If your organic lawn isn’t looking its best and water is having trouble penetrating the soil, it’s probably a good idea to do some aeration. Aeration is basically the process of pulling approximately 1”x2” cores of soil out of your lawn and it is a key step proper organic lawn treatment. Aeration is beneficial to your organic lawn because it reduces turf compaction, reduces thatch buildups, and improves the soil penetration for both water and nutrients. It is also a necessary step before topdressing (adding topsoil to an existing lawn) your lawn.
An organic lawn requires aeration when the soil becomes compacted and the grass roots only reach one to two inches into the soil. A lawn that has heavy “thatch” (thatch is the layer of alive and dead grass between the green grass leaves up top and the dirt down below) is also an indication of compacted soil. Lawns that are rich in clay should be aerated more than sandy lawns but either way, aerating about once a year is a good idea. Once the lawn soil is aerated, your organic lawn will be much healthier, greener, and lush.
There are loads of local lawn service companies that will be more than happy to aerate your lawn for a fee but it’s usually a lot more economical to aerate the lawn yourself. Most large box stores have gas powered motors for rent but these aren’t cheap either and they can get to be well over 300 lbs. I used a hand held manual aerator (Fiskars Coring Aerator) which I found on sale at a local garden supply outlet. It took me a few evenings of leisurely aerating and drinking beer but it saved me some serious cash.
Regardless of the method chosen, the aeration will always be more effective when nice sized cores are removed. When a simple spike aerator is used, the holes tend to close up a lot faster requiring more frequent aeration. Removing cores from the lawn allows longer access to more space and nutrients for the roots.
Before you start the aeration on your organic lawn, be sure to water your lawn thoroughly for a few days. This is especially important for the hand held manual aerator, unless you want a serious workout over the next week or two.
After aeration is complete, you’ll probably want to water a bit more for encouragement as well as apply some organic fertilizer along with compost or peat moss to complete your organic lawn treatment.