Young Lawn - Aeration vs Overseed, spring vs fall

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by GRT, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. GRT

    GRT LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    The lawn is contractor grade and 2 years old - about an acre. It's a patchy, there are some weeds, but it's decent enough not to scrap and start over.

    As we are coming into spring, should I focus on pre-emergent crabgrass and ferts and treat throughout the year, and then aerate/overseed in the fall? Should I aerate in the spring and overseed in the fall? Any guidance here would be most appreciated.

    I understand that core aeration plugs 2-4" and overseeders generally do <1". Is it more beneficial to overseed with an overseeder, or will core aeration and then seeding with a rotary spreader do just as good a job?

    Thanks,

    Geoff
     
  2. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,201

    You shouldn't need to aerate since this is a new yard, I doubt it has little if any compaction. Is crabgrass a problem in the yard now? If it is then put down a pre-emergent for crabgrass control and overseed in fall. If crabgrass or weeds are not a problem at this time overseed the entire lawn now with a good overseeder. Make sure you put down 6 pounds per 1000sqf that means 3lbs in one direction and 3lbs in another direction in a cross pattern and make sure to roll the lawn after your done seeding for good seed to soil contact then water. Make sure to put down a good starter fertilizer as well.
     
  3. GRT

    GRT LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    Hi lawnpro724 - thanks so much for the reply.

    There is crabgrass and some clover-type weeds in many spots. But I get your point - if I put down pre-emergent now, it will deminish any impact overseeding will do. So it's looking like my dollars would be best spent in the fall after a season of fert treatments.

    As for overseeding vs aeration, it sounds like i should use an overseeder. However, how do i know if my soil is compact?

    Sorry for all the newbie questions!

    Geoff
     
  4. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,201

    One easy way to tell if the ground is compacted is to take a nail say 4" or so and push it into the ground, if it goes in most or all the way with little force your lawn is not compacted. Using heavy mowers year after year or rolling your lawn when its to wet to roll or driving cars or trucks on the lawn all can lead to compaction. Since you stated that the lawn was only two years old I doubt it has any of these issues. Yes, you should use an overseeder to seed the lawn.
     
  5. Lawncop26

    Lawncop26 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    When you say contractor grade, do you mean new construction? If so you need to amend the soil, I noticed you stated about an acre, If your like me, bringing in four to six inches of new soil is out of the question, however, you can tend to the soil over time. Spread some topdressing, (compost, peatmoss, good soil mixed together) over the area and Aerate,Aerate, Aerate! This will make certain that the topdressing gets to where it needs to, the seeds as well. The whole concept of overseeding is seed to soil contact, I like to think of a "seed box", the bottom of the box being the soil, good soil is a must, one side of the box can be watering, crucial for germination, the other side of the box will be fertilizer, starter etc..., and the top of the box being sunlight, take away any part of the box and it will collapse, resulting in poor germination at best. Post a little more of your situtation if you can. Good luck.
     
  6. GRT

    GRT LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    You are exactly correct - new construction. Can I put down top soil with a spreader? Southern States has top soil on sale for $1.50 a bag right now. Based on the info I have so far, it sounds like I should:

    1. Aerate
    2. Put down new top soil with a spreader
    3. Pre-emergent fert
    4. Fert through the spring
    5. Fert for summer appropriately
    5. In fall, overseed
    6. Fall fert

    Am I on the right track?

    Geoff
     
  7. Lawncop26

    Lawncop26 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    What is your budget, are you doing all the work by yourself ? You are going to need to either rent a topdresser or rake the soil by hand, you may have a difficult time using a common type spreader. A topdresser does what you want to do with a spreader. At least a inch of topdress or better topsoil. There is no easy way around it, you either need to spend $$$ and have someone with the equipment do it for you or be prepared for some hard work! You need to amend that soil to get good germination. Your on the right path with your order of tasks, here is how I would do it:

    1. Aerate
    2. Address the soil issue (soil test) topdress with mixture of new soil/compost
    3. check your grade, so no drainage problems arise.
    4. seed with starter fert.
    5. water correctly
    6. continue with a regular fert program.
    I'm working now, so my time on here is limited, if you wish, PM me and I'll go into detail from start to finish. Just keep in mind, I have not seen the lawn, just going by what you post.
     
  8. DoetschOutdoor

    DoetschOutdoor LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S. IL
    Posts: 1,818

    Got any pics of the lawn? If the lawn is like the "contractor grade" lawns around here, they are thin enough to powerseed. I think that is what you were referring to as overseeding when you mentioned <1". Overseeding is just spreading seed with a spreader after you have aerated or whatever. It just depends on the lawn. If its not too thin and spread out, aeration then overseeding might work better. If its really bare, powerseed. Remember a thick lawn will crowd out weeds so if you dont have a bad weed problem now, you might be able to get some new grass growing here shortly.
     
  9. GRT

    GRT LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    Thanks, DoetschOutdoor, that's pretty much my understanding as well. When I use the term overseed - I think of using an overseeder (powerseeder) - but I think we're talking about the same thing.

    I aerated last night and also put down a pre-emergent. I saw evidence of crab grass and decided it was best to put that down rather than try to powerseed now and I will powerseed in the fall. It was a good amount of work with a core aerator! Never run one before, but very good results. We're expecting some rain all weekend in my area, so that will be good.

    I took a bunch of plugs from several different areas of the yard and will be taking them to southern states this AM for a soil test and should hear back in about a week.

    I can certainly post some pics. Actually, what I was thinking about doing was starting a case study that I take through the year that people can comment on.

    Thanks fellas

    Geoff
     
  10. GRT

    GRT LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    I was actually just looking at the Turfco website at a Powerseeder as I have a limited knowledge of what they do. My turf isn't quite that thin. You may be right in that aerating again in the fall and seeding may be more appropriate...posting pictures will help!
     

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