Q: My yard is in need of a de-thatching and possible aerating. I live in Northern Indiana. What is the best time of year to do this? Do you have any tips and guidelines?
— Sandy Bennitt, Granger, Ind.
A: Horticulturist Melinda Myers, author of a series of state-specific lawn-care books including Ohio Lawn Guide and Indiana Lawn Guide, says core aeration will accomplish both your goals. It reduces compaction, allowing air, water and nutrients to reach the roots and helping the thatch layer to decompose.
Here in the North, aeration can be done in either spring or fall, while the grass is still actively growing.
Use a core aerator, which removes plugs of soil, not one with solid tines that just poke into the ground. The latter only compacts the soil more.
You can either use a machine that grinds the cores and spreads them over your lawn, or grind them yourself by running over them with a rotary lawn mower, Myers says. If you use a mower, be sure to sharpen or replace the blade when you’re done.
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