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What is a Lawn Aeration Machine?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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A lawn aeration machine is a device used to poke holes into a lawn to ease soil compaction and allow water and fertilizer to seep in easily. Typically constructed with several rows of steel wheels with long tangs or spokes protruding outward, the wheel assembly is commonly pulled behind a riding lawn mower or lawn tractor. The spokes poke down into the soil as the lawn aeration machine is being pulled, loosening the earth and providing easy access for water and fertilizer to reach the lawn's roots. Other versions of the lawn aeration machine can be found in self-propelled, purpose-built machinery as well as small devices worn on the soles of shoes that aerate the lawn as the wearer walks across the grass.

Some forms of lawn aeration machines are known as plug-type aerators, which actually remove small plugs of earth from the lawn. Many turf experts recommend using this type of lawn aeration machine only once every three years to avoid damaging the lawn. A blade- or spoke-style lawn aeration machine can be used annually with no harm to the lawn. Besides loosening compacted soil and allowing for ease of water drainage, the use of this machine will commonly reduce the amount of thatch under the grass.

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Prior to using a lawn aeration machine on any lawn, the grass should be cut very short. In most cases, the lawn will not be left with an aesthetically pleasing appearance with the plugs laying on top of the grass. The plugs should be left in place in order to receive the most benefit from the procedure. Similar to a farmer plowing a field, the removed plugs will melt into the ground and redistribute nutrients and chemicals found in the bottom layers of the lawn throughout the upper layers. Many professional landscaping contractors will use a mower to go over the lawn after using the lawn aeration machine in order to break up the tubes of earth and speed up the dissolving process.

Signs that a lawn will benefit from the aeration procedure include standing water on the lawn following a rain shower. Using a small length of wire or a large matchstick, individuals can test the lawn in several areas to monitor the ease in which it can be pushed into the soil. If the ground is too hard to allow the wire or matchstick to be easily pushed in or rain water stands in puddles in the yard following a rain, it is time to aerate the lawn. The best time to use a lawn aeration machine is in the spring or fall, but any time the lawn is moist is a good time.

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