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View Full Version : Too Late Too Aerate?


DavidNJ
12-09-2010, 09:28 PM
In NJ and much of the rest of the country this week has been a cold snap. After above average temps, we dropped 15F below average. Yesterday I talked to some people who do deep tine aeration (and other services) wh said on Monday they had a hard time getting penetration in near frozen Long Island, NY ground. Just got home, and took soil temps (33F, ambient 29F) and and used a probe to take some soild samples (a few were easy, a few impossible).

Saturday is supposed to be low 40s after another cold day tomorrow with temps tonight around 20F. Has the window passed? Or would the warm day Saturday be enough to make it work?

Saturday night is expected to be in the upper 30s, Sunday in the mid to upper 40s but raining. However, my understanding is that plugging is possible in the rain. The tines, arriving tomorrow, are .6" OD, .47"ID, side eject. On the 3/8" mount tine, the core deflector is built into the tine, and the side eject is exposed while the tip is in the ground. Although these are mini "quad' tines, they are about the size and stiffness of regular tines and the Deere Aercore 800 uses the mini tines in one row, 4 banks of 6, rather than the 6 banks of 8 on many other aerators.

So, too late? Should the dormant seeding be rushed to Saturday instead? It had originally been planned for next week if possible. However, if the ground is frozen the Ryan verticutter probably won't work. Next week (forecasts available until Thursday) appears to be just above freezing during the day and below at night.

phillie
12-09-2010, 10:05 PM
Personally I think its to late. I dont know about your area but here the ground is frozen..Even if you were to get the tines into the ground it wouldnt really benefit the lawn at this point. Although, if you are doing this just for dormant seeding purposes you dont want the tines to go to deep anyway. I would say skip the aeration and do it in the spring, when it would more benefit the lawn. Obviously, this is just my opinion and you will probably get many conflicting opinions.

Stillwater
12-09-2010, 10:25 PM
Personally I think its to late. I dont know about your area but here the ground is frozen..Even if you were to get the tines into the ground it wouldnt really benefit the lawn at this point. Although, if you are doing this just for dormant seeding purposes you dont want the tines to go to deep anyway. I would say skip the aeration and do it in the spring, when it would more benefit the lawn. Obviously, this is just my opinion and you will probably get many conflicting opinions.

I agree the grass is a little stiff and dorment out their

DavidNJ
12-09-2010, 10:59 PM
It is really a bit more a tilling with tines than an aeration per se. It will releive some compaction; the aerator will leave 72 1/2" diameter 3" long cores per sq. ft. Doing an aeration on the new seedlings is probably not going to be advisable.

The real risk is it won't work: the aerator won't work through frozen ground. The other risk is that delaying further may make seeding with the verticutter problematic. After the warm fall I just wasn't expecting this cold snap that looks to last nearly two weeks.

I wonder if I could aerator during the rain on Sunday, or if that will just plug.

Stillwater
12-10-2010, 12:06 AM
It is really a bit more a tilling with tines than an aeration per se. It will releive some compaction; the aerator will leave 72 1/2" diameter 3" long cores per sq. ft. Doing an aeration on the new seedlings is probably not going to be advisable.

The real risk is it won't work: the aerator won't work through frozen ground. The other risk is that delaying further may make seeding with the verticutter problematic. After the warm fall I just wasn't expecting this cold snap that looks to last nearly two weeks.

I wonder if I could aerator during the rain on Sunday, or if that will just plug.

I have cored in the rain before but not a hard driveing rain so your call on that one. But some of the live grass within the cores you do pull most likely will not prevail into the spring. I suggest waiting........

DavidNJ
12-10-2010, 12:27 AM
The live grass isn't really the issue. Subtracting areas with probable tree roots or TV and phone cables near the surface, there is probably 50k sqft, 30k sq ft dead, and another 12-15k sq ft sparce enough not to care. The remaining 5-8k sq ft isn't enough to worry about. I'm just thinking the new seedlings will prevent coring in May, and relieving some compaction will benefit the germination. The plugs will act like a 1/4" deep top dressing. The core is about 9% of the surface area, the OD about 14%.

Stillwater
12-10-2010, 01:27 AM
oh well then with this additional info then open the soil up with what ever method works best for you and get the seed down asap most hear will concur. it will be a warm spell this weekend...

