Running a Small Farm

Is Your Yard A Mess Because Of Heavily Compacted Soil? You Still Have Time This Fall To Fix It

by Myrtle Herrera

If the soil on your property is heavily compacted, you may hate stepping outside. Instead of a nice grass lawn, you're stuck looking at a yard full of moss, mushrooms, bare spots and weeds. Now that fall's here and winter is coming, is it time to give up on the grass again? Do you just resign yourself to hoping that the snow will be heavy enough to hide your existing lawn over the winter until you can start trying to coax some grass out again in the spring? Here's what you should know.

1.) Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn.

The soil in your lawn may have ended up compacted for a number of reasons. Often, it's a combination of clay soil, weather cycles, and long-term neglect. Houses that sat empty for a few years until sold by the bank or the previous owner's estate often end up having a lot of organic material, like dead leaves, sitting around on the property. As they decay, they pull moisture out of the soil and compact it even further. Grass starts to fail because it can't get its roots through the giant brick that the soil has become. Nutrients like water and oxygen are also blocked by the dense material

One of the best fixes for hard, compacted soil is to aerate it. A lawn aerator creates holes in the lawn by pulling out small plugs of soil, loosening the ground and giving it room to shift a little. That lets the roots of grass find space to grow. Air and water are also able to get back in. The cool, moist weather in the fall helps soften the ground up, making this process even easier. Consider aerating the lawn right after you get done raking up the fall leaves. 

2.) It's a good time to lay sod right after you aerate.

There's no reason to spend all winter looking at an ugly yard. You can pick up sod (or have it delivered) and you get the immediate benefit of a beautiful yard as soon as you finish installing it, without waiting for spring to make the grass grow.

You can lay sod down in the fall, right after you aerate your lawn. Aerating a compacted soil before laying sod is important because it helps even out the landscape you're planning on covering. Those holes in the soil from the aeration also give the roots of the sod someplace to quickly anchor. As long as the weather stays fairly damp and mild, fall is an excellent time to lay down sod. The dampness helps the roots spread and the mild temperatures keep the still-delicate grasses from wilting and burning before they can establish a strong root structure.

If you're sick of looking at your worn-out yard, you don't have to wait all winter to try to fix the problem. Aeration and sod can be combined into a quick, effective solution for your yard woes before fall is over. Click for more information.