Lawn Aeration in South Carolina Lawns

Cameron Huntley - Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Aerating your lawn is an important management tool to help keep it performing at an optimum level.  While lawn aeration has many benefits, it must be performed at the proper time or it could do more harm than good.  Lawn aeration should be scheduled during the time the grass is most actively growing.  The time of the year your grass is most actively growing will depend on your location and grass type.

In South Carolina, we have several different grasses that are used for residential and commercial turf.  The most common grass types include Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, and Fescue.  Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda are considered warm-season grasses.   They are most actively growing when night time temperatures are consistently above 65º F.  In South Carolina this generally occurs after May 15th and continues throughout the summer months.  Warm-season grass should not be aerated during the fall, winter, or early spring as they are not active enough to recover from mechanical injury.

The other grass type found in South Carolina is Fescue and is considered a cool-season grass.  Fescue is most actively growing during the spring and fall months.  Fescue responds favorably to temperatures that are around 60º F at night and 80ºF during the day.  This is an ideal time to aerate Fescue because it has the obelial to recover from mechanical injury.  Many turf managers prefer to aerate Fescue in the fall, because this is an ideal time to apply additional seed to areas that may have died out over the summer.  Aeration loosens and improves the soil to help new seedlings take root.

There are several benefits of lawn aeration.  This first benefit is that aeration allows air to be funneled to the root zone of the lawn.  Roots need oxygen in order to survive and take up necessary nutrients and water.  Aeration is a very important management practice to make sure roots can function properly.  Lawn aeration can also relieve compaction in soils and improve how water and nutrients move throughout the root zone.  Finally, aeration helps reduce thatch in lawns that can build up and restrict water and nutrient movement in the root zone.  Thatch also elevates the crown tissues in grass that make them more vulnerable to drought and temperature stress.

Lawn aeration should be at least 3-4" deep.  This will ensure that the root zone of the grass receives all the benefits that come along with lawn aeration.  Hollow tine aerators work best for removing thatch and loosening soil.

There are several types of weeds that are good indicators of lawns that may be suffering from compacted soils that are in need of aeration.  Goosegrass (summer annual weed) and annual bluegrass (winter annual weed) have the ability to survive in soils that are low in oxygen due to compaction.  If you have had a problem getting grass to establish and these weeds are the only ones surviving in your lawn, you may need to aerate your lawn to get a proper establishment of grass.  Consult the W.P. Law Weed Management Guide for help identifying these two weeds.

Proper aeration can help your lawn perform to its full ability when scheduled properly.  For additional questions regarding lawn management practices, consult your local W.P. Law Inc. store located throughout South Carolina or contact us via this website.

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