DavidNJ
12-10-2010, 02:24 AM
Fingers crossed...however it is 13F on our outside thermometer now.

White Gardens
12-10-2010, 02:39 AM
No Dice. Ground has got to be too cold. We have at least 4-5 inches of frost here.

Aerating in the fall is great for healthy root growth before winter. I'd think you would get better results if you wait until spring.

Frost/Heave cylce will help for relieving compaction at this point.

phillie
12-10-2010, 02:43 AM
Is this your lawn or a customers lawn? If its your lawn then do it regaurdless, it couldnt hurt to experience what happens. Customers lawn, well I would wait until spring. Ultimately its a decision your going to have to make. I have aerated in the rain also, be careful not to rut the lawn up

DavidNJ
12-10-2010, 03:06 AM
My lawn. Aerating now doesn't preclude also doing in the spring. The issue there is damaging the young seedlings or adding stress over the hot summer for the cool-grass tall fescue.

In a normal cycle it should be preferable to aerate in the spring and fall and seed/overseed just after labor day. However, that ship has sailed.

Temps are the the annual lows, 20F below normal lows for this period, and within 2F of record lows for this date. The soil is 29F at the surface, 32F 2" down. However, it is 13F outside and it will be 40+F on Saturday. The frost should add moisture.

Forcast is not to pass 32F until mid afternoon, dip below freezing Friday night, be above freezing by 8am Saturday, and not dip below freezing until 2-4am Monday. However, there is over a 50% chance of rain from 10pm Saturday through Monday morning.

I was planning to aerate without the turf guards. If the tines clear the turf guards that should minimize damage. However, if the tines plug with wet soil, that will turn the aeration into creating compacted holes. Dropping the aeration depth to 2.5" may help.

Stillwater
12-10-2010, 03:33 AM
abuse to the aerator by attempting to aerate frozen soil should be concidered also

DavidNJ
12-10-2010, 03:51 AM
abuse to the aerator by attempting to aerate frozen soil should be concidered also

If the aerator can't work the soil it is really a non-starter. At 6pm my soil probe went in fairly easily. My 12am not at all. I am going to try to pick up the machine around 5pm Friday. A test before I leave should give the answer. The aerator should be able to apply 50-60# of force on each tine.

On a more postive note, the temps are 'forecast' to go up at the end of the week to seasonal norms (40s daytime, just above freezing at night).

DavidNJ
12-10-2010, 06:26 PM
Just got back, air temp around 36F, ground temp 33F at the surface. The soil probe went in easily; the tines arrived and I pressed one in with my fingers about 2". Since there is nothing to grab on, my guess is the machine should be ok tomorrow in 40+F weather.

DavidNJ
12-11-2010, 12:45 PM
This is a comparison of the tine I'm using with the tine in the machine (bottom) and the mini tine that was on it. It makes 72 holes/sqft in 1.4"x1.4" pattern. I'll post some videos of the turf later.

Kiril
12-11-2010, 01:00 PM
Aerating is best done when the turf is actively growing. Unless there is very good reason for aerating now (eg. sports turf), then I would wait.

DavidNJ
12-11-2010, 02:19 PM
Dormant seeding next week...just broke three tines on a hidden tree root outside of the drip area (cherry).

DavidNJ
12-11-2010, 07:17 PM
I went into this knowing I didn't have the right tines. It wasn't because I didn't want to buy the right tines, it was because the machine had the 3/8" mount mini-tine holders rather than the larger 3/4" or 7/8" mounts.

At least the Deere Aercore 800 put the mini-tines on a single row with 1.4" spacing. Also called quad tines, on most machines the mount hold 8 mini-tines on a 2x4 pattern 1" spacing rather than 2 tines on a 2" spacing; 48 tines for a 24" width. The Deere put used 24 tines for a 32" width.

In the backyard things went ok. Twice a tine fell out; one was found. Then 3 broke on a hidden tree root. With only 2 spare tines left, we went to the front lawn.

Now both the problem with the front lawn and the limitations of the mini-tines on a residential lawn became obvious. This lawn had a relatively thin layer of topsoil above what seems like clay. The machine would hit areas it would struggle on. No roots. Nothing frozen; if anything it was muddy although the tines rarely clogged and if they did they quickly freed themselves.

