Best way to Aerate and Top Dress a large cemetery

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by JoeKidd, May 27, 2008.

  1. JoeKidd

    JoeKidd LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    I'm looking for advice on how you would go about aerating a 24 acre cemetery. I'm planning it for the fall along with some overseeding and top dressing. I've never used a aerating machine of any kind so I don't know whats possible. I imagine I want to avoid going over any of the thousands of flat stone markers with it right? We have John Deere 335 tractors and a mini Z so I'm thinking a tow behind attachment might be the best route but will I be able to raise and lower it over these stone markers...will this big a big paine in the arse?.. Or should I just rent the walk behind machine and do it carefully.

    What about top dressing the place? Whats the best route to take there? I was thinking about trying to talk my boss into buying one of those R&R power turf top dressing machines or is their a cheaper way that does just as good?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Acswaupaca1

    Acswaupaca1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 491 Charge by the hour! + materials
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    24 A. ?

    Try a flat disc.

    I was thinking about the best way to 'revitalize' some overworked pastureland that is only about 5 A. outside the barnyard. An aerator never entered my mind. If people will pay for it though - why not!?!

    Never give a sucker an even break :)
  4. Oasis-Outdoor

    Oasis-Outdoor LawnSite Member
    Messages: 178

    The job would be much easier with a pull behind machine or or a ride-on variety. If you have never run some of the aerators: they are beasts that kinda drag you along for the ride. Ditto on "lawnproslawncare" suggestion of bidding by the hour and materials.You definitely want to keep from running your implements over the grave markers, stones. Can you imagine the grief if you scrape and nick a bunch of brass, bronze markers? I have not used one of the powered topdresser machines, but would be interested in feedback also. Anyhow, good luck with your bid.
  5. JoeKidd

    JoeKidd LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    Okay let me clarify the situation for you guys. I work at a cemetery that puts aa ton of money into maintaining it but the people in charge and most of the workers don't know too much about maintaining turf properly.The 24 acres includes roads, buildings, three 1 acre empty fields, and all the area that the stones take up. The grounds haven't been aerated in a very long time...if ever. The turf see's a lot of heavy traffic from all the mowing and the back hoes that dig the graves from time to time.

    The mowing is done with John Deere 335 garden tractors, a mini Z, and a 410 tractor with a tow behind deck. The three open fields the 410 has been mowing are down on the lower end of the place and they are full of ruts from some improper mowing over the years.

    Anyway let me tell you whats been going on with this grass. The turf has been drying up extremely quick the past few years and the weeds are taking over. They have put down blindly(without a soil test) two applications of Lime Rite(Spring&Fall) and Two applications of like Pro Scape slow release fertilizer(Spring&Fall). The soil is void of any worms, sign of life in this stuff. The grass roots are only about 3 inches long on average and theirs a good build up of thatch in a lot of places. The grass takes off in the early spring and grows extremely fast. So fast that after seven days your cutting much more than just 1/3rd of it.... more like half. After three or four good mowing this year it's already Browning up. Granted we've had very little rain up here in new Hampshire but they do water the place from like 7am-3pm. They always wait until it starts to brown before they start watering it...drives me crazy. They also water in the middle of the day in the blazing sun...which also drives me nuts.

    As you can see lots of problems going on here. I just want to help get this turf back in shape and thought aerating in the fall, overseeding with a slit seeder, and then top dressing it with a good organic compost mix would be a good first step. Now I understand a tow behind would be the best option but with all the flat markers I think it would be impossible. I will look into the rider models but wouldn't it benefit this place just to purchase three or four good walk behind models and do at least once a year? Its a five man crew and we could spread it out over a two to three week period so we wouldn't kill ourselves.
  6. jbturf

    jbturf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,502

    i would suggest b4 undertaking such a large project,
    you address the short comings in the maintenance
    practices ie mowing/watering/treatments etc...

    and certainly pull some soil plugs and get a soil test done
  7. OBXFrank

    OBXFrank LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    IMHO, aeration is just what this place needs. It will help almost all of those problems; thatch, root growth, help bring the bugs back (oxygenation), as well as assist (in the long run) with water retention. I use a 48" Agrifab tow-behind with my TurboForce 48" ZTR that does a good job, and I price it by size, but have never had a job that big before. It's going to take awhile, and after aerating a small 2 acre cemetary, yes, lifting and dropping the tines constantly is a bear, but you charge accordingly.

    A second thought: get a proper soil test before you let them put down any more lime; they could be exacarbating the problem!

    KACYDS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 559

    With any job you about to start with, always do a soil test first to see with you dealing with.
  9. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    A three point hitch model aerator would be easier to maneuver around the stones than a tow behind.
  10. JoeKidd

    JoeKidd LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    Thanks for all the input guys. After a bit of looking around on the net I think I'm going to suggest getting two tow behind Agri-Fab commercial plug aerators. What do you think? Will they do the job or what?


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