When spring has sprung, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of potential gardening and home improvement projects to take on. As flowers bloom and you get ready to enjoy the spring sunshine in your backyard, you may start to notice the imperfections in your landscape.
If a long winter has you scrambling to boost your lawn’s health at the last minute, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’s one spring lawn chore you can skip this year!
What is Aeration?
When we ask homeowners the last time they had their lawn aerated, we find that many of them don’t know what aeration is, or why aeration and seeding is beneficial.
Over time, your soil naturally becomes compacted. Hot sun, hard rain, and months of mowing can lead to a layer of thatch – organic matter made up of dead grass and roots that collects at the base of the living grass on your lawn – making it difficult for oxygen, water, and other nutrients to get to the roots of your grass.
Aeration can improve the health of your grass, allowing roots to grow deeper and stronger. By punching through thatch build-up and improving your grass' access to nutrients, aeration can protect your landscape from disease and harsh weather, promoting fresh growth that gives you a healthier, more resilient lawn.
Most importantly, aeration makes seeding more effective, allowing for better seed-to-soil contact for better germination and growth.
It sounds great – right? But if you live in Maryland or Virginia, aerating and seeding your lawn in spring can actually do more harm than good!
Why is Spring Aeration and Seeding Less Effective For My Lawn?
Aerating and seeding your Maryland or Virginia lawn in the spring can actually make your spring and summer lawn care more difficult! Seeding after aeration in the spring can be less effective for several reasons:
Your lawn is more vulnerable to disease in the spring. With April showers (or May showers!) comes increased spread of fungus and disease. Aerating in the spring opens the roots of your grass up to a host of moisture-related problems.
Seeds planted in spring have a lower survival rate. Seeds planted in the spring often don’t have deep enough roots to survive our hot summers.
Spring aeration helps everything grow – even weeds! Grassy weeds thrive under the same conditions as grass seed, meaning you’re not just creating an environment where grass can grow quickly – you’re opening your lawn up to a free-for-all!
Along those same lines, pre-emergent herbicides can’t tell the difference between weeds and your grass seed. This means that any weed control efforts you’re taking on in the spring will kill off most of your fresh growth.
While special circumstances might lead to a recommendation for early season seeding services, it’s not recommended for the regular maintenance of your lawn.
When Should I Aerate Instead?
Aerating and seeding your lawn in late summer or early fall will give you thicker, denser grass – which is why we recommend fall seeding be done between mid-August and October 1.
Most grass in Maryland and Northern Virginia is cool season turf. These grasses slow their growth in the fall before becoming dormant in winter. We get a lot of questions from our clients about the role fall aeration and seeding can play in their overall lawn health, but there are lots of benefits, including:
Fall Aeration and Seeding Improves Healthy Root Growth
Cool season grasses may slow down in fall, but here in Maryland and Northern Virginia, the soil stays warm into November. This means that below the surface, grass roots will continue to grow. When you seed in the fall, your grass has easier access to fertilizer, nutrients, and water, so the roots can grow deeper into the soil and give you a stronger, more resilient lawn.
Fall Aeration and Seeding Prepares Your Lawn for Winter
We’re no strangers to snow and ice during the wintertime, but if you’re not giving your lawn the tools it needs to survive, our cold weather can take a toll on your grass. Lawns that are tired and dry after a long summer of use often don’t survive the cold, meaning you have to invest even more money in spring to revive your grass and fix brown patches.
Aerating your Maryland or Virginia lawn in the fall revitalizes it before dormancy, making new seedlings better equipped to handle chilly winters and setting your lawn up to thrive when next spring arrives!
Fall Aeration and Seeding Encourages Fresh Growth
Grass can survive for a few years, but fresh growth is still important to the overall look and feel of your lawn. Without fresh growth, large sections of your grass can die off all at once, leaving bare patches. Seeding in the fall encourages fresh growth of healthy grass, keeping your lawn thicker and healthier from year to year.
This year, skip the spring aeration and seeding, kick back and relax! Better yet – give Blades of Green a call and we can take it off your hands this fall!