However, it would it hardened clay and break tines, bend tines, a crack the the tappered tip in parts or just off. Half way through the front lawn there were no more fresh tines. by 2/3rds of the way just 13 tines of the original 30 were servicable. However, the sun went down and with the difficult conditions that ended the day.

Net: was it overkill? I don't think so. Even pulling 72 1/2" cores were square foot, the aeration didn't seem excessive. In the back yard it looked like a nice top dressing. However, tines designed for greens are probably just to fragile for applications where the condition of the soil to 4" can't be ensured. With the right tines, this was probably the correct way to go.

Note: in the front we did some sections with a 50% overlap, producing over 100 cores per square foot. The grase was dead, and it looked like it was just tilled.

Stillwater
12-11-2010, 08:35 PM
hardly worth it.....

jiggz
12-11-2010, 08:49 PM
humm im in Philly.. normally i would say its too cold.. but today we had a warm upper 40's and tomorrow a little rain.. normally i hate pulling plugs in the rain.. but on the other hand ive never dont it this late when the ground was already so hard.. so the water might losten up the ground a little.. but it should be cold enough to hold it all toghter without tearing the turff to peices .. if that makes any sence lol.. what the hell try it

Puttinggreens
12-11-2010, 10:06 PM
We are just outside Philadelphia. Aerated 2 lawns today 4x over, seeded heavy with TTTF. Probably an acre total.

This is not my first year doing this in December. Results should be good, biggest obstacle is getting the crabgrass pre on at the right time. It is doable just a smaller window of opportunity.

Stillwater
12-12-2010, 01:47 AM
We are just outside Philadelphia. Aerated 2 lawns today 4x over, seeded heavy with TTTF. Probably an acre total.

This is not my first year doing this in December. Results should be good, biggest obstacle is getting the crabgrass pre on at the right time. It is doable just a smaller window of opportunity.

depends on the pre-m

DavidNJ
12-12-2010, 04:45 AM
We are just outside Philadelphia. Aerated 2 lawns today 4x over, seeded heavy with TTTF. Probably an acre total.

This is not my first year doing this in December. Results should be good, biggest obstacle is getting the crabgrass pre on at the right time. It is doable just a smaller window of opportunity.

Which aerator did you use? How many holes per sqft did you make?

The $64k pre-emergent question is whether Tenacity will be labeled for residential in the Spring. If it is, we were going to fertilize in early March with Lebanon Turf Country Club starter, then spray Tenacity in early April and in May. If not, then the spray would be Tupersan.

Which TTTF did you use?

While I haven't measured, I believe I got 20k sq ft aerated. However, I wanted to get 50k aerated, really ran through the tines so continuing would be difficult, and another cold snap will probably make doing this later impossible. The machine takes 24 tines, started with 30. Probably should have started with 60.

cheapcuts1
12-13-2010, 08:23 PM
Way too much time on your hands , to be tearing up machinery, and chancing seed. Shoot , i can buy sod and lay it cheaper in the spring , then the mr science u went through , ambient this and surface that ! blah . IMHO

Puttinggreens
12-13-2010, 08:39 PM
We used Winning Colors TTTF this year.

Yes the big question is if Tenacity will be available. Sure would make any spring seeding much easier.

Aerator used is the Z-plugger by L T Rich. Haven't checked the # of holes per square foot in a while. Based upon my experience we shoot for 4x over each section, if any area is in bad shape we will do more if needed. Basically whatever it takes to create a good seed bed.

DavidNJ
12-13-2010, 10:21 PM
The Z-plugger is an interesting multi-function unit. The specs say a 5"x8" pattern, which would be 3.6 holes/sqft 4x would bring that to 14 holes/sqft.

They say it is capable of 80,000 sqft/hour in the 46" width (10 rows of tines wheels with 6 tines each). That is a pretty decent 290,000 holes/hr. That compares to the Deere Aercore's 550,000 holes/hr and machines like the Billy Goat at 100,000 holes/hr.

What is the tine life expectancy? How much does it cost?

