Most Cincinnati homeowners desire a thick, green and healthy lawn. It's commonly understood that the best way to accomplish this is through a lawn care program that includes mowing, watering, and applying fertilizer and weed control, but there are a couple of other tricks to getting that plush, green lawn you desire.
While tasks like lawn care treatments, watering, and mowing are incredibly important and will certainly improve your lawn, two often overlooked services are aeration and overseeding.
What is Aeration?
Aeration is the process of pulling out small soil cores (also known as plugs) to allow water, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the root zone. Some of the main benefits of aeration include:
Relieving Soil Compaction
One of the main reasons to aerate your lawn is to alleviate soil compaction. Compacted soil prevents proper circulation of air, water and nutrients within the soil.
Imagine trying to breathe with a zipped-up jacket that’s 3 sizes too tight. It would be a little tough! Just as you require oxygen, so do plants like grasses, and their roots absorb oxygen through their roots.
Growing a beautiful lawn requires soil that is loosened enough to allow oxygen to reach down a few inches. Aeration removes cores and places them on top of the surface. The remaining soil spreads out to fill the holes, creating a more loosened soil profile filled with tiny air pockets.
Improving Root Development & Filtration
The openings of air between soil particles improve root development because roots have more room to stretch and grow in these tiny voids. When roots grow deeper, it produces a thicker, healthier lawn.
The deeper your lawn’s root system, the better chances it has to survive drought conditions and the easier it is for grass plants to find nutrients and water.
Aeration also helps break up the layer of thatch in your lawn. Thatch is naturally-occurring, dead organic material that slowly builds up on top of the soil. A thick layer of thatch over ½” can prevent water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching the root zone.
Lawns with excessive thatch are also more prone to turf disease and certain insect problems. As soil cores are deposited on the lawn, microorganisms from beneath the surface slowly start to help the thatch decay instead of continually building up excessive amounts.
Improved Lawn Care Application Results
When lawns are regularly aerated, they also get more benefit from regular lawn care fertilization. Soil that allows these materials to reach deeper will help grass plants to absorb more nutrients for improved color and vigor.
Likewise, the thicker your lawn can grow from health-improving measures like core aeration, the less chance weeds will have of growing in your thick lawn. Over time this could mean less weed control products may be needed.
Should I Rake Up Aeration Plugs?
After your lawn is aerated, you’ll notice lots of small soil plugs on your lawn. While your first instinct may be to rake up these plugs, it’s actually best to leave them right where they are.
As we’ve mentioned briefly above, soil cores are beneficial to your lawn. Be patient and aeration plugs will break down within two to three weeks.
How Aeration and Overseeding Work Together
Both aeration and overseeding are completely natural methods to help your grass grow thicker and stronger over time. Property owners are often tempted to simply aerate their lawn and skip the overseeding because their lawn may be fairly full. However, overseeding during an aeration is a great way to take your lawn to the next level and to keep other issues from settling in over time.
Seed germination requires seed-to-soil contact. Fortunately, aerating your lawn creates small holes in the soil and brings soil plugs to the surface that allows for seeds to directly contact loosened soil. These areas provide new grass seedlings with favorable conditions to grow and mature their new root system. Overseeding is an effective way to fill in bare spots, improve the density of the grass and enhance the color of your lawn over time.
Overseeding a lawn creates opportunities to continually improve the grass growing in your lawn without starting over from scratch. As newer types of grass seeds are made available, your lawn’s resiliency and appearance can improve when they are introduced by overseeding.
The benefits of overseeding your lawn during aeration include:
- Filling in areas of your lawn that have been thinned out by summer stress, diseases or insects
- Thickening and increasing the density of thin lawns by causing existing grass plants to spread
- Improving your lawn’s ability to fight certain insects
- Improving your lawn’s ability to fight certain turf diseases
- Naturally choking out weeds and crabgrass.
A lawn care professional can identify the species of grass you have growing in your lawn and also give you the best recommendations for overseeding. What may have been true just ten years ago for a desired species may be different today.
