by Grady Cobb, OCNT • Maintenance Foreman
With fall finally upon us it’s time to button up and prepare everything for the inevitable cold, harsh winter season. Not only do we need to prepare our homes, cars, and other outdoor possessions for winter, but we also need to prepare our lawns for the cold season as well.
Fall core aeration is a great way to help prepare our lawns for the harsh winter season. You may ask how aerating a lawn prepares grass for the cold season. Here are three main reasons why aerating your lawn in the fall leads to your grass being better prepared for winter and healthier the following year. But before we get into the benefits of core aeration, let me first explain that it’s a mechanical process done with a machine that has one to three inch long spikes which extracts cores or cylinders of soil from the surface of the lawn.
Through this mechanical process your lawn reaps many benefits like compaction relief, improvement in root development, and helps reduce the thatch zone. Throughout the spring and summer months with all the foot and some mechanical traffic on your lawns the soil underneath becomes compacted making it more difficult for air, water, and essential nutrients for root development to penetrate into the soil. Aerating your lawns decreases the soil density while improving the air, water, and essential nutrients' access to the root system, which in turn improves your lawns overall thickness and disease resistance.
During the fall season, the lawn is switching gears from top growth to root growth, preparing itself for the winter season. This is the perfect time of year to aerate as root development is key to a great lawn. When you aerate you create little holes where roots at one point or time may have had trouble establishing through a compacted area.
Now, with the formally compacted area released the roots will have an easier path to establish themselves. Just below the grass leaf blades and above the root zone is an area where dead organic matter collects called the thatch layer. This is where insects like to live and breed causing damage to your lawn like army worms. When this thatch layer builds up to more than half an inch it can cause the prevention of essential nutrients from getting into the roots while also creating a nice cozy home for turf damaging insects. When you aerate the lawn this zone of dead organic matter gets reduced allowing essential nutrients to have an easier path into the soil.