As the summer fades away and the kids go back to school, it’s good to start thinking about what lies ahead for your landscaping. Two important maintenance practices should happen every fall in Northern Virginia: core aeration and overseeding. Even though some homeowners ignore these steps, they are arguably the two most important things you can do to enhance the quality of your lawn.
What is core aeration?
Core aeration is the process of removing tiny plugs – or cores – from your lawn. Usually done with a machine, the cores are roughly ½ to ¾ of an inch in diameter and 1 to 6 inches long. The holes are typically 2 to 6 inches apart, depending on the aeration machine used.
Another method of aeration called spiking involves pushing spikes into the ground without removing any cores. We do not recommend this method because it actually contributes to further lawn compaction and not aeration.
Why should you aerate your lawn?
Core aeration eases turf compaction. In Northern Virginia, the majority of our soil is mixed with native red clay. This clay is dense and heavy, making it hard for water, nutrients, and air to flow into the ground. Aeration alleviates that density and makes it easier for the grass to get what it needs to grow strong and healthy. It basically gives your grass room to breathe – and eat and drink.
Another common problem that aeration solves is heavy thatch. Thatch is the blanket of tightly connected roots, stems, and leaves – both living and dead – that lays on top of your turf, just below the grass blades. It is beneficial to your lawn when it stays thinner than ¾ of an inch, but once it gets thicker than that, it actually harms your grass. The blanket blocks out sunlight, obstructs water and nutrients, and promotes disease. Core aeration breaks up the thatch, allowing essential water and minerals into the lawn.
What is overseeding?
Overseeding is the practice of sowing new seed into your existing grass. It can be done by using a mechanical slit-seeder, which cuts tiny furrows for planting the seed through the thatch, or after core aeration. If executed in concert with core aeration, the seed is often spread using a cyclone-type seeder.
Why should you overseed your lawn?
As turf ages, it becomes more susceptible to diseases and insects. When you overseed, you can mix newer turfgrass varieties into your lawn. In addition to being disease and insect resistant, these new varieties have been engineered to withstand:
- Heavy foot traffic
This new grass will make your lawn healthier and more stable as a whole, which means less watering and less fertilizing. It will also make your turf look fuller and thicker.
It is important that your landscape fall maintenance tasks should include core aeration and overseeding. They are well worth the time and effort to keep your Northern Virginia lawn healthy and beautiful. Contact Sunrise Landscape & Design to schedule your fall maintenance. Your lawn will thank you.