes to your kid’s and send them outdoors to play in the yard for the afternoon. Seriously, there are aerate lawn shoes available in the marketplace. The main point is that it is hard to overdo aerating lawns. Each hole will be a portal for water and fertilizer to reach the grassy roots.

Once the holes are open, you then want to spread compost evenly, about an inch deep, over your entire lawn. Rake it in after ward to make sure that it gets “forced” into all the holes. This will allow the water and fertilizer to slowly be absorbed into the surrounding soil.

After you have aerated and placed a top layer of compost on the old lawn, you will then need to reseed your lawn so that your grass will grow back with a heavier “coat”. The grass seed will embed themselves into the holes, where there will be plenty of room for moisture, allowing the roots to grow.

If your lawn has developed patches of bald spots, you can aerate on a smaller scale. You can either buy a hand operated aerating tool or use a spading or pitchfork to create the holes. Any tool will do as long as it perforates the soil deep enough, the deeper the better, to enable the compost and seeds to penetrate the soil. Just remember to keep the kids, cars, dogs and oh yes, the spouse off the area until the grass has filled in!

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Successful Gardening!
Kali S. Winters

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