What Is Aeration?

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liquid aeration illustration

Famously used to achieve picturesque greenery for golf courses, aeration is the process of loosening compacted soil and thatch in order to allow your lawn to breathe and absorb nutrients. Aeration is one of the most underutilized lawn care tasks for residential properties, but lawns of all shapes and sizes can benefit from its effects.

What Is Thatch?

Thatch is a layer of organic material that sits on top of compacted soil across your lawn. The Kansas City area is known to have hard clay soils that are prone to compaction and dehydration. Organic matter that has not decomposed, such as fallen leaves, dead grass, stems, and roots, will add to the blockage of nutrients and airflow, and your lawn will struggle as a result.

identifying thatch buildup

By breaking up compacted patches of soil and thatch, you can restore color and thickness to your lawn this growing season. Compacted lawns make it very difficult for water and nutrients to permeate down to the roots of your grass where they are needed most. Aeration loosens that compacted soil and thatch layer to give your lawn easy access to all kinds of nourishment that it may have been lacking, which will lead to a lusher and greener lawn in no time!

What Is The Difference Between Liquid And Core Aeration?

There are two main types of aeration, each with their own benefits and practical applications. Liquid aeration and core aeration both have the goal of creating tiny pores to loosen compacted soil, but the delivery system of each type of aeration is where the difference is made.

Liquid Aeration

Most liquid aeration solutions contain an active ingredient called ammonium lauryl sulfate, which is commonly found in many hand soaps. Much in the same way hand soap works to break down and repel dirt from your skin, this compound goes to work on compacted soils by breaking down the compacted soil and thatch as it gets absorbed into your lawn. Many liquid aerators even contain beneficial microorganisms to condition the soil while loosening it.

man spraying liquid aeration over a lawn

Fast Application

As compared to core aeration, liquid aeration is a quicker process. The process of applying liquid aerator involves a blanket-spraying technique, in which large areas of grass are sprayed and completely covered. No heavy machinery or malfunctioning parts will slow you down with liquid aeration.

No Plugs

Core aeration pulls out compacted plugs of your lawn, and those plugs must either be cleaned up or left atop your lawn to decompose. For some people, the plugs made by core aeration may be too unsightly, or perhaps cleaning them up after aerating is too much of a hassle. These concerns do not exist with liquid aeration, as no plugs are extracted in the process.

More Coverage

Liquid aeration can cover more ground than core aeration because the solution continues to spread throughout your lawn’s soil after it is applied. On average, one quart of liquid aerator can cover over 30,000 square feet, and it is able to reach down deeper than core aeration can. Tight, hard-to-reach areas of your lawn are also much easier to treat with liquid aeration.

Core Aeration

Core aerating is likely the type of aeration more people would be familiar with, as its effects are often seen across lawns and golf courses without people even realizing what they are seeing. Core aeration loosens compacted lawns by removing tiny plugs of soil and thatch. As those plugs are removed, airflow and nutritional intake can be maximized because the soil begins to decompress, and it becomes more permeable. The holes left behind in the core aeration process are also a direct route for water and nutrients to reach the roots of your lawn.

Lawn Aeration

Better Drainage

While all forms of aeration have the ultimate goal of creating healthier turf via decompression of soil, drainage issues caused by compaction are best treated with core aeration rather than liquid. The holes left behind from the aeration plugs provide quick relief from standing water and puddles in your yard. Water will simply sit atop compacted lawns and cause your grass to die out, but core aeration will help alleviate any such drainage issues.

Thatch Management

When plugs of thatch and soil are removed, those plugs can be left on your lawn to decompose. This process introduces additional nutrients into your soil that were not able to be absorbed and utilized before aeration. With a properly decompressed lawn, the soil will become softer and actually able to use the extracted plugs as a form of fertilizer, which will make your lawn even healthier over time.

Improved Germination

Weeds love to invade struggling lawns and steal nutrients away from your turf. Core aeration not only makes it easier for grass seeds to germinate, it also creates more space for deeper turfgrass roots. As the roots of your lawn begin to spread, core aeration will make that development much easier, which helps choke out damaging weeds.

Tips For Aeration

Keep your lawn’s soil moist.

Whether you are implementing liquid aeration or core aeration, you should always make sure your lawn’s soil is moist before beginning. Compacted soil will be hard enough to penetrate, so ensuring that the top layer of soil is as softened as possible will increase the effectiveness of aeration. Consider waiting for a heavy rainfall, or make sure you water thoroughly the day before aeration occurs.

Core aerate severely compacted lawns.

Lawns that have many bare spots, standing water, or otherwise struggling turf will benefit most from core aeration. Core aeration should be performed on lawns that are severely damaged and/or compacted, and it is often necessary to make two passes over your struggling lawn for the best results.

Liquid aerate mostly healthy lawns.

If your lawn is about 75% healthy and just in need of a little boost, liquid aeration is the way to go. Soil that is not severely compacted will be able to absorb the liquid aerator solution and reap the benefits of aeration without you having to deal with heavy machinery involved with core aeration.

Rake thatch buildup.

Staying on top of tach buildup throughout the year is the best way to prevent compaction issues from getting even worse. Rather than allowing a thatch layer to build up over time before you address it, keeping it raked and loose regularly will allow your lawn access to nutrition and sunlight all year long, and it will make aeration a much easier and effective process.

Overseed at the time of aeration.

Seeding your lawn is important if you want to see green grass grow back, and there is no better time to seed than while you aerate. As compacted soil becomes looser, seeds will be able to fall to an appropriate depth for germination, and the decompression caused by aeration will allow the seedlings to receive the nourishment they require. Check out Heartland’s overseeding services for more information.

Continue general lawn maintenance.

Maintaining a healthy lawn is a year-round job, but every step you take in your lawn care routine makes the next step a little easier! Mowing and watering must be performed regularly, and professional fertilization and weed control services will ensure that your lawn is getting the treatment it deserves.

Call Heartland Turf & Landscape!

If you think aeration sounds like just what your lawn needs, we would love to help! Aeration can be performed by capable DIY enthusiasts, but a professional aeration service will always ensure the least amount of hassle and the best results for your lawn. Check out our aeration services today, or call us at (913) 238-9278.