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Aerate or dethatch

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by The Lawn Man9, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. The Lawn Man9

    The Lawn Man9 LawnSite Member
    from WI
    Messages: 11

    I had a customer call to dethatch his yard but when I looked at it he has minimal thatch, he was not home at the time. So should I recommend I aerate the lawn instead, I dont think dethatching would be any benefit? He also has a newly planted part of his lawn by his new garage. Does it pay to dethatch or aerate that part since it is just a year old? I live in Wisconsin. Thanks
  2. The Lawn Man9

    The Lawn Man9 LawnSite Member
    from WI
    Messages: 11

    Also want to add before someone says don't do anything to it the thatch was about a 1/2 inch.
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    If he is one who over-waters and has 5-7 step program for too-much fertilizer, it really doesn't make a difference what you do!!!
    When you say "Thatch", what do you mean??? dead brown grass layer? or the black hydrophobic layer?
  4. The Lawn Man9

    The Lawn Man9 LawnSite Member
    from WI
    Messages: 11

    No it is thatch I know what it is. I don't know how much he waters or ferts. I was just wondering if it would be more beneficial to aerate it because I will be renting a aerator next week for my messed up yard.
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,721

    Aeration is easier--and you don't have to haul away and dispose of all that dead residue. If you can get him to agree, go with aeration. Unless you enjoy raking up all that brown residue.
    To induce cus to agree, add liquid (snake oil?) aeration bacteria and enzymes, and include a premium top-quality fert with iron that promotes fast green up. Follow up with premium seed, (or, if not, crabgrass control).

    And charge what it costs...raking up all that residue is labor intensive.

    Not to mention it thins the lawn and sets it up for weeds and crabgrass.

    Be prepared to meet with customer and talk him out of damage due to power-raking.
  6. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    If your client or potential client is open to aeration instead of a true flail blade full throttle dethatch [not those passive 3 rows of spring thingies that are mounted on the front a ZTR that just get the loose debris] that is half the battle.

    The problem with aeration marketing I have run into is many do not believe it does much in any good....and there is good reason for it. Most of the companies in my area only do a single pass - and the plugs are not evident till your up close to the lawn. As single pass with a standard rolling tine machine doesn't do enough to deal with thatch. You really have to impact a much higher percentage of surface area of soil volume and surface area to really help. Dirt plug top dress effect. You will see it all spelled out here. In fact I hand these out to my prospective customers. http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/pubs/AY-8.pdf

    This is question @ RigglePLC,

    If the customer already has thatch do we really want to promote a fast green up fert.....? Is this not what may have contributed to the initial thatch issue. People like quick results but......?

    Seriously ....I know this is a good move for the lawn but not nessasily for a pleased or happy customer impressed with a quick spring green up. In this pic off my Co. Facebook page. My company mascot Lucy is standing a a 100% organic DPW [dried poultry waste] bag with relatively low NPK #’s 5-2-5. The same product is in the spreader. The message is safe for pets.

    I have another product that I use that is 14-2-5 and has Iron plus a tad bit of sulfur and DPW.

    Any input....?

  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,721

    Great photo of Lucy. Hopefully you can get a photo on greener grass for next year.
    How do you like the new Earthway spreader? Even spread? Easy push?

    I am thinking, thatch is mainly a function of an aggressive type of sod cultivar. Sod cultivars that are fast spreaders and highly rhizomatous tend to form thatch. Tight sod. Many times they are also very slow to green up in the spring. So the customer sees brown grass and wants something done. Better seed can result in a better lawn--even if it is still slow to greenup.

    Does quick release nitrogen cause thatch...any more than slow release nitrogen? If so, how much more as a percentage?

    I did some experiments applying fert in late October and late November. Side by side. Still waiting for results--no difference yet.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It isn't slow vs. fast release, so much as it is, Timing... the problem with early fertilization is that it causes roots to grow upwards, before they ever had a chance to grow downward into the soil...

    Slow release is also supposed to be able to encourage roots to grow normally, better than fast release, but not sure why... :)
  9. humble1

    humble1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,519

    Thatch layer builds every year, I would dethatch. Aeration in the spring is just bad practice punching holes just opens up a perfect storm for weeds.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Really? Have any credible references to support this statement?

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