These two types of lawn care treatments have very different and distinct purposes. Aeration allows for better water and air infiltration into the soil. Power raking is the process of removing a heavy thatch layer from above the soil.
A thatch layer is a buildup of dead and living organic matter and grass roots on top of the soil. When it gets too thick it becomes the primary location for turf grass roots. This becomes a problem because thatch can only contain a small fraction of the amount of water, oxygen and nutrients that soil can. Which then lends itself more prone to drought stress and nutrient deficiencies, even when you are watering/ fertilizing properly. A typical characteristic of a heavy thatch layer is a spongy or bouncy feel when walking on it. This is not common in most lawns in Southeast Idaho. Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue and bentgrass lawns are more likely to have problems with thatch buildup due to their manner of rooting. It is not related to the leaving of grass clippings, so feel free to leave the collector bag off the mower if that is your preference.
True power raking is performed by using a dethatching machine that has spinning teeth to get down to the thatch layer and pulls the thatch up to the surface. A lawn mower with teeth like tines on the front of it is not a power rake. It will not remove any of the thatch layer. It only lifts the grass up from off the ground. If a power rake is needed then make sure you are receiving the proper service to achieve the best results. It is important to note that power raking needs to be done prior to any kind of spring growth otherwise you will be damaging the live turf instead of removing the buildup.
Compaction is the result of soil particles being pushed closer together. While this doesn’t sound like much it can lead to much bigger problems. A compacted soil has limited space to hold oxygen for root system uptake, will take longer to drain after rain/ irrigation and will be more difficult for root systems to penetrate and become established.
Aeration is the process of coring holes into the soil about 2 inches apart and at a depth of three to four inches, the longer the better. It will leave these small plugs or cores all over the top of a lawn, which can be collected but is recommended to leave so they can disintegrate and return to the soil. This is generally more useful for clay soils and deep thatch layers as its main focus is to help the root zone by relieving soil compaction and breaking up the thatch layers.
Most lawns in Southeast Idaho will find the best health benefits with aerations but there are instances where a power rake is necessary. If you have any questions about what your lawn needs or would like a free estimate please give us a call at 208-523-5296.