A lawn is often a recreational area that is extensively used by people, whether in homes or in public gardens. As a lawn grows older, its use from activities, sports, pets, foot traffic and others can result in the soil below the grass compacting. This soil compaction is often more noticeable in places where lawns that do not have proper drainage, as the accumulation of water also assists in the compaction process.
When the soil gets compacted, it reduces the space for pores in the soil, and as a result, the roots of the lawn grass are deprived of the oxygen that they need to absorb water and nutrients. This then affects the root growth and results in deterioration of the top growth of the lawn.
The lawn, over time, also forms a thatch that becomes a barrier. Thatch is a natural process that is formed by any dead organic plant matter. Soil compaction and thatch can be detrimental to the growth of a lawn. Soil that is compacted can also stop the roots of the grass from spreading.
This compaction and the formation of thatch can be remedied through core aeration. In this action, small soil plugs are removed as cores from the lawn. These cores can be 1/2 inch in diameter, an inch to three inches in depth and at a spacing of about 6 inches.
You can have closer spacing if the compaction and thatch cover is very heavy. You can also get the same effect and facilitate lawn aeration by spiking equipment. You can use shoes that have spikes to create the same required holes in the soil of the lawn, but in this case, the constant walking over the lawn can also add to its compaction. The holes made by spikes are also very small and get filled up easily, thus negating the effect of aeration that the lawn requires.
Core aeration, on the other hand, removes plugs of soil from the lawn and this results in the soil getting loosened and creating the pores that are necessary for good plant growth. The soil then gets its original consistency that allows the roots of the grass to absorb fertilizers, water, and oxygen. This loosened soil from the core aeration then allows for stimulated root growth.
Core aeration is best performed in wet or moist soil and not when it is dry and muddy. You can leave the cores cut out from the soil, on the lawn, and allow it to be gradually absorbed as part of the soil. This operation must be done at least once a year, with fall being the best time of the year. It can also be combined with fertilizer application, as then the fertilizer granules reach the root zone directly and are easier to absorb. You then have greater root development, which will result in a greater growth of shoots.
If the lawn has thinned out, you can also take advantage of these core holes to broadcast grass seed. Keep the lawn moist for at least two weeks, after this, to facilitate the germination of seeds and the growth of shoots. A thin layer of peat moss or other organic materials can do wonders for a lawn that is freshly seeded.
Core aeration can increase microbiological activity and this can help to decompose the thatch. It acts to improve the root system, as it increases the capacity of the soil to move water, nutrient, and fertilizer required for the growth of grass. It can also prevent runoff of pesticide and fertilizer, while it increases the penetration of the soil from rainfall and any other irrigation.
We have already seen how core aeration can be useful for the introduction of new seeds in a lawn. The plugs of soil that result from core aeration break down and spread microorganisms resulting in breaking down thatch. A lawn without thatch is always one that is more healthy.
The cores also help to draw in the water to the soil, somewhat like a sponge would do. When the soil is compacted, it is likely that the water from your sprinklers will drain away and never reach the roots as it is meant to. Core aeration helps to increase the surface on a lawn that can absorb water, by almost five times.
When a lawn is aerated, it not only allows air to reach the roots but can also allow gases that form below the surface to escape. Oxygen from the air is then more readily available for the roots. A healthy lawn requires healthy roots, and core aeration can go a long way in ensuring this is possible by creating the most conducive environment for root growth. Carry out this activity at least once a year, and if you are regularly watering your lawn and mowing it, there is no reason why your lawn should not be green and luxurious.