DC, Maryland, and Virginia rank as one of the most highly competitive markets in the United States for property owners, making it extremely important to stand out in the crowd of competitors vying for the same market share. One of the biggest things that potential tenants, clients, and renters notice is the condition of the properties green space. When deciding where to live, shop, or work natural green space has become an important factor and donning a lush green space may be enough to tip the odds in your favor.
Keep in mind, there is a certain amount of planning and budget allocation required to create and maintain these desirable green spaces. The reality is lawns need more than regular mowing and an occasional weed treatment. The best lawns also have aeration services included as part of an annual turf care program.
Healthy soil has large and small pore spaces that allow air and water to be readily available to the turf roots. Over time, soils beneath the lawns can become compacted reducing the number or size of these pore spaces resulting in a decline in the overall health of the turf. How do soils become compacted? In the case of most commercial properties, compaction is a result of heavy usage (i.e. public spaces, pedestrian paths, recreational green space, etc). Soil compaction can also be a result of a lack of topsoil following new building or development. Compaction can be alleviated by aerating the soil to rejuvenate the pore spaces.
How does Aeration Work?
Aerating is the process of using a machine to remove “cores” of soil that are approximately 2-3” in length. The cores are deposited on the soil surface and what is left behind are small holes or tunnels that penetrate below the soil surface. These holes allow better penetration of air, water, and nutrients to the lawn root zones. Those cores that get removed during the process will break down into smaller particles and are safe to leave in place following the aeration process.
Is Aeration Alone Enough to Improve My Lawns?
Aeration is one of many turf renovation techniques that can improve the health and density of lawn areas. Aeration is most effective when used as part of a program that incorporates overseeding, liming as needed to adjust soil pH, and fertilization. As lawns are aerated, direct access to the soil in the root zone of the turf is opened up making the other renovation services more effective. When seeding at the same time, the seed has a better chance of going into the soil as opposed to laying on top of the soil surface and possibly washing away or being eaten by birds. Applying fertilizer or lime in conjunction with the aeration process would reap the same benefits. The fertilizer particles would have more direct contact with the turf root zone than simply fertilizing alone.
Is Aeration Good for Every Soil Type?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that the frequency of the aerations needed varies by soil type. In general, clay-based soils are heavy and sticky so they compact easier. These types of soils should be aerated annually. Sand-based soils tend to be less dense and they do compact, but it takes longer. Sandy soils could be aerated annually, but most likely really don’t need to be aerated more frequently than every other year.
When Should Aeration Occur?
Aeration can be performed in spring or in fall. Spring aeration can be good for heavily stressed lawns. By loosening the soil early in the spring, natural rains will better penetrate the root zone and can aid in the absorption of spring fertilizers. The downside is that spring aeration can sometimes stir up dormant weed seeds that will now have more advantageous conditions for germination. In the case of programs that incorporate aeration and overseeding at the same time, it is better to do these services in fall. Seeding in spring means supplemental watering to nurse newly germinated lawn through the summer. Fall seeding is often more advantageous because cooler nighttime temperatures and natural rains are ideal to help the turf establish before the cold temperatures of winter when lawns are naturally dormant.
If you are not sure if you should be aerating the lawns at your commercial property, now is the best time to find out. Give us a call today if you would like one of our turf specialists to assess your lawn and recommend renovation services.