Compacted soil can wreck havoc on your lawn as it reduces tiny air pockets in the soil, preventing the grassís roots from getting the air it requires to thrive. It also reduces water percolation and nutrient uptake of the roots and presents an impenetrable barrier to root growth. Soil compaction may occur as a result of foot and/or vehicle traffic and it is especially prevalent in poorly drained or wet soil. If soil becomes too compact the lawn will deteriorate and eventually begin to die off. A lawn aerator can prevent this from happening.
There are two types of lawn aerators: spike aerators and core aerators. Since a spike aerator simply stabs the ground without extracting any soil it is largely ineffective and may even contribute to compaction. A core aerator is a more beneficial choice. Core aerators use long, hollow tines that actually pull a plug of soil back out of the ground, creating a space for air and water to penetrate the soil. Soil cores are left on the ground to help decompose grass clippings and thatch. A gas-powered core aerator is the most efficient way to accomplish the job. A professional landscaper can come and aerate your lawn once or twice a year or you can rent an aerator and easily aerate the lawn yourself. If you own a tractor or lawn tiller, you may be able to purchase an attachment that will convert it into a core aerator.
Not only does effective lawn aeration increase water, nutrient and oxygen penetration in the soil and encourage healthy root growth, but it stimulates the activity of micro-organisms in the soil, helping to quickly break down thatch. It may also work to prevent applications of fertilizer and pesticide from running off by allowing it to be more readily absorbed into the soil. Lawn aeration is a necessary part of any lawn care regimen.