Lawn Aeration Gives Property Landscapes Room to Breathe

 

High-density living can seem a bit crowded at times, and the same goes true for landscapes. Even those spacious green areas scattered about apartment dwellings and gathering centers that provide respites for residents need a breather.

A key to maintaining a healthy apartment property landscape is periodic lawn aeration and other soil areas where compaction, whether the result of the inhabitants or the natural course of nature, occurs. Aeration is the process of opening and loosening soil that is compacted or hardened to enable a better supply of oxygen and absorption of natural nutrients. Simply, parts of the soil are pulled out or punctured, leaving small holes for air and essentials to strong plant growth to penetrate.

The process helps create more space for roots to grow and keeps lawns from seeming they are in decline. The landscape literally breathes much easier and becomes invigorated, while also increasing drought tolerance.

Lawn aeration has been a standard landscape practice for many years. The golf industry is probably most known for the practice, punching holes in greens to keep them from becoming hard and bouncy. Anybody who walks up to a green and sees hundreds of holes punctured into the surface has seen a perfect example of aeration.

Lawn Aeration Rescues Suffocating Soil

When the roots are unable to receive adequate oxygen, grass growth is restricted. More often than not, grass won’t get any higher than an inch-and-a-half tall if the top 4 inches of soil are compacted. Weeds may start to move in on grass that can’t receive enough oxygen, or, in extreme cases, the lawn may die. The lawn ultimately becomes vulnerable and unhealthy in appearance.

In some cases, a compacted lawn may appear to be in sad shape because of a perceived lack of fertilizer, watering or invasion of insects or disease. In fact, compaction is the culprit. Lawns that have clay bases are most likely to compact and do not show any signs of distress until the ground becomes too firm.

High-traffic areas ̶ like those around the clubhouse, pool or mail centers ̶ are typically prime candidates for aeration because the soil gets compacted as residents walk and play. These areas should include those where residents have created a path, such as from the parking lot.

Signs that your Apartment Landscape Needs Aeration

A tell tale sign that the landscape needs to be aerated is when water won’t percolate into the ground. Absorption of rainwater or moisture from irrigation will be slower than normal, and in warmer temperatures may evaporate. A thirsty lawn never looks good.

Another sign that aeration is needed is when thatching begins on the lawn. This is the process when dead grass begins to amass, increasingly the likelihood of creating damaging fungus or pest control issues.

Also, if the grass doesn’t seem to be growing very fast after normal irrigation, feeding and weed control, aeration is likely needed.

Different Types of Lawn Aeration

The two major types of aeration are through tyne and core processes. Tyne aeration is putting holes in the ground through a series of spikes, similar to tenderizing a steak with a fork. The soil remains in place and the openings are smaller.

Core aeration is when soil is actually removed in tube-like fashion, enabling more room for oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the lawn. Typically, core aeration is more time consuming and expensive, and usually done to lawns in serious need. Machines with big, spiked rollers pulled by tractors are used to puncture the landscape.

Preparing your Property for Lawn Aeration

Depending on the type of grass, aeration can be done either in Spring or Fall. Bluegrasses and fescues, for example, should be aerated in cool temperatures, such as now. Grasses that grow best in warmer climates should be aerated in the spring.

The most critical thing that a property must do to prepare for aerating the lawn is flag parts of the landscape – like sprinkler heads and water meter boxes – that can be damaged by machines. Core aerating will go 2-4 inches below ground and damage sprinkler heads and irrigation pipes that are not buried very deep.

Electrical boxes need to be shut off and clearly marked, as do water meter shutoff boxes.

Just Add Sand

If core aeration is done, sand should be raked over the surface to fill the holes. This reduces the chance for holes to refill with compacted clay and become self-impacted. By doing so, the lawn will show noticeable improvement faster.

As apartments continue to compete for lease dollars, a well-manicured landscape is essential. And aeration is a key ingredient to keeping lawns healthy and inviting.

Even lawns like to breathe easy.

 

Image Source: Wikimedia

 

 


President, Earthworks

author photo two

Chris Lee is President of Dallas, Texas-based Earthworks, which specializes in multifamily housing landscaping. He is a contributing author to Landscape Management magazine, licensed irrigation specialist and a Toro Intellisense certified technician. Chris studied business at the University of Arkansas from 1990-94 and horticulture and landscape design at Tarrant County College from 1999-01. He has been employed at Earthworks since 1998.

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