When our clay based soil becomes compacted, it becomes difficult for grass roots to grow and for water and nutrients to penetrate it. This is especially true for lawns that receive a lot of traffic (kids, dogs, and even frequent mowing).
Lawns here in WNC will benefit from being core aerated, or “aerified” every few years. September or October is a good time to aerate.
Maximum root growth occurs in the fall, giving the grass the best opportunity to recover and expand its root systems quickly. It is also beneficial to aerify before applying lime or phosphate if those are needed.
With turn-around time on the NCDA soil tests being about 10 days this time of year, take this opportunity to do the soil test before applying fall amendments.
If you rent an aerator, be sure to get a “core aerator”, which pulls plugs of soil from the ground, not a “spiker”, which actually compacts the soil further. Benefits of aerating include:
enabling rain to penetrate more readily
improving moisture retention and reducing runoff
reducing fertilizer runoff and gaining maximum benefit from the nutrients
loosening soil to enable more extensive root growth
pruning roots stimulates new root growth
For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.