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Don't Wait: Aerate

by Allison E. Beatty, All About Lawns Columnist

Grass can grow just about anywhere, but sometimes it needs a little help. This is particularly true if you have heavy, poor draining soil in your backyard. If your grass has more or less stopped growing by August every year, and the ground feels like it's made of granite, you should be aerating.

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Heat + Water + Gravity = Brown Grass

Left alone, grass will grow to be at least several feet high during the spring. And as the grass grows higher, the root network will grow deeper, breaking up the soil and allowing for good drainage. The deeper the root network, the better the grass is able to absorb water, and the better it is able to survive when the weather turns hot and dry. But we don't let grass grow to several feet high, and the result of our mowing is a diminished root network for our lawn. When the hot weather arrives we try to keep our lawn alive by watering it, but grass grows much more slowly the hotter it gets, and in very hot temperatures will even go dormant. Because the roots are also growing slowly and absorbing less water, the soil beneath the roots also absorbs irrigation water. This causes the soil to compress, which in turn stops root growth and eventually even causes your lawn's root network to shrink. The cycle repeats itself over and over until you're left with brown grass and rock-hard soil.

Lawn Aeration Breaks the Cycle

When you aerate your lawn, you're breaking up the soil, making it easier for your lawn's root network to spread. Plug aerators, which pull plugs of dirt out of the ground, also create more space for roots and soil, which slows soil compression. Aeration also improves drainage, allowing your lawn's root network to absorb more water. If your soil has a heavy clay composition, you should also put down gypsum pellets at a rate of 100 pounds per 1,000 square feet after you aerate each spring. The gypsum makes the clay more powdery and dramatically slows compression.

Grass won't grow on a rock. If your soil turns to rock every summer, turn the tables by aerating.



About the Author
Allison E. Beatty is a syndicated real estate writer and founder of the Web site Renovator's Place. She has been a writer of home improvement columns for 15 years. Her articles have appeared in numerous national newspapers and magazines, and on home improvement Web sites.



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