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Landscape Maintenance vs. Lawn Care: What’s The Difference?

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We call lawn aeration the “cornerstone of our lawn care program,” because it’s truly one of the best services for your lawn. Even so, we find that a lot of homeowners have quite a few questions about this service and what it means.

We understand that you want to be a knowledgeable consumer. You don’t want to pay for something that your lawn doesn’t really need—plus you want to fully understand anything you’re having completed.

That’s why we’re answering some of your most common questions about lawn aeration and any accompanying services that can help you get the results you’re after.

Does My Lawn Need Aeration?

If you’re asking Do I need lawn aeration? or , Do I need core aeration (which is the same thing, just a more technical term for a type of aeration), then the simple answer is, yes. But let us explain why.

Due to the prevalence of clay soils here in Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA, lawn soil tends to get quite compacted. When this happens, oxygen, water, and nutrients struggle to make their way to your lawn’s roots, where they’re needed. During aeration, a professional core aerator is used to extract small cores from the soil and leave them there to break down and filter back into the earth. This helps to break down the compaction and allows your lawn to breathe.

Professional Core Aerator leaving behind small cores of soil

For these reasons it’s fair to call this service a “necessity.”

It’s also going to help you get the most out of other lawn care services you might be implementing. If you’re having fertilizer and other lawn care products applied to your lawn but your soil is compacted, a lot of that material may never make its wait to the root zone. That’s why homeowners who participate in a complete lawn care program, including lawn aeration, see the best results. These work hand-in-hand.

How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

Because of the clay soils in Northern Virginia, and the likelihood that your lawn will become compacted, we recommend annual aeration. To put it into perspective, golf courses and athletic turf fields are being aerated at least twice a year. If you’re really looking for great results, you really do need to aerate once a year.

Still, homeowners will ask, Can’t I just skip a year?

The truth is, even if your lawn looks okay coming out of summer, it’s dealt with more stress from the heat and drought-like conditions than you realize. If you skip a year of aeration, your lawn could be in pretty bad shape come next year—and now you’re set back.

We also want homeowners to understand that lawn aeration isn’t just something you do when your lawn looks bad. It’s something you should do to keep your lawn looking good. If you skip it, you’re going to notice.

Green lush lawn looking good from annual aeration
In terms of timing, aeration is best performed in the fall so that overseeding can also be performed at the same time (allowing the seeds to fall into the holes made by the aerator). This produces better seed-to-soil contact which is needed for germination. Seeding is best done in the fall when the soil temperatures are still warm but the air is cooler and more forgiving for new growth.

Is Aeration and Seeding Enough or Do I Need Anything More?

Sometimes homeowners want to know if aeration will be enough. As we mentioned, aeration should really be part of a comprehensive lawn care program which also includes vital treatments like fertilization and weed control. Lawn aeration helps to make these services more effective by reducing soil compaction.

But some homeowners also worry aeration and seeding won’t be enough if areas in their lawn are in really bad shape. For the vast majority of lawns, overseeding and aeration can do the work of filling in bare spots and thickening the turf as a whole.

However, when overseeding is simply not enough, we do also offer power seeding, which is a process of cutting rows into the soil and planting our high-quality seed. If your lawn is in rough shape, we can assess whether this option will be more effective.

lawn being power seeded to improve grass

Should I Also Topdress my Lawn?

Topdressing is another important but often overlooked service that can help produce a lush, green lawn. When we topdress, we fill the holes that were made during aeration with an organic, rich compost that will mix with the clay soil and create a better layer of topsoil. This occurs as the soil structure is improved.

Topdressing is one of those add-on services that some homeowners don’t want to spring for, however, when it’s performed, it can really take the results to a whole new level.

Again, keep in mind that topdressing is a service being performed at least twice a year by golf courses. If you want to have a golf course-like lawn, you’ll want to consider having this completed immediately following an aeration.

If I Overseed, How Do I Water?

Properly watering your lawn after a lawn aeration is important. Keep in mind that your lawn’s watering needs immediately after aeration and overseeding are going to be a bit different than what you might be used to.

Your lawn is going to require less water but more frequently. The idea is to keep the soil moist but you don’t want to water for too long. This generally means watering twice a day but for a short period of time (maybe 15 to 20 minutes).

While you can obviously achieve this by hand-watering (dragging a hose and sprinkler around), we do find that homeowners who have an irrigation system are naturally able to be more effective in maintaining proper watering needs. It just takes the guesswork out of the process when you can have a “set it and forget it” mentality with your irrigation system.

Lawn irrigation watering newly overseeded lawn

We find that for a lot of our clients who have irrigation systems, it helps to have a post-seeding schedule already programmed so that each year, you can simply change it over from the normal watering schedule at a few simple pushes of the button.

Can I Just Perform Lawn Aeration on my Own?

So, by now you understand the answer to Do I need lawn aeration? is a definite yes, if you care about getting great results.

But you might also wonder whether you can just perform DIY aeration. After all, you can just rent this equipment on your own and maybe save yourself some money.

In reality, DIY lawn aeration is a bit more complex than a lot of people realize. For one, you have to keep in mind that you’re renting a piece of equipment that hundreds have likely used before you.

Using a clunky, old piece of equipment is going to have a direct impact on your results. And beyond that, it’s a hassle. Aeration can be a lot more difficult and labor intensive than homeowners realize. Besides having to haul the piece of machinery back and forth from your home, you now have to spend a weekend day pushing it around on your property. It can be exhausting.

Plus, it’s not like rentals are exactly cheap. By the time you weigh the hassles and headaches involved, and the risk of subpar results, you might just decide it’s easier to have a professional handle it for you.

Getting the Best Results from Your Lawn Aeration Service

When you invest time and money into lawn care services you want to see results. That’s why we recommend that you don’t skip over annual lawn aeration. It will help ensure you’re getting the most out of any other lawn care services you’re having performed.

Given the clay-like soil conditions here in Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA, lawn aeration is truly one of the best things that you can do to improve the overall health of your lawn. By investing in lawn aeration with Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, you can help ensure you’re getting the green st, healthiest grass possible! That means spending more time enjoying your lawn (and property) to the fullest.

Are you ready to have a healthy and thriving lawn? Request your quote, choose from our 3 lawn care package options (all of which include aeration and overseeding) and relax as you get the royal treatment.

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Krisjan Berzins - Owner, CEO

Since 1997, Krisjan has led the Kingstowne team with one simple philosophy, treat every customer like the “only” customer. His passionate pursuit of impeccable customer service has resulted in 24 successful years and a thriving company with over 85 employees, helping thousands of homeowners in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA area get what they want -- a worry-free property they can be proud of.