How to Improve Soil Aeration
Soil aeration is the process of improving your soil’s ability to “breathe.” The word aerate means exactly what it sounds like- to provide airflow. Aerating your soil is something most lawn care professionals recommend doing about once per year.
But why is it important that your soil be able to breathe? And what exactly is the process of aeration?
In this article, we’re going to explore:
- The harms of compacted soil
- The benefits of aerating
- Improving soil aeration
- Helpful tools
The Harms of Compacted Soil
With frequent foot traffic and the natural settling from debris and irrigation, your soil can eventually get quite dense. This is bad for the root system as well as the grass blades. The soil cannot effectively circulate air, water, and nutrients when it’s compacted, because there simply isn’t adequate room for these things to move through the dirt.
So how do you know if your soil is compacted? Take a standard sized screwdriver and attempt to puncture your soil with it. If you cannot push the blade all the way through, your topsoil is compacted and you need to aerate.
The Benefits of Aerating
Imagine how hard it is to get from point A to point B when you’re in the middle of a traffic jam. Perhaps you’re on the highway, and you only creep a few feet closer to your exit every time the traffic moves. Or you’ve been sitting at the same red light for three exchanges, and still haven’t crossed the intersection.
It’s maddening, and situations like this can cause you to miss important events.
This is very much like what the air, water, and nutrients in your lawn experience with compacted soil. Yeah, they’re on their way, but the density of the surrounding dirt (the “road,” if you will) is slowing things down. Will they get their in time?
If your lawn’s root system doesn’t receive adequate amounts of what it needs- and in a timely fashion- your lawn will visibly suffer. This is why aerating your topsoil, when necessary, is critical to the overall health of your grass. It makes room for things to move quickly enough, beneath the surface, to keep everything healthy and well-nourished.
Improving Soil Aeration
Here in North Texas, it is important to keep your soil healthy, because this region’s dirt tends to be heavy in clay. Mulch, compost, and store-bought soil amendments are helpful in generating balanced topsoil that will support plant growth. The thing is, they need to be worked into your topsoil.
This process can be accomplished alongside the aeration process. Keep in mind that the goal is to loosen your soil and stir it up a bit, without completely unearthing your established grass bed. This means that poking narrow holes, a few inches apart, is the main objective.
Doing so allows air, nutrients, and water to sink more deeply into your topsoil. This allows the soil itself to do a more effective job of nourishing your lawn’s root system, which then provides you with a stronger and hardier bed of grass.
To improve soil aeration and mix in healthy nutrients, there are a few different tools you can use to get the job done. Your local garden store or lawn care company may have an aerator you can rent. If not, a turning fork, hand tiller, or even a pair of aerating shoes can be used to loosen the top layer.
Doing this by hand is often too laborious for larger yards, so keep in mind you can split the cost of renting an aerator with like-minded neighbors. But if your best option is using a hand-held tool, you can take it one section at a time.
When using hand-held tools, remember that you want to keep the puncture holes relatively small. We want to keep the grass bed intact without digging trenches that could result in trip hazards or pooling water.
If you choose a pair of aerating shoes, the ones with hollow tines are your best bet. They simply puncture the dirt a pull a bit out, leaving narrow holes in the soil.
- Compacted soil can literally strangle your lawn’s root system.
- If you aren’t sure whether soil aeration is necessary, use the “screwdriver test” to see if it’s compacted.
- Aerating your soil allows important minerals, as well as water and air, to move freely. This keeps your lawn healthy.
- You only need to penetrate to about 2 inches deep to effectively aerate your soil.
- There are several tools available to complete this process, including: aerators, aerating shoes, hand tillers, and turning forks. Need help? Get a service quote from TLC Landscapes for aerating services.
More information on lawn aerating and dethatching:
Published on February 27th, 2020
Updated on March 14th, 2020