How Soil Compaction Affects Your Lawn

Have you noticed that your lawn looks a little sad lately? With all the action it gets during the summer - entertaining guests, playing yard games, mowing it constantly and heavy rains - it's understandable that your grass might be crying for help. If so, your lawn is most likely experiencing soil compaction, ultimately affecting the overall look and health of your plants and grass. However, there are solutions to help prevent and treat this lawn issue. 
 
To avoid compaction, it's important to understand what it is, how it affects your lawn, and how to avoid and remedy it. Find out if your lawn has fallen subject to compaction.

 

What is compaction?

Healthy, strong soil is made up of channels and gaps that allow air to flow through the soil, which helps feed bacteria and other important organisms your grass needs to survive. Foot traffic, rain and overall use of your lawn create compaction which compresses the soil. This reduces the amount of moisture that soil can hold (not allowing the soil to breathe) and retain, which causes your plants to suffer, possibly leading to disease and dead areas. 
 
One easy way to know if your soil is compacted is if you notice water sitting on top of your soil (rather than soaking in) a few minutes after watering. It will look cracked, grey and rocky.

 

How does compaction affect my lawn?

Compaction affects your lawn in many ways that can hinder the growth to make your lawn flourish. When grass tries to grow in compacted soil, it grows in thin and weak, and will slowly stop growing completely over time. The compacted soil makes it hard for roots to take, retain and release water, which weakens roots and growth. Additionally, weakened roots are more susceptible to pests and disease, also harmful. 

How do you fix compaction?

To achieve porous soil that will allow ample airflow between particles, it's vital to aerate your lawn to allow it to breathe. By aerating, you'll reduce compaction from regular mowing and foot traffic, while also opening space for air and water to get to the roots. To know when to aerate, dig up a small bit of grass from your lawn and look for signs of thatch. If water is pooling on top of the ground, you know you have compacted soil. Late summer is the perfect time to aerate because it will give your lawn plenty of time to repair itself. Make sure your soil is somewhat moist before you aerate so the aerator can break through soil easily. 
 
With a little lawn TLC, your compacted yard can be as good as new. Just remember what compaction looks like, how it can affect your lawn and how to fix it, and you'll be on your way to a beautiful yard.