Lawn Care 101: Aeration vs. Dethatching

How do you know when it’s time to aerate or dethatch your lawn? Both are common procedures in lawn care, but the purpose of each is very different. We’ve got all the details below, so read on to become an expert in your own lawn’s health.

Why is Aeration Important for Lawn Care?
lawn aerationYour lawn’s surface can become hard and compacted over time, which compresses the roots and suffocates them. Aeration is important to give the root system air and nutrients to promote a healthy, deep-rooted lawn. This is done by removing small plugs of grass and soil to de-compact the soil, allowing it to receive air, water and nutrients.

Aeration is essentially punching holes in the ground to let the soil breathe. Once aeration is completed, the plugs of turf are left on the lawn to decompose, returning beneficial nutrients to the soil so your grass roots can grow and spread.

Why is Dethatching Important for Lawn Care?
Lawn DethatchingA lawn is made up of three layers: grass above ground, roots below the soil, and a middle layer of thatch composed of leaves, grass, clippings, etc. Thatch is healthy in moderation, but a thick layer can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching the lawn’s roots; suffocating the roots and killing the grass.

Dethatching combs out the thatch layer, so it can be removed from the lawn. A dethatching machine with blades will tear away the thatch layer and bring organic matter to the surface, where it can be raked off the lawn.

How to Know if You Need to Aerate or Dethatch
Aeration is generally recommended once per year for most lawns, usually in the Spring or early Fall. If you have heavy levels of clay in your soil, twice per year may be recommended. Dethatching is done on an as-needed basis and can be avoided altogether if lawns are properly aerated and fed; which allows the thatch to break down naturally.

But the easiest way to know if your lawn needs help is to go outside and feel the ground.

If the ground feels hard, grab a screwdriver. If the screwdriver is difficult to push into the ground, it’s time to aerate your lawn.

If the ground feels spongey and bouncy to the touch, take a close look at your grass. You should see a layer of growth between the grass roots and shoots. If you can’t easily break through this layer with your finger, it’s time to dethatch your lawn because nutrients and air won’t be able to break through the thatch either. The thatch layer should never be thicker than three quarters of an inch.

At Hart Property Maintenance, we’re always happy to help you with lawn care services like these. If you need a little more help, please feel free to give us a call. But if you have aerated or dethatched on your own before, share your tips with others in the comments below!

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