Achieving and maintaining a beautiful lawn requires basic lawn care practices such as properly mowing, fertilizing and watering. Ensuring nutrients can reach the soil beneath your grass are also important aspects to keep your lawn looking green. Implementing power raking and aeration allows air and water to penetrate built up grass or thatch and contribute to a healthy looking lawn. A&B Tool Rentals in Vancouver and Surrey carry Lawn Aerators and Power Rakes for rent.
What is Power Raking?
Power raking removes thatch, a tight mat of dead rhizomes, stems and roots, which builds up under the surface of a lawn. Some thatch is beneficial to lawns, but too much blocks water, air and nutrients from reaching the soil. If thatch gets thicker than 1/2 inch deep, the roots grow in the thatch instead of the soil.
What is Aeration?
Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.
The main reason for aerating is to alleviate soil compaction. Compacted soils have too many solid particles in a certain volume or space, which prevents proper circulation of air, water and nutrients within the soil. Excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements.
Should You Be Aerating Your Lawn?
One of the most common questions from homeowners is how to determine if they should be aerating their lawn. Your lawn is probably a good candidate for aeration if it:
- Gets heavy use, such as serving as the neighborhood playground or racetrack. Children and pets running around the yard contribute to soil compaction.
- Was established as part of a newly constructed home. Often, the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped or buried, and the grass established on subsoil has been compacted by construction traffic.
- Dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This might mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem. Take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.
- Was established by sod, and soil layering exists. Soil layering means that soil of finer texture, which comes with imported sod, is layered over the existing coarser soil. This layering disrupts drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor root development. Aerating breaks up the layering, allowing water to flow through the soil more easily and reach the roots.
Should you be Power Raking your lawn?
If the grass roots grow in thatch, the lawn may not survive hot, dry weather in the summer. Thick layers of thatch provide a home for insects and can result in an uneven, bumpy surface on a lawn, making it hard to mow. Thatch prolongs high humidity for the roots, promoting fungal and bacterial diseases. It builds up in lawns that are heavily fertilized or grow in soil that is poorly aerated or drains poorly. Pesticides used to repel earthworms can also increase the layer of thatch.
Thatch Depth: Power raking is stressful to lawns so you should only do it when the thatch is thicker than 1/2 inch. You can’t see true thatch by examining the top of your lawn. To check for thatch, cut several plugs 2 to 3 inches deep and look for a spongy, reddish-brown mat between the green grass and the soil. The thatch layer resembles felt.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
The best time for aeration is during the growing season, when the grass can heal and fill in any open areas after soil plugs are removed. Ideally, aerate the lawn with cool season grass in the early spring or fall and those with warm season grass in the late spring.
When to Power Rake your lawn
Power rake most grass types in the growing season. Power rake zoysia in the early summer and bluegrass in the early fall. Power rake cool-season grasses in the early fall. Cool-season grasses grow in the spring and fall and include Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass. Power rake zoysia grass and Bermuda grass in late spring when the grass is actively growing.
Deep power raking uses vertical tines on a revolving reel to remove thatch and can damage a lawn by removing much of the living turf. Core aeration removes slender plugs from a lawn to relieve compaction from foot traffic and typically causes less damage than power raking. Lawns growing on clay or silty loam or that have a lot of use may benefit from aeration once a year. Loam is soil that has roughly equal amounts of sand, silt and clay. Aeration helps improve the efficiency of irrigation and increases the penetration of soil-applied pesticides.