In Cincinnati, we are seeing many lawns benefit from introducing Turf Type Tall Fescues into existing stands of Kentucky Bluegrass and/or Perennial Ryegrass. We’ve found that this grass is becoming more resilient against some common turf problems.
When is the Best Time to Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn?
In Cincinnati, the best time of year for aeration and overseeding is in the fall. Unlike aerating in the spring when crabgrass pre-emergent should be applied, fall aeration insures that you do not disturb the control layer and open your lawn up to more crabgrass growth in late spring and throughout the summer.
Aerating lawns in the fall typically pulls better cores as well. When soil is soft (but not muddy) it’s possible to pull cores several inches deep in most of your lawn. Pulling deeper cores greatly improves an aeration’s ability to relieve soil compaction.
Fall is also the ideal time of the year for overseeding. Typical weather conditions provides better seed germination and increases the chances of your new grass plants maturing before the next summer.
Should I Hire a Professional to Aerate My Lawn?Aeration and overseeding are two tasks you could do on your own, but it’s important that you communicate with your lawn care company if this is the route you take.
It’s important to take into account how time consuming and labor intensive aerating and seeding can be if you’re considering handling it on your own. Plus, it may be difficult to find an aerator to rent in your area, especially if everyone else in your neighborhood is looking for one too on that one sunny Saturday.
In many cases, it’s not much more expensive to hire a professional, and it’s definitely easier (and safer) to let someone else handle it for you. Letting a professional aerate your lawn also reduces the likelihood that you’ll damage your property, as damaging your lawn with a DIY aeration could mean spending more money fixing your own mistakes. Cutting underground irrigation, damaging invisible dog fences, and tearing up lawn areas on slopes are challenges that lawn care companies have foresight to avoid.
Lawn care companies have the skills, equipment and expertise to do a thorough job, which leads to better results in the long run. But are all lawn maintenance companies capable of performing an aeration on your property?
Our Approach to Aeration
Not all lawn aeration and overseeding services in Cincinnati are created equal. At Oasis Turf & Tree, we go the extra mile to ensure you’re getting the most from your lawn care program.
Instead of using a walk-behind machine like many companies (or the ones you would rent when doing it yourself), we use a ride-on machine that helps pull deeper cores from your lawn.
Our aeration services also includes two passes over your lawn, which helps alleviate more soil compaction. This method pulls more holes per square foot than the average walk-behind aerator, and many companies may be quick to cover the lawn once and hang a bill.
Our Approach to Overseeding
You also get what you pay for with seed mix, and the quality of your lawn starts with the quality of grass seeds you use during overseeding. Good grass seed isn’t measured by the packaging or even by the brand name.
Most seed mixes you find at your local home and garden store contain weed seeds, inert ingredients and less desirable grass types mixed within the bag. Unfortunately, even the desired seeds in the package may not be the best quality, with only 80 percent of them being certified to be able to germinate.
When overseeding your lawn, Oasis uses the highest performing seed blend. The improved variety of seed added to your lawn introduces more desirable types of grass, which helps provide better resistance against diseases and pests. Because this seed is certified to germinate better, it means more new grass plants than sub-par seed you may find on your own. Using our seed blend gets you much more for your money.
You’ll also receive an application of granular phosphorus during seeding, which helps the lawn’s existing root system as well as with the development of new grass seedlings.
Choosing the Best Company in Cincinnati to Aerate & Overseed Your Lawn
Regardless of whether you’re applying lawn care treatments on your own and just looking for some help for the heavy lifting, or if you’re looking for a comprehensive lawn care program, Oasis Turf & Tree can help you achieve the lawn you desire.
If you’d like to learn more about core aeration or how overseeding can improve your lawn, we would love to talk to you. Let’s discuss your concerns over the phone and we can also visit your property to evaluate your specific lawn care challenges.
Learn more about how Oasis Turf & Tree can help you improve your lawn with aeration and overseeding services in either Cincinnati, Dayton, or Northern Kentucky by requesting a free estimate.