There are different types of soil with different qualities, and you’ve likely read something about the benefits of aerating it occasionally. If you live in a coastal climate, you probably have sandy soil and want to know if it should be aerated and how often? We’ve done the research for you in order to answer this very question.
No matter what type of soil you have, aerating is essential for maintaining its health and keeping up the appearance of your yard and landscaping. Sandy soil needs aeration just like other soils do, but you don’t have to do it as often due to the characteristics of the soil.
So how often should you aerate sandy soil? What are the benefits of aerating soil? Can you do it yourself? If so, how do you do it properly, and what tools can you use? We’ve created this guide to answer all of your questions about aerating sandy soil. Continue reading to learn more.
What Are The Benefits Of Aerating Your Lawn?
People often overlook aeration because it can be hard, time-consuming work. However, there are many benefits that aerating your lawn can provide in both improving the appearance and health of your lawn and soil. Let’s take a closer look at some of those benefits.
Improves Grass Health
Although there are some limitations to the types of plants that can grow in sandy soil, grass will usually grow.
Aerating your soil actually improves the overall health of grass because it allows more water, sunlight, and nutrients to reach the roots. This makes your grass stronger, which is essential in sandy soil that is looser than other soil types.
Prevents Soil Compaction
If your lawn experiences heavy use or traffic, the soil can become compacted as people walk or drive over it.
If the soil becomes compacted, plants won’t grow as well because their roots won’t be able to spread out to reach nutrients. This could leave you with barren spots in your yard or could cause some of your favorite plants not to thrive.
Thatch is a layer of organic matter such as grass, leaves, and other plant residues that build up between the soil and the grass. If the layer of thatch is too thick, it can prevent sunlight, water, and nutrients from reaching the roots of your healthy plants. Aerating the soil can remove some of this thatch buildup and improve the overall health of your plants.
Improves Soil Health
Sandy soil is often more acidic and lower in nutrients than other types of soil, so it may require the use of fertilizers and pH treatments to add nutritional value.
Aerating your soil, especially before modifying or fertilizing your lawn, is beneficial because it helps the fertilizers and pH treatments penetrate deeper into the soil. If the fertilizers can reach deeper into the soil, then they can reach any plant roots that are deeper as well.
Do I Need To Aerate Sandy Soil?
Sandy soil is made of much finer and looseer granules than other soil types. Some people assume that it won't become as compacted because of the looser quality of sandy soil. But sandy soil can become compacted just like any other soil type; it just doesn’t happen as often.
One key reason for compaction is water retention. Sandy soil doesn’t retain water as much as clay and other soils do; since areas where sandier soils are found are usually high-moisture environments, it can retain water and become compacted nonetheless. That means that sandy soil will benefit from occasional aeration just like other soils will for all of the reasons listed above.
How Often To Aerate Sandy Soil?
Because sandy soil doesn’t retain as much water and doesn’t become compacted as frequently as other types of soil, you shouldn’t need to aerate it more than once per year. Depending on how much traffic your yard receives, you might even get by with doing it every other year.
When Should You Aerate Sandy Soil?
Since aerating your soil is designed to improve the growth of grass and other plants, there are certain times of the year that you should do it in order to have the best-looking grass. Different grass types grow at different times. Aerating your lawn based on the growing season of your grass can help fill in patchy areas.
There are two main categories of grass: warm-season and cool-season. Knowing which type of grass and the category that your grass falls under can help ensure that you aerate your lawn at the right time for maximum grass growth.
See more: Why Is My Grass Dying In Patches?
Warm Season Grass
Warm-season grasses are those that typically grow in tropical and subtropical climates (such as the Southern U.S.). They grow mostly during the warmer spring and summer months, then go dormant as temperatures start to cool off. Examples of warm-season grass include:
- Bahia grass
- Bermuda grass
- Centipede grass
- St. Augustine grass
A lot of the warm season grasses can be found growing even in sandy soil. If you have any of the above grasses in your yard, you should aerate your lawn in early spring, before the growing season starts.
Cool Season Grass
Cool-season grasses grow in colder areas or areas that receive fluctuations in temperature. They grow over most of the northern half of the U.S., including coastal areas with sandy soil. Most of their growth occurs when temperatures are a bit cooler, in spring and fall. Grasses in this category include:
- Kentucky bluegrass
Since these grasses can grow some during the fall, you should aerate your lawn about a month before the first frost. This will give the grass time to actively grow before the colder temperatures and winter months set in.
How To Aerate Your Lawn By Hand
Because aerating can be a lot of work, some people prefer to call in a professional landscaper to do the work for them. But if you’d rather not put forth the expense, or if you have a small lawn, you can aerate it yourself with either a push aerator or a tow-behind aerator that attaches to your lawnmower.
There are a few tools you may need:
- Sprinkler or hose
- Push or tow-behind aerator
Follow these steps to aerate your lawn:
Check The Soil
Check the moisture content of the soil first to make sure that it isn’t too wet or too dry to aerate. Stick a hand cultivator into the soil. If the soil sticks to the cultivator, it is too wet to aerate. Give the soil a few days to dry out some before you aerate.
If the soil is powdery or you can’t stick the cultivator into the soil, it is too dry. Water your lawn with a sprinkler or hose, then wait a couple of days before you aerate.
Rake The Soil
Check the thickness of the thatch layer, and rake it if it is thicker than one inch. Rake vigorously to ensure that the thatch is pulled up. Work your way across your entire lawn. Have a wheelbarrow handy to put the thatch in, then remove it from the area.
Aerate The Lawn
After removing the thatch, aerate the lawn either by hand using a push aerator or attach a tow-behind aerator to your lawnmower. Tow-behind aerators are more efficient, but they can be pricey. If you are using a tow-behind aerator, just drive the lawnmower across your lawn as if you were cutting grass.
If you are using a push aerator, simply push the aerator across your lawn, making sure that the aerator penetrates about 4 inches down into the soil. You can rake your yard again afterward if you prefer, but it isn’t necessary.
Can I Aerate My Lawn With A Pitchfork?
You can use a pitchfork to aerate your lawn, but this will be time-consuming the bigger your yard is. This method is ideal if you have a small lawn or raised garden bed needing to be aerated. You can even use a hand cultivator if you don’t have a pitchfork.
To aerate your lawn with a pitchfork or hand cultivator, rake the area first to remove thatch. Then, just insert the tool about 4 inches into the soil. Rock it back and forth to make the holes larger and pull it out. Repeat this process every 4 to 6 inches across your yard.
Aerating sandy soil is beneficial for the overall health of the soil as well as the grass and plants that live there. While sandy soil doesn’t need to be aerated as frequently as other soil types, it can benefit from aeration once a year or every other year. Thanks for reading!