Is there an inexpensive way to aerate my lawn? My soil is hard as a rock but I am not really in a position to buy an aerator.
I use a pitchfork and do small areas at a time. I also scatter/sprinkle a few buckets of compost over the lawn if I know it's going to rain.
I know some folks drive nails into old shoes and walk around over the lawn.
I hope this helps.
That absolutely does help. Thank you very much Bill.
I have a Turfhound that I bought at Home Depot last year. It took a while to do my 6000 sqft lawn. But, was less than $20 and it can be used again and again for problem areas like under trees and next to driveways.
Here is a link that might be useful: Turfhound areator
Unless you are using something that actually pulls little plugs from the soil, you aren't aerating, but compressing. Make sense? The soil particles are shoved to the sides to make room for the nails....you've created holes, but at the sacrifice of the soil system as a whole.
They 'finally' figured that out on golf courses....and spiked shoes have become a thing of the past. The darned things were ruining the greens! ;-)
if you have a pickup truck a lot of "equipment rental" places will rent you one to use for a few hours or even days. my parents go in with 2-3 of the neighbors and they all rent one together and split the cost of the rental, and each do their own yard.
Many times they come on their own trailers, so if you have a trailer hitch you can just pull it home. To do a whole lawn it is really the only way. The cost here is around $50 for a whole day, less for a few hours. You can get a self propelled one or one for behind a riding mower.
Worms will do the job for you if you sprinkle coffee grounds around everywhere. They love it. Coffee grounds are a neutral fertilizer, and the grainy structure can help condition soil a bit - before it is ingested by critters or breaks down.
Worms don't like to bake in the sun however. So consider using a steel rake after throwing handfuls of grounds, so the rake scratches or loosens the surface first, then water lightly in the evening to allow the guys to get to the surface. I do this several times a year. For water conservation in Oregon, many of us are reducing the amount of lawn, creating sahde and part-sun conditions, and many let the rain soften the ground instead of watering grass, and our allow grass to brown out in July/August. It comes right back at the first rains. (Of course this is rainy Oregon, zone 8)
It is also good to sprinkle some compost over your lawn. Cooler days in September are a great time to feed all plants int he garden with a compost dressing. grass likes it too. Bio-organisms want to help us condition the soil, and make healthier soil and plants...for free! Hooray!
I remember buying Sea Monkeys as a Kid - and being disappointed. Compost Bio-organisms NEVER disappoint.
Ground-Source: I ask Baristas at Starbucks for any big plastic bags of used coffee grounds they can share. I get more that way than their shiny gift bags allow. I reuse the plastic bags for garbage, and return the shiny silver Compost Packages to them to refill.
I love the smell of my yard after throwing grounds. One of my favorite natural highs! (as a gardener/cook who lives in java, wine and micro-brew heaven, Life is GOOD!)
Reuse/Recycle: The Silver Starbucks Grounds bags also make nice Gift bags for sharing finished, sifted Compost with Apartment-dwelling friends to revive their houseplants. They can just sprinkle a handful on the top layer of most of their plants (but feed the soil-less type plants another way) and add rainwater to see a truly amazing revival happen. They'll be making cuttings in no time - to share with YOU - so claim Dibs on future cuttings when you bring over your plant-food gift!
Also - in mid-summer, don't cut grass too short - or soil will bake. Weeds have less of a chance if grass is allowed to grow a bit taller.