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Aerating the lawn: Aeration services in Nashville, Brentwood

Brentwood Landscapes offers high-quality lawn care services in Brentwood and surrounding areas. We also offer Nashville lawn care and landscaping maintenance, including lawn aeration (aka aerating the lawn), which gives the roots more oxygen and water penetration for more vigorous growth.

Soil compaction

aerated lawn in Nashville by brentwood landscapesProblems associated with soil compaction are often overlooked. Insects, diseases, nematodes, improper watering, and a lack of fertilizer are often blamed for a lawn’s decline when the real culprit is compaction. The problem starts when the top 4 inches of the soil become compressed, impeding the movement of air, water and nutrients to the grass roots. This stresses the grass plants, making them less able to compete with weeds and slow to recuperate from injury. In time a compacted lawn needs renovation.

Compacted soil contributes to the accumulation of thatch because restricted oxygen levels in highly compacted soils impair the activity of earthworms and other thatch-decomposing organisms. Left unmanaged, thatch can lead to serious maintenance and pest problems. Thatch accumulates faster on compacted soils and heavy clay soils than on well-aerified soils. Therefore, some lawns may require frequent aerification to aid in thatch control.

If soil is compacted, the solution is straightforward: call Brentwood Landscapes to aerify your lawn. The practice of physically removing cores of soil and leaving holes or cavities in the lawn is called core aeration.

Benefits of core aeration as part of lawn care service

  • Loosens compacted soil and increases the availability of water and nutrients
  • Enhances oxygen levels in the soil, stimulating root growth and enhancing the activity of thatch-decomposing organisms
  • While removing cores of soil, the spoons or tines also sever roots, rhizomes and stolons. Grass plants are stimulated to produce new shoots and roots that "fill up" the holes in the lawn and increase the density of the turf
  • Reduces water runoff
  • Increases the lawn’s drought tolerance and improves its overall health

When to aerate your lawn

brentwood lawn care services, NashvilleThe type of grass will determine whether to aerify in the fall or in the summer. Lawns composed of cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are best aerified in the fall, when there is less heat stress and danger of invasion by weedy annuals. Allow at least four weeks of good growing weather to help the plants recover. Warm-season grasses such as centipede grass, carpet grass, St. Augustine grass, and bermuda grass, on the other hand, are best aerified in late spring and summer, when they are actively growing. With either type of grass, choose a day when temperatures are mild and soil is moderately moist, which makes the soil easier to penetrate. Avoid aerifying a wet soil, as it is messy and leads to further compaction of the soil as well. If the soil sticks to your shoes or if the core sample you take sticks to your probe, you should wait until it dries out some before starting the job.

Frequency of lawn aeration

Aeration of home lawns corrects soil problems is generally required in Middle Tennessee on a yearly basis. One way to determine if aeration is needed is by scouting the lawn. Take a screwdriver and probe the soil. If the screwdriver penetrates the soil with little resistance, then you probably don’t need to aerify. If it is difficult to penetrate the soil with the screwdriver, then you may need to aerify. Make sure the soil is moist when testing the areas since dry soil can also be more difficult to penetrate.

Turfgrass in high traffic areas may need aerification more often than the rest of the lawn. Turfgrasses with low traffic tolerance such as centipede grass and St. Augustine grass may need aerifying more often than turfgrasses with good traffic tolerance, such as bermuda grass and zoysia grass. These high traffic areas can usually be done by "hand" as described in the next section.

Small areas

For a few dollars you can purchase a sod-coring tool that is easy to use and ideal for small areas. The sod-coring tool removes cores of soil from the lawn. The earthen plugs that are deposited on the lawn after each successive plunge actually benefit the lawn. They contain microorganisms that help to decompose any layers of thatch present.

Large areas

Aerifying larger lawns requires a power-driven core aerator or aerifier, which can be rented at lawn and garden supply centers. The working parts of these machines are spoon-shaped tines or hollow tubes. As the tubes are driven into the lawn, cores of soil are removed from the ground and strewn across the lawn. Both types of tines work equally well, but the hollow tine makes a somewhat cleaner hole than the spoon type and brings up less soil. The tine size varies up to three-quarters of an inch and in depth of penetration up to 3 inches, depending on the manufacturer’s specifications. The closer tine placement removes more soil, exposes more soil surface area for water and fertilizer movement and alleviates compaction quicker than the wider tine spacing.

Core penetration depth depends on soil type, soil moisture, tine diameter, as well as the weight and power of the aerifier. Soil cores should be left on the lawn to be broken up by rainfall and traffic. If their appearance bothers you, you can speed up their disappearance by raking them into the grass. Whichever machine you use, go over the lawn twice, once in one direction, and then in a perpendicular direction for best results.

Aerifying, reseeding Nashville lawns

Lawn aeration can be combined with seeding (aka overseeding), particularly on sparse or bare areas. If you are going to seed the lawn, you should make several passes over the area with a machine. You need to produce a number of holes, at least four inches apart, to improve the appearance and density of the stand. With a fraction of the effort and expense of tilling up the entire lawn, combining aerification with seeding will give the lawn a brand-new look.

Adapted from Southern Lawns: Best Management Practices for the Selection, Establishment and Maintenance of Southern Lawngrasses, EC 707, 2003


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Call Brentwood Landscapes today at 615.242.8294 or fill out our quick contact form for Brentwood lawn care and landscape services, Nashville area landscape design, and much more.

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