Microbial Aeration Introduction

Table of Contents

The Issue With Soil Compaction

Most of the soil in the Omaha area is hard clay and that leads to a lot of compaction issues. Poor water retention and a lack of airflow is the main issue when compaction is mentioned. But if you’ve been involved in turf for a long time you’ll also consider that heavy thatch accumulation,—which can, among other things, lead to the lawn rooting in the thatch layer instead of the soil—poor root development and disease issues are also much more prevalent in compacted soils.

Of course, the only way to relieve soil compaction, up until now, was mechanical aeration where machines with tines are used to remove soil plugs from the ground and deposit them on the surface, leaving an open hole that allows water and air in.

Why Lawn Aeration Wasn’t a Great Solution

This is a difficult job to do, not just for the man behind the aerator but for the homeowner as well. Sprinkler systems, drain tiles, dog fences, and anything underground, have to be marked so it’s not damaged. After the job is done the soil plugs lay on top of the lawn and can lead to muddy conditions that interfere with mowing or can be brought into the house by pets. Areas of the lawn can be missed as well, either because the aerator won’t fit or because there’s a steep slope that’s not safe to run the machine on. Aeration is a hassle, but it’s necessary to relieve soil compaction.

Or it was. But it doesn’t have to be anymore. There have been some pretty amazing advances in the study of microbial activity in soils and we now have an alternative to mechanical aeration that gets the same results without all the hassle. And that’s a perfect fit for Nature’s Helper because we are driven by results.

What Happens To a Lawn After Soil Aeration?

Before getting too deep into Microbial Aeration and its benefits, I want to explain what actually happens when the lawn is mechanically aerated because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about it. To start, the physical act of pulling a plug of soil out of the ground provides no benefit. None. It doesn’t relieve compaction or break down thatch any more than digging a hole would. It’s what happens to the microbes living in the soil that has positive benefits.

Soil is full of microbial life. When you pull a plug (or dig a hole I suppose) you expose those soil microbes to air and in doing so increase their rate of reproduction exponentially. More microbes create more activity, and it’s that microbial activity that creates the benefits of soil loosening and thatch decomposition. All we are doing by mechanically aerating the yard is activating the microbes in the soil. Once the plugs have been broken down and the holes refilled, this activity drops off very quickly.

The other way to stimulate these microbes is to feed them. We do this by introducing carbon into the soil (composting). The vast majority of home lawns lack carbon in the soil because there isn’t a lot of dead plant matter decaying in those areas. After years of removing carbon from the soil without replacing it, the microbes start to decline. It’s why so many older homes tend to develop compacted lawns that are thin and struggle to maintain good density. The soil lacks carbon.

Traditional composting is widely used by gardeners to introduce carbon and other nutrients into the soil. But it does have drawbacks. Adding compost to lawns, for instance, is difficult and time-consuming. Materials used for composting can often be contaminated by bits of plastic, weed seeds, and destructive insects, and even though they’re thought to be organic they can over have residual pesticides present. 

Nature’s Helper uses C20 Soil Builder to add needed carbon to your soil. This product is made from all-natural grain by-products that do not contain weed seeds, discarded food, invasive insects, or any living organisms. C20 Soil Builder does not introduce new microbes into the soil. It feeds the existing, or “native” microbes to create a healthy soil composition.

Microbial Aeration Benefits

Unlike mechanical aeration, there are no missed spots due to steep slopes or tight spaces and the benefits of Microbial Aeration don’t drop off after just a few weeks. C20 is a balanced product, with 50% of the carbon available immediately to feed and stimulate reproduction in soil microbes and the other 50% becoming available slowly. This typically results in 3 months or more of increased microbial activity. This is like having the lawn aerated all day, every day, for 3 months. 

Results come quickly as well. Instead of taking years, like other methods, soil loosening and reduced bulk density occur a few weeks after the product is applied and watered in, giving the soil better water retention and increasing root development of grass plants. Turf density and color begin improving after about a month and will continue to improve for months after.

Because this application does not disturb the soil surface, it won’t affect pre-emergent barriers or encourage weed germination through exposed soils and can be performed at any time during the season. We do recommend two applications each year, one in the spring and one in the late summer or early fall to get the best results possible.

Your Soil Aeration Expert

Soil compaction is an ongoing issue for homeowners in the Omaha area and at Nature’s Helper, we feel we must find the best solutions possible for our customers and Microbial Aeration fits that model. We’re using science and technology to save our customers the inconveniences that come with older methods of aeration and deliver the best results possible. And we like that. Because Nature’s Helper is driven by results. 

If you have any questions about microbial or mechanical aeration or want to get signed up for Microbial Aeration and get on the path to a healthy, green lawn, contact us or call. Our office number is 402-334-2625.