aerating in may

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by dogger, May 14, 2002.

  1. dogger

    dogger LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    I have a few pointed questions pertaining to my own lawn. First i will describe the situation. I just bought the house and the front lawn has severe thatch to the point that there are bare areas throughout the lawn. What i would like to do is fix the lawn anyway possible.
    1. Can aeration reduce the thatch issue? Do you seed after areation? Where does weed control and fertilizing fit in the scheme of things?

    Any help would greatly appreciated as my wife is about to kick ass for neglecting our own lawn. Thanks.
  2. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,125

    Hi Dogger, How much weeds do you have in your lawn? If you have alot then Aerate and treat weeds. If you don't have alot of weeds then Aerate, Overseed and apply Fertilizer (seed starter). If you decide to Overseed now, Then make sure you get plenty of water all year. I normally wouldn't Overseed a customers Lawn now. But if it was my lawn then I could baby it and make sure I water it. If the new grass has a strong root by fall then Aerate and overseed again if needed.

    On the real bare spots were the thatch is really bad, take a metal rake and rake the thatch up before Aerating.

  3. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Posts: 3,486

    Are you sure the dead spots are caused by thatch?
  4. strickdad

    strickdad LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 544

    im with kirby (might be doggie pee)
  5. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    If you are sure its thatch;
    go to your hardware store and rent a dethatcher and run it thru the lawn. Rake up or bag the tahtch and other junk with the mower. Mow it to 2".
    I personally would core aerate the lawn as the next step.
    Then I would then overseed with a very good quality seed mix that is suitable for your area. Possibly a KY Blue, red fescue and rye mix.
    If the dethatcher has the option of a flail blade attatchment then I would run the flail over the cores and lawn to increase seed to soil contact, OR topdress with a topsoil/sand mix OR drag a mat to break up the cores when they dry.
    It would be a good idea to go and get a soil test prior to the whole works getting started so you know what is going on in there but most people don't.
    Fertilize with a starter fertilizer that you can find at the hardware store. Do Not use a Crabgrass Preventer/Fertilizer.
    Keep it moist and mow it after about 6 weeks or 4 to 5 inches growth. Use a sharp blade, bag it if it is too long with the goal being 3" height of cut with the clipping mulched back to the lawn.

    Now you can't buy that advice any cheaper can you.

    That works for me, you as well as 7700 others will have different experiences.

    Good Luck
  6. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 472

    Thatch up to 1/2 inch is actually good for a lawn. Over 3/4 inch thick thatch is a problem. I personaly don't think much of dethatching. It pulls very little of the thatch up. To dethatch properly, the vertical blades must scarify the soil. The primary function of dethatching is to top dress soil into the thatch layer. This is why the blades must make contact with the soil. The bulk of the material that dethatching pulls from your lawn if grass blades, not thatch. Grass blades are not a major contributor to thatch.

    Core areation is a more effective top dressing technique than dethatching. I like to aerate for thatch control in early spring. Late in spring is not the optimum time to aerate because you risk drying out yor lawn's roots this summer.

    Top dressing helps to control thatch because the microbes in your soil consume the organic matter in thatch. In very severe cases of thatch build-up top dressing will not solve the problem. In this case you may need to renovate your lawn (start over) by physically removing the excess thatch (rototill, sod cutter, box scraper, etc). Good luck.

  7. Big G

    Big G LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    Ditto what MOW ED said.

    If you have lots of bare spots and they are due to thatch and not some other chemical reason, then dethatching first followed by aereation, seed, starter fert is the only way to go.

    It's late in the season to do this, but given your situation, it's your only alternative to having this lawn look bad all year & next spring.

    A thorough dethatching and all the other things that MOW ED said to do will initially make your lawn look worse due to tons of bare spots of soil & a general thinning of the grass you do have. But, if you water it (dampen it) twice a day for around 7 to 12 days, you will have a greener better looking lawn starting to come through. Overseed and aereate again in the fall, but do not dethatch again.

    The important thing is DO NOT USE fertilizer with anything in it but starter fertilizer. Crabgrass preventative will prevent/drastically reduce the germination of the seed you put down, which would be a disaster. Use a premium quality seed mix like a fescue blend from a reputable company. Do not use straw to cover the bare spots due to high weed seed content in straw. If you feel you must cover the bare spots tp reduce erosion, use a pelleted product that is manufactured for this purpose. There are several varieties, but I'm not sure if they are available at hardware stores, you might have to go to a contractor type supply house to get this.

    Good luck!

    Big G:)

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