aeration and overseeding

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by t608, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Not only that,,, but imagine that some grass did find soft dirt around the hole and actually grow in these bare spots... what is growing in the hard soil that still remains, between the holes??? The only time an aerator works for seeding is when the lawn is really chewed up with 4 or more passes... It is less work than roto-tilling those areas... For barespots I use a garden weasel/grass stitcher and compost if necessary... hardpan bare spots require loosening of the whole spot,,, not a couple of holes poked here and there...
    You h.o. story was pretty good with the phrase,,, "He aerated it "wrong""... :)
     
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    The purpose of aeration is to relieve compaction ... so the answer to your question is, as deep as is necessary to relieve the compaction. If you don't know how deep that is, then as deep as you can get without damaging utilities.
     
  3. WildLake

    WildLake LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 368

    I can say without a doubt that aerating first, before applying seed, provides far superior results. Any time we aerate then seed over a large bare spot, all of the new grass is coming from the holes. Even if seed doesn't land in the whole, they get washed in later. The seed has a much better chance of being buried by the side wall of a 3"+ deep hole eroding/calapsing over it than a plug landing directly on top of it and staying there.

    Also from experience, I would say that the deeper the hole the better, for compaction and germination.
     
  4. Tommy77

    Tommy77 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    Thats my outlook on it too , It sounds like you've done your share of aerations to know it isnt a instant miracle but is a necessary part of a perfect lawn. And with all the variables that each lawn can have it seems like even a guy who has aerated 5000 lawns can learn something new. ( spiked a sprinkler head , soil condition poor , invisible fence punctured, tree roots , lack of sunlight , 2 inches of topsoil on top of gravel , stump burried , standing water after rain , gopher giving Bill Murray a hard time ) Theres always unusual problems that you can and will run into , but for all the newbies out there before searching for one of these problems check the first two most obvious culprits , 1. Is there enough sunlight for a blue/rye or do you need a fine fescue/ shade mix. 2. If nothing is growing at all its usually a soil nutrient/compaction problem and 9 times out of 10 when a customer agrees to pay for a soil sample test ( i send mine to penn state ) and they get the results back with recommendations of 100 lbs of lime per 1000 sqft and 5 lbs of starter per 1000 sqft they realize that they need the help of a professional and stop quoting what " a guy from work" told them. Soil tests might not make a ton of money initially but they sure are reliable and bring in more income when you lime / upgrade the fertilizer.

    I have a grass stitcher and it comes in handy a lot more than i thought it would . Its a great tool for the times when a mantis cultivator would do more harm than good. If i run into a large bare spot i sometimes drag the aerator backwards while the tines spin .It creates rows of cultivated soil. Its not easy but it works and you have to figure out where the line is for yourself as to where you draw the line between aerating and installing.
     
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Not a bad idea about dragging the aerator backwards over barespots... I rent a Turfco so I'll give it a try,,, if I have to aerate the lawn anyways, but there are sandy lawns that don't require aeration at all, so better seed bed techniques will be employed on these lawns...
    The thing I don't understand is why people connect aeration as being a necessary part of Fall seeding... I prefer not to aerate and only do it on lawns that would benefit...
     
  6. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,923

    I would say hugely beneficial rather than necessary. It is one of the steps IMO. I agree completely with WildLake above. That said, I am overseeding a football field next week where they cannot afford and do not absolutely need aerating (this year).I will tearing it up as much as possible with an implement I had made, then topdressing with about 25 yards of straight compost after dropping seed.

    Deepest I have ever been able to aerate is 11 1/2 - 12 inches, deep tine, no seeding was involved, no plugs removed. If I could design an ideal program for athletic fields it would be deep tine every other year, core aerate to about 5" in the other years and overseed on the years I core aerated. Hole spacing is at about 4"-5" depending on ground speed.
     
  7. WildLake

    WildLake LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 368

    Will you be using a top dresser? Ive never used one, but for a football field I think Id have to go that route.
     
  8. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,923

    Yes. I have an old ground driven Mete-R-Matic. I can get close to a yard init at a time. It works great! I load it with my big tractor and am able to pull it with a 30 year old 12 HP tractor. Might be a different story if it was hilly.
     
  9. WildLake

    WildLake LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 368

    Now you're talking... I didn't want to say it but you'd be crazy to spread that much by hand. Wish I had one of those but we don't do quite enough topdressing. No matter how beneficial, its a hard sell around here.
     
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Some times I wonder what these lawns look like when "Dollhair" grass germination is an improvement...

    My lawns have bare spots that may not even get a plug pulled from the actual dirt spot... The plugger pulls a lot of grass roots up and seed is unnecessary in those spots becuz the grass will continue to grow while the holes close up... they will grow more vigorously than b4 becuz the compaction is relieved and water/fert is getting to the roots... so seeding, those already green areas,, is a waste of seed...

    I agree that several passes over a lousy lawn can create an adequate seedbed, but how many lawns fit that description, year after year??? touchups here and there do not require a slit seeder or an aerator for seeding doll hair turf...
     

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