aerate


ugly lawn pic logoEven though summer is winding down, it doesn’t mean it’s time to neglect your landscape. In fact, there are still many things you need to be doing to help keep your outdoors looking its best.

test tubesLet’s start with the flowers. Most of the blooming will be done for your spring and summer plants, so take note of what worked in your garden and purchase more for next spring. Store them in a cool, dry place until the weather gets cooler, then plant away! But, before you plant, you need to do a soil pH test. You may want to also test your vegetable garden if you don’t plan on fertilizing for any late crops. You should also divide your spring and summer blooming perennials.

brown patchIf you happen to have warm season grass, you can still be dealing with lawn disease such as brown patch and dollar spot, so keep your eyes open and treat accordingly. White grubs can also be present in your soil, and while the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis does a nice job on them, it does take some time for it to build up. Warm season lawns along with hollies can also be afflicted with spittlebugs.

????????????????????????????????????????????Different lawn types are going to require different treatments. Fescue (cool season) turf should be fertilized, aerated, and overseeded. Do not fertilize warm season grass! The planting of cool season lawns is best done between September 15-October 15. It’s best to hold off until next spring for warm season grasses. Henbit and nutsedge (nutgrass) may become a problem. Both can be controlled through herbicide, though nutsedge is a bit more difficult. Irrigation clocks may need to be adjusted as less water is going to be required.

web wormPecan trees may see webworms who should have started appearing in late August. There are both natural and pesticide controllers for this problem. Natural remedies include removing the affected branch and throwing away to handpicking the webworms off and drowning them in soapy water. For pesticide use, Carbaryl (Sevin, etc.) is a good product to rid the lower parts of the tree of webworm (please don’t try to reach the very tops!) The trees can also be afflicted with pecan weevils–little critters that make holes in the pecans.

plantsAnd finally, while we’re on trees, your may see leaves starting to fall. You can compost the leaves, till them into any fallow beds or vegetable garden, or have them blown and removed. Any trees and shrubs that you may want to plant should be planned for now, especially if you don’t want to miss out on them. There are plenty of nurseries around, but their supply is not endless.

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Besides regular watering and mowing, one of the best things you can do to keep a healthy lawn is to aerate it. There are many benefits to this turf task, from allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach the roots, to reducing soil compaction and water runoff. If you’re wondering how to aerate, when, and why, we’re going to break it down for you.

There are a few ways to aerate a lawn, from simple spikes (we know you’ve seen those crazy shoes!) to using a machine that pulls out plugs of soil. While both work, they are not equal in how effective they are. The shoe, hand, push, drum, towing, and mowing spiked aerators are cheaper, but you will need to aerate more often because the holes close up faster than the plugs and could actually compact the soil more.

spike shoes

Aerators that remove small plugs of soil are known as core aerators. By removing the soil, more air, water, and nutrients get to the roots and there is more room for the roots to expand. The holes are also a great place for seed to go and be protected when overseeding a lawn or for fertilizer to get closer to the roots. There’s less risk of the seeds and fertilizer being washed or blown away.

Aerate illustration

Some reasons to aerate have already been mentioned, but let’s really be thorough here in listing ALL of the benefits.
1. By allowing oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the roots, it encourages them to grow deeper and thicker.

2. More water is absorbed by the soil, reducing runoff.

3. Deeper and thicker roots means thicker turf.

4. Healthier turf and better water absorbability means less watering.

5. Your lawn will become more durable and resistant to foot traffic.

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6. Thatch is reduced.

7. It makes it easier for the lawn to breathe.

8. It helps prevent grubs from harming your lawn.

9. Growth is stimulated.

10. Deeper roots means better access to water, making the turf more drought resistant.

11. A healthy, thick lawn produces more oxygen.

12. Reduction in lawn disease due to unabsorbed water sitting on top.

puddle

So now you know the why and how in regards to aerating a lawn, but you need to know the when. It all depends on the type of grass, your soil, and other conditions. It seems to be a general consensus that aerating should be done once a year unless your turf has issues from being located on a hill or trampled on by pets and children. If you find that your turf has slow or stunted growth, even after fertilizing it, chances are the soil is too hard and compacted, preventing root growth. Your lawn needs to be aerated. If you find water just running off or pooling and not being absorbed, and you have clay soil, you should get an aeration done. Lawns that get a lot of traffic, have a lot of thatch, or are growing in very hard soil, should be aerated to alleviate the problems and encourage deeper root growth for thicker turf.

Unless you have any of the listed problems we just mentioned, you should find that aerating your warm season grass in the spring, around May, and cool season in the fall, around September, should be enough to maintain healthy growth year round.