The unit is a hydro stander, and has options for a broadcast spreader and a boom sprayer that can be run concurrently.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d8hJhdrccY

DavidNJ
12-14-2010, 12:50 AM
Another Purdue article, although I'm still looking for the underlying research: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/pubs/AY-8.pdf. Large type highlights are mine.

Aerification
Aerification is the mechanical removal of soil cores (Figure 4). Aerifi cation relieves soil compaction, improves water and air movement into the soil, increases rooting, and can greatly improve turfgrass health. Additionally, aerifi cation can also reduce thatch. Aerification is needed in compacted areas such as sport fields, heavily traffi cked areas next to sidewalks, and areas with intense foot or pet traffic.

Aerification is most beneficial when the largest tines or spoons available are used, penetration is 2 to 3 inches deep, and when 20 to 40 holes are punched per square foot. Aerifiers with reciprocating arms are the most effective, whereas the aerifiers that roll behind garden tractors are less effective because they do not penetrate deep enough nor punch enough holes per square foot. Most aerifying machines available at rental agencies may not punch enough holes per square foot, thus multiple passes will be needed to achieve the 20 to 40 holes/ft2 (Table 2). The same is often true with aerification services provided by lawn care operators. Practices such as slicing or spiking remove no soil and are not considered aerification.

Aerification of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fi ne fescue, and tall fescue should be done in the fall (Sept.) or spring (April) when the turf is actively growing. Zoysiagrass should be aerified in early to mid-summer.

Stillwater
12-14-2010, 02:19 AM
What is the tine life expectancy? How much does it cost?]


With you tine life would be about about 2 minutes + - 6.45 sec. depending upon the actual mean temperature of the frozen soil being cored the sharpness of tine and its level of polish.

sorry couldn't resist.......:laugh:

DavidNJ
12-14-2010, 09:34 AM
With you tine life would be about about 2 minutes + - 6.45 sec. depending upon the actual mean temperature of the frozen soil being cored the sharpness of tine and its level of polish.

sorry couldn't resist.......:laugh:

Now, I would have thought you would be concerned with Purdue calling you out. :waving:

DavidNJ
12-15-2010, 02:54 PM
Looking a little further it would seem that key metrics are holes/hr and weight/tine. The first determines the amount of time necessary to complete the aeration, the second the ability of the aerator to work in harder soil and the speed it could work in the harder soil.

The first determines the actual rate. For 3/4" holes it would appear that drum aerators (Billy Goat, Clausen, Turfco, Ryan) vary between 100-230k holes/hour. The older greens aerators (Ryan GA-24, Toro Greens Aerator) are in the 300-350k holes/hr range. The newer ones (Deere Aercore 800, Toro ProCore 648) are 550-750k holes/hr.

Not sure about the weight per tine, but it seems most are in the 50-100lb/tine range. This is a function of the number of tines impacting the ground concurrently and the weight over the tines. Another factor would be the speed of the vertical movement, which would vary as a function of the geometry. At this time, not an accurate model for this. However, it seems heavier machines with more times penetrating the ground concurrently would be more likely to break or bend a tine if they hit a rock or hard tree root since that tine or tines would have the whole load on them.

DavidNJ
12-15-2010, 04:10 PM
This picture shows the reciprocating mechanism in the Toro ProCore648. It is 48" wide. 24 tines in 6 banks of 4 with 2" spacing. 2 banks of tines, 8 total, are penetrating the ground at one time, which is the same as the Deere Aercore 800 which has 4 banks of 4 tines.

Andre's Lawn Care
12-15-2010, 06:12 PM
How much does the toro aer. cost?

Stillwater
12-15-2010, 07:05 PM
How much does the toro aer. cost?

about 23,000.00 it is for flat open areas

Andre's Lawn Care
12-15-2010, 09:46 PM
You ever use one?

DavidNJ
12-15-2010, 10:20 PM
I thought it was closer to $26k. It is advertised to follow undulations and work on hills. It can' make turns while plugging though.

I've been told it is the hot machine for golf courses, and fast enough (32k sqft/hr at 24 holes/sqft) that it is also used on fairways and sports fields. It is roughly the same speed as the Deere Aercore 800 except it aerates 50% wider and has the wheels ahead of the aeration head eliminating the need to push the cores to avoid crushing them. The Deere is about $18k. I used the Deere last weekend.