Aeration plug length of 2.5" vs. 3" or even deeper? What is ideal?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Exact Rototilling, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    How important is it to go beyond the 2.5" if your aerator has the ability [and soil conditions will allow this] to go beyond 3" such as a Lawn Solutions stander that weight in a 1200# and can pulling dramatically long plugs up to 6" long...?

    I'm under the impression that pulling cores through the thatch layer and the thickest and active part of the the root zone is the critical element of the core aeration process. The largely dirt portion of the plug is just icing on the cake and beneficial for the top dressing effect.


  2. R & R Yard Designs

    R & R Yard Designs LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 646

    Go as deep as you can. It helps I go for 4-6 inches
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  3. JFGauvreau

    JFGauvreau LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,297

    Ya but still, if the lawn had never been aerated before, then I would go as deep as I can.

    Like over here in Canada we have a lot of snow, so the soil always get compacted in the spring. All depends on the soil type and the climate.

    I would never go more than 3" in the spring otherwise you would tear apart the lawn lol
  4. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 878

    First I will tell you to not judge the aeration job you are doing by the length of the plug. You have to measure the hole to know what quality of job you are doing. The Quality of the job is judged by the number of holes per sq ft and the depth of the holes. Depending on the type of soil, moisture in the soil, condition of the tines, weight on the unit and speed of the unit the core size will vary or fall apart upon ejection from the tine.

    Depth has been an issue that has been debated for the 36 years I have been in this business. For home lawns I would say that if we get past the thatch layer and compaction layer we are in a good place. Say 2 to 3 inches as home lawns do not suffer the compaction that some turf (say golf greens) get. Traffic and compaction is usually local in nature like pathways and dog runs. These areas my need plenty of extra passes to do a good job. Thatch is a whole different ball game. The University of Nebraska did a study on Thatch Management using Aeration in which they concluded you could control the thatch layer by using aeration. The more you aerate the less thatch you will have to deal with. (providing the owner does not over feed and water the lawn growing more thatch than can be conrolled). You do need to get far enough thru the thatch to pull up some mineral soil..AKA Dirt or Plug. Rule of thumb is if thatch is 1 inch of less aerate the $%^&* out of it and reduce the thatch. More than 1 inch Dethatch and remove the thatch using some sort of mechanical means.

    This is a very short version of a one hour talk.
  5. JFGauvreau

    JFGauvreau LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,297

    Just to add to turfcobob on that last part you said.

    The plugs you pull from aeration can be a very good trick to up sell homeowners or simply to educated them. Some home owners have no idea what kind of soil they have, the plugs will tell you that. One time I was aerating this guys lawn and I notice the plugs weren't really brown dirt looking, in fact it was almost 2inches of thatch. So he purchased a de thatching service + an aeration.

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