In the cycle of nature, plants and animals have an important, make that vital, interaction. Our High School science class taught us: that animals and humans breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Conversely, plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. It is a perfect match. A lesser-known fact that seems to escape us in High School is that plants need oxygen, too. Aerating lawns opens up avenues for oxygen to get enter the soil. Also, as an added benefit, lawn aerating allows lawn fertilizer to better penetrate the soil surface and reach the roots of your grass.
The roots of plants need water, nutrients, and …oxygen. Oxygen is held in the spaces between the particles of the soil. In sandy soils, there’s a lot of space, and therefore, lots of oxygen in the soil for your plants’ roots. Oxygen is plentiful in soils rich in organic matter, too.
On the far side of the spectrum, however, are clay soils, and soils that have been compacted due to high traffic, or…..lawn rollers, perhaps! In these situations, there is little oxygen in the soil. Water and nutrients have a hard time getting down through the soil to the roots of your lawn where it is needed.
You guessed it, lawn aeration. The most common means of providing lawn aeration is a rolling type device towed behind a garden tractor that has many, many spikes. Another common variation is a spike with a hole in the middle. As the roller goes across the lawn, the hollow spikes pick up “plugs” of turf, opening passageways for water, nutrients, and oxygen.
The first clue is the type of soil. Lawns grown in clay soils typically will benefit from regular aeration.
Second, if the water sits on your lawn for long periods, or drains away with little seeping in, your lawn will benefit from aeration.
Third, if you are properly caring for your lawn, but it just doesn’t have the color and vitality you expect, aeration is likely in order.