Height of grass when aerating? How short?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by David W, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. David W

    David W LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    Quick question for you guys.

    I am planning on renting a RYAN aerator this week to do some aerating and over-seeding.

    I know to mow before aerating but how short do you cut? I cut most tall type fescue awns at 3.5", 3.75" and sometimes even 4" inches.

    How short should I mow before...around 3" maybe or just at normal cutting height?

    What do you guys normally do when aerating fescue?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. dave k

    dave k LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,177

    I live in the Atlanta area, I cut down as low as possible maybe 1.5 or 2 inches since you won't be cutting for a few weeks untill the seed start;s to germinate.
  3. johnscag

    johnscag LawnSite Member
    from Balt md
    Messages: 57

    I do mine here @ 2 3/4 - 2 1/2
  4. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    cut as low as possbile so you can see your pattern and to get plenty of sunlight to quicken seed germination.
  5. David W

    David W LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    10-4 thanks for the replies.

    A couple of lawns are very thick and green but I still want to aerate them as they have been getting disease the past couple of summers. They always recooperate well by fall but still want to aerate. Is there any harm in not cutting these too short.

    I can understand cutting short if the lawn is sparse but with lawns of fescue that are generally healthy can you just aerate them without cutting too short. Is it as effective?

    Sorry for the questions, but I have never aerated before.
  6. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    The taller the grass the more it will keep the aerator from getting good penetration. The lower the grass the better the hole. That is how it works. Also if you cut it low, fert and water right behind the aeration they will get somw quick green growth. Makes them feel better about the aeration cost.

    Now on good lush lawns you have another problem. If the lawn has a lot of thatch it will cause you problems. Thatch is very hard for aerators to cut through. A thick canopy of say 1 inch of thatch will make you get really small cores. If a lawn has 1 inch of thatch it should be removed first. The thatch may be causing the problem. Remember anything on the surface of the dirt (mineral soil) will keep you from getting a good hole. AND Always measure the hole not the core on the surface. Take a pocket knife or bic pen, put it in the hole and see how deep you are in the DIRT. You should be at least 2 inches for most turf..
    Now when you go to pick up the aerator be sure and check the tines. Rental people tend the let the tines wear way down. Thus small shallow holes...The tine should have at least a half inch ange hole or slope down to a nice tip. If the tine is worn flat on the end it will do a terrible job of aeration. A flat tine is a worn out tine. The tip has to be there to cut the hole and sever the roots in the bottom of the hole as the tine exicutes it's X manuver in the ground. A flat tine is a bad tine you will not be happy with the job it does.

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