September is “LAWN MONTH” in the Midwest and Northeastern US and here you will find my entire blog explaining why.
But let’s just use the “KISS PRINCIPLE” (keep it simple stupid) and dumb-it-down to doing one thing well every September.
It’s likely the most important thing you can do for a lawn that’s being fertilized several times per year: CORE AERATION
While visiting my local Home Depot last weekend, I noticed they had two Ryan aerators for rent, the type you want, that pulls soil plugs (cores). The rental agent said they rent for “about $100 per day.”
Aerating your lawn once a year, and leaving those soil plugs on the lawn surface, will help keep your lawn free of thatch problems. Thick thatch was the demise of many lawns we renovated over the years – it’s often the result of heavy fertilization and certain grass species like the ones you find in sod (Kentucky Bluegrass in the northern US).
To save money, you could always kick-in on the rental fee with a couple neighbors and have a neighborhood “Aeration Party!”
Ideally the soil should be moist but not muddy, that way the hollow tines on the machine can easily penetrate the ground without having a muddy mess when you’re done. In any case, you will probably want to limit lawn foot traffic for a couple weeks until the soil cores breakdown into the lawn surface (not a good idea right before Halloween trick-or-treaters visit).
A note of caution: Be sure to avoid any shallow wires (like electric dog fences), cables (for TV, lighting, etc), sprinkler heads, and ground level utility caps (typically water and gas). Those bundles of bright-colored small wire flags work well for marking obstacles to avoid.
Finally, if you decide to go that extra mile, go over your lawn 2 or 3 times with the aerator and consider doing some overseeding and/or liming (if needed) while those holes in your lawn are still open. They provide a faster route for lime to penetrate the soil profile, and grass seed will actually grow out of the holes.
Here’s my complete web page: Lawn Aeration
Here’s to a healthy lawn!