Aerating and overseeding your lawn is important for its health, but you have to perform these tasks at the right time for them to be as effective as possible. The best time to aerate and overseed your lawn depends on the type of grass you have. If you have warm-season grasses, then late spring is the best time. For cool-season grasses that are more commonly planted in the West, early spring or early fall is the best time. These grasses include Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass and fescue. Here is a closer look at these two procedures and how they can help.
What Is Aeration and Why It Matters
Healthy grass requires air, water, and nutrients at the roots. As the grass grows year after year, the roots can become quite dense, and a layer of thatch also develops over the top of the soil. This, combined with compaction of the soil, makes it difficult for the air and water to reach below the soil line and to the roots.
Aeration pokes small holes in the soil to allow the air and nutrients to reach the roots, so they can grow deeper. The result is a stronger turf with more vigorous growth. Without aeration, your lawn cannot grow well.
Aeration needs to happen during periods of high growth, but when the lawn is not under any stress. This is why the type of grass determines the best time to aerate. If you are aerating in the spring, wait until you have mowed the lawn a few times before aerating, so you can be certain the turf is in a good growing cycle. For fall aeration, tackle the job early before the lawn needs to go dormant for winter. Finally, plan to aerate your lawn at least one time per year, but twice if you have high clay content or high traffic areas where soil compaction is a big risk. For more location-specific tips, see our spring lawn care guide.
Plug Aeration vs. Spike Aeration
As you plan to aerate your lawn, it’s useful to understand the difference in the two aeration tools available. The first, a spike aerator, has a solid tine that pokes holes in the ground. The second, a plug aerator, actually removes a small plug of soil and grass from the lawn. While both types of aerator do the job, plug aeration is the more effective of the two options. Look for one that removes plugs 0.5 to 0.75 inches in diameter spaced about two to three inches apart.
What is Lawn Overseeding and Why Your Lawn Could Need It
When planning for lawn maintenance, overseeding is another important thing to tackle. Overseeding, or reseeding, adds new grass seed over your existing turf. This process helps fill in thin spots and make the lawn lusher and healthier.
How can you tell if your lawn needs overseeding? Look for signs of stress, such as thin patches, tired looking lawn, or poor color. If you have cool season grass, then your lawn will have a greater tendency to benefit from overseeding.
If your lawn could benefit from overseeding, the best time to tackle the job is right after aerating. The seeds have an easier time taking root when the surface of the soil and the thatch are disrupted, and you will see better results. See our healthy lawn thatch guide for more dethatching tips.
Watering After Aeration
Keeping your lawn hydrated after aeration and seeding is important to make your efforts pay off. It is important to find the balance between just enough water and too much water. An overwatered lawn can cause your soil to shift or make the new seed run off before it has had the chance to germinate.
It is important to water your lawn the night before you aerate to loosen up the soil and prime it for aeration. After aeration, you will likely need to change your watering schedule for several weeks. For the first two weeks the soil needs to be kept moist to allow the seed to germinate. Every lawn is different, but a good starting point is to water every morning for 15-20 minutes. Three to four weeks after seeding, decrease watering to 3-4 times per week. After about a month, the lawn should have had a chance to establish itself and it is safe to cut the lawn as needed and return to your normal watering schedule.
Get Professional Help for Aeration and Overseeding
Lawn aeration and overseeding are important parts of your overall lawn care plan. If you are looking for professional help with these processes, so you can always be certain they are performed at the right time, reach out to the team at Senske. Contact us today for a free estimate for aeration, overseeding, and other lawn care tasks.