Lawn aeration ensures lush, healthy grass year-round.
Lawn aeration brings oxygen, water, and nutrients directly to grass roots, which helps make your lawn green and lush. It’s a critical part of spring and fall lawn care and gives roots the vital boost they need.
Lawn Aeration Basics
Lawn aeration pulls 2- to 8-inch soil “plugs” out of the ground, leaving holes that allow water, air, and nutrients to reach grass roots, and lets new seed germinate in a cool, moist environment. Hard clay soils need to be aerated more often than sandy soil. A soil test will tell you what type of soil you have.
John Dillon, who directs lawn care at New York City’s Central Park, says aeration helps lawns by:
- Allowing oxygen to reach the root zone, which invigorates lawns
- Relieving compaction by allowing established grass and seed to spread into plug holes
- Controlling thatch buildup
- Reducing water runoff
You can aerate by hand with an aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with two hollow tines. Step on the tool’s bridge and drive the hollow tines into the earth. It’s slow-going, but good for spot aerating small patches of lawn.
You also can buy an aeration attachment ($60) for your garden tiller, but the tool slices the lawn and doesn’t actually remove plugs.
Most lawn aeration is done with a self-propelled machine known as a core aerator. About the size of a large lawn mower, a core aerator has hollow tines or spoons that rotate on a drum, removing soil plugs as you guide it from behind. This tool is available at most garden or rental centers for $15 to $25 per hour. Plan two to four hours to aerate an average quarter-acre suburban lot.
Timing is Everything
Aerate after the first frost has killed weeds, but before the ground has become too hard. It’s a good idea to spread grass seed after you aerate, so make sure you’re still able to water your lawn for two weeks after you aerate, which will help the seed to germinate.
Adria Bordas, a Fairfax County Virginia extension agent, says lawns with a lot of foot traffic should be aerated twice a year — March through April, and mid-August through October.
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Published: November 5, 2012
Wouldn’t it be nice to approach your home’s entrance with a grin instead of a grimace? Take our tips for beating a clear, safe, and stylish path to your front door.
First impressions count — not just for your friends, relatives, and the UPS guy, but for yourself. Whether it’s on an urban stoop or a Victorian front porch, your front door and the area leading up to it should extend a warm welcome to all comers — and needn’t cost a bundle.
Here’s what you can do to make welcoming happen on the cheap.
1. Clear the Way for Curb Appeal.
The path to your front door should be at least 3 feet wide so people can walk shoulder-to-shoulder, with an unobstructed view and no stumbling hazards. So get out those loppers and cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching shrubs.
2. Light the Route.
Landscape lighting makes it easy to get around at night. Solar-powered LED lights you can just stick in the ground, requiring no wiring, are surprisingly inexpensive. We found 8 packs for under $60 online.
3. Go Glossy.
Borrow inspiration from London’s lovely row houses, whose owners assert their individuality by painting their doors in high-gloss colors. The reflective sheen of a royal blue, deep green, crimson, or whatever color you like will ensure your house stands out from the pack.
Related: Pictures of 10 Great Value-Add Exterior Paint Jobs
4. Pretty Up the View.
A door with lots of glass is a plus for letting light into the front hall — but if you also want privacy and a bit of decor, check out decorative window film. It’s removable and re-positionable, and comes in innumerable styles and motifs. Pricing depends on size and design; many available for under $30.
A way to get the look of stained glass without doing custom work or buying a whole new door: Mount a decorative panel on the inside of the door behind an existing glass insert, $92 for an Arts and Crafts-style panel 20-inches-high by 11-inches-wide.
5. Replace Door Hardware.
While you’re at it, polish up the handle on the big front door. Or better yet, replace it with a shiny new brass lockset with a secure deadbolt. Available for about $60.
6. Please Knock.
Doorbells may be the norm, but a hefty knocker is a classic that will never run out of battery life, and another opportunity to express yourself (whatever your favorite animal or insect is, there’s a door-knocker in its image).
Boxwoods are always tidy-looking, the definition of easy upkeep. A pair on either side of the door is traditional, but a singleton is good, too. About $25 at garden centers. In cold climates, make sure pots are frost-proof (polyethylene urns and boxes mimic terracotta and wood to perfection).
8. Numbers Game.
Is your house number clearly visible? That’s of prime importance if you want your guests to arrive and your pizza to be hot. Stick-on vinyl numbers in a variety of fonts make it easy, starting at about $4 per digit.
9. Foot Traffic.
A hardworking mat for wiping muddy feet is a must. A thick coir mat can be had at the hardware store for less than $20. Even fancier varieties can be found well under $50.
10. Go for the glow.
Fumbling for keys in the dark isn’t fun. Consider doubling up on porch lights with a pair of lanterns, one on each side of the door, for symmetry and twice the illumination. Many mounted lights are available well under $100.
11. Snail Mail.
Mailboxes run the gamut from kitschy roadside novelties masquerading as dogs, fish, or what-have-you to sober black lockboxes mounted alongside the front door. Whichever way you go, make sure yours is standing or hanging straight, with a secure closure, and no dings or dents. The mail carrier will thank you.
Related: A Dozen Foyer Ideas Under $100