Beautiful grass, green and even, well-mowed, watered after dusk every day – sounds like the American dream of lawns.

Let’s take a little walk. As we go around the borders of the green grass, we realize we have quite the walk ahead of us. There’s a lot of property here, and most of it has been sown with grass seeds. However, there are a few places where the winds from the plains have blown other kinds of grass seed in, leaving little stands of odd-colored grass or grass with longer stalks. That’s not what we’re looking for, though.

Ah! There we are. There’s water still left from yesterday’s watering (there hasn’t been rain for a few days) and a couple of small brown patches. Take a few steps closer, and get a feel for how your steps feel. Does it feel slightly more “bouncy” under your feet as you get closer to the standing water?

Those are signs of soil compaction – the combination of standing water, bouncy feeling, and brown spots. It could also be signs of thatch building up, but let’s hope not. Let’s take a tiny sample near the brown spots and see ourselves.

The sample shows compacted soil, but the thatch layer is still only about a half-inch thick, so it’s not causing problems yet. 

Let’s get your landscape partners, Divine Lawns, involved in this, and they will be the ones you call for help once the problem has been diagnosed. And, chances are good they’ve seen the problem and have plans to fix it.

Are there other symptoms?

Yes, there are. Let’s look at the most obvious and common symptoms that mean a lawn might need to be aerated.

  1. Seasons – If it’s fall, your lawn probably needs aeration. Some lawns need it in spring as well. Fall is the most common time because your lawn has had a whole summer to grow and compact the soil with kids running, pets roaming, and adults bare-footing across the grass. Once a year seems like the average compaction time.
  2. Can you see the mark of paths where the grass is slightly thinner? More than one person has taken the same path across the lawn or around the house. When you’re ready to hardscape pathways on your property, these will make a good guide, but for right now, it means the soil has probably been compacted in those areas.
  3. Your soil is clay soil – The houses and lawns are built on clay if you have a newer home. Clay soil is dense, and it doesn’t allow air, water, or nutrients into the roots of your lawn.
  4. Thatch – More than half an inch or so means you will need to aerate, but half an inch is pretty standard.
  5. Discolored grass – Brown spots like the ones we found when we went on our little walking tour.
  6. Water, standing in puddles – It means that the drainage in that area isn’t what it should be. The water can’t get through to the roots but just lays on top of the compacted soil, trying not to be infested with mosquitos or other insects. Frogs are probably ok.
  7. Grass has stopped growing – That’s pretty self-explanatory.
  8. Stick test – Choose something like a strong stick, a long screwdriver, or even a pencil. Stick it in the lawn and through the soil. Are you feeling a lot of resistance? That’s another sign the soil is compacted, and you probably need aeration.

What is Aeration? 

When it comes to lawns, aeration means using a tool or machine to add holes into the soil, deep enough to open a passage that will allow water, air, and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. The holes don’t need to be big, but they must be deep enough to get through the compacted soil and the thatch that might form.

Making the holes for aeration is only the first part of fixing the problem. Aeration is often coupled with seeding and light fertilization so that the nutrients are sure to reach the roots of the grass.

How to aerate

Yes, there is indeed more than one way to aerate your lawn. 

You can purchase a special rake and do the areas already known to need help by hand. However, this takes some muscle, and you will be targeting specific areas, so you may miss other areas that need aeration. 

Aeration boots can also be purchased, and aeration is accomplished by stepping across your lawn. The long spikes sticking out from the bottom of the boots make the holes for water, air, and nutrients, but you have to lift your leg high on every step to be effective. This can be tiring.

You can rent a machine. This will be a push model, something like the old push mowers. But, again, it will take muscle to move the machine along since this type is not powered by an engine or outside source. And again, you may be missing areas that need help.

Your other choice, and the most recommended, is to call for help. You already have a relationship with Divine Lawns, so give them a call. 

As we said before, chances are they probably noticed that there were troubled spots, and they will be happy to hear from you. They will do the job correctly, cover all the areas in trouble, and give you an honest opinion about the rest of your lawn. If it’s been more than a year since the whole lawn has been done, they will want to make sure the whole lawn gets done soon.

After aerating, the lawn will be reseeded, with a mild fertilizer included. A push seeder will spread the seeds and fertilizer fastest and most evenly. After seeding, a heaving watering will help move the seeds and fertilizer to where it’s needed most.

Your Divine Lawn pros will be keeping an eye on the lawn, watching to make sure it achieves good health.