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Home » Blog » Aerators » Reasons to Aerate Your Grounds
Anyone who performs grounds maintenance on commercial lawns or turf knows that keeping the grass green and healthy can be a challenge. Applying products such as fertilizers and seed to the surface of the lawn can only do so much – it’s important to get into the soil to reduce compaction and enhance air exchange. Ground aeration is the solution to this problem. Knowing the benefits of ground aeration can help improve your soil health immensely. Commercial aerators from TurfTime Equipment make turf stronger, improving its appearance and making it a safer surface on which to work and play.
Maintaining the grounds in an area with heavy traffic comes with a unique set of challenges. Visitors to parks and sports fields want to see an abundance of vigorous, green grass. However, even the average homeowner knows that trampling the grass can lead to its downfall.
To understand this, it helps to familiarize yourself with the way that healthy soil supports plants. Only about half of the soil’s volume is made of dirt particles and organic material. The other half consists of pore space. These tiny chambers let air and water move freely, nourishing the grass from the bottom up.
Crushing the pore space can also make soil dangerous to play on. The air pockets lend softness to the soil. When those open cavities are compressed, the soil becomes rock hard, creating suboptimal conditions that can cause injury to anyone playing on the grass.
Over time, roots have trouble pushing through the resistance from the compacted dirt. This becomes evident when you look at the field. Grass may become dry, light in color and patchy. Hard, bare spots may develop, reducing the cushioning that the turf provides.
In addition, water has trouble sinking into compacted soil. Instead of being absorbed, it pools on the surface, creating slick spots. It may also drain inconsistently, leading to soggy areas and erosion.
Many people assume that tilling can reduce compaction. However, as lumps of soil are broken down, they transform into fine particles that are more likely to squeeze together and cramp the natural air pockets. Plus, tilling can damage existing grass.
In contrast, ground aeration penetrates firm soil, creating open channels without destroying the turf. Doing this helps the dirt maintain its structure while generating pockets that absorb water and bring nutrients back to the plants’ roots.
The remaining particles of minerals and organic materials settle into those holes over time, spreading out and bringing cushioning back to the turf.
With the empty space the aerators create in the soil, grass roots have room to grow. Longer, stronger roots lead to lush, plentiful blades of grass.
An ample root network also absorbs water more efficiently. With proper aeration and ground maintenance, you’ll need to irrigate less and have fewer drainage problems.
In the absence of oxygen, fungi can flourish in the dirt. Fungal infections can destroy the roots. If you’ve been having trouble keeping these microbes at bay with topical applications, you may need to use aeration to address the source of the issue.
Using the right equipment will improve the results of your grounds maintenance. Close tine spacing and deep penetration often produce resilient turf.
Core aeration involves using hollow tines that puncture the soil and pull out small plugs. These chunks of dirt are usually left on top of the grass. They break down over time, replenishing the grass. With deep tine aeration, solid spikes are typically utilized to puncture the turf, although hollow tines may also be used.
Core aeration with hollow tines is ideal for:
• Reducing compaction in the top 3 inches of soil
• Creating a mulch at the surface that improves breakdown of thatch
• Mixing distinct soil layers
• Improving the soil in the off season, when turf has more time to recuperate
Deep tine aeration uses longer prongs and offers several benefits, including:
• Better penetration of extremely hard soils
• Deep water drainage
• Heals more quickly than core aeration
• Less disruptive than removing plugs
Although home lawns should generally be aerated yearly, parks, playgrounds, golf courses, sports fields and other heavily trodden grasses may need to be aerated more often. It’s not unusual to treat a golf course or soccer field up to five times in a 12-month period.
Aeration times depend on the location, weather, traffic patterns and type of grass. Turf will recover more quickly during ideal growing conditions. Warm-season grasses should not be aerated while they’re dormant or weeds could proliferate. You should aerate those after the first spring mowing.
Proper maintenance is one of the keys to maintaining perfect turf. Aerating healthy grass is preferable to tackling the project when the plants are already compromised.
Here at TurfTime Equipment, our aim is to help you prepare your fields to improve their appearance, reduce labor and minimize cost. We offer several different series of aerators, each with their own unique models and features. Contact us today for the best equipment and advice about maintaining your turf.
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