help with aerating

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by ukcats, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. ukcats

    ukcats LawnSite Member
    Messages: 158

    This is my first year mowing alone. I had a customer ask about aerating and putting down fertilizer and seed. My question is after I aerate the lawn and put some fertilizer down with the seeds will I need to cover it with straw or compost?
    Or since I aerated just lay the fertilizer down and seed and let it go. Going to do this end of Sept first of Oct I'm in central pa and was wondering whats a good fertilizer to put down and good seed?
  2. atouchofnature

    atouchofnature LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    Over the years I have used a lot of different methods to varying degrees of success. I'm going to give you a few different answers to your question. I'm sure that other people will have other ideas, and theirs may or may not be better. What I am telling you is based upon my personal experience.

    The cheapest method - apply 1 lb. urea + 1 lb. 19-19-19 per 1000 sq. ft. Go over the lawn 3 times with the aerator overall, and go over it an additional 2 times with the aerator in bare/thin spots. In my experience, you can expect about 35 - 40% seed germination if watering is done properly with this method. You can boost germination by another 10% or so if you put a thin layer of topsoil over the seed in thin areas and roll the entire lawn afterwards.

    The organic method - Go over the lawn 3 times with aerator, an additional 2 times in thin/bare areas. Topdress entire lawn with compost. Spray with compost tea. Use a good organic fertilizer at a rate to get about 3/4 lb. nitrogen per 1000 square feet. I personally like to use alfalfa meal, as it has a natural hormone that will improve seedling vigor. In my experience, you can expect around 50 - 60% germination with this method if watering is done properly.

    My favorite method - Go over the lawn 3 times with aerator, an additional 2 times in thin/bare areas. Topdress entire lawn with compost. Spray with compost tea, humic acid, kelp & molasses. For the fertilizer apply 1/2 lb urea + 1/2 lb 19-19-19 + 9 lbs alfalfa meal + 3 lbs bone meal per 1000 sq. ft. I would expect 75% germination with this one.

    Since you are in PA, somewhat near the Hershey folks, if the lawn is terribly compact or has high clay content, I would consider applying some cocoa hulls immediately after the lawn is aerated. For my area, I like to apply about 50 lbs/1000 sq. ft of soybean hulls in such cases. Keep in mind that you shouldn't try this on a windy day, the hulls are so light that half of what you apply would wind up in a neighbor's lawn. If it is windy use gypsum or greensand instead.

    With any method, watering heavily immediately after you finish will help. Also, germination rates that I mentioned are estimated, and piling on a lot of extra seed will not likely give a great deal better results (a mistake I made several times my first few years).

    Search around the website of the nearest university to you that has a horticulture department. You will likely find some recommendations for type of seed & application rates for your area.

    I probably told you more than you wanted to know, but I like to be thorough. Keep in mind that every lawn is different, and what works in one lawn may not work in the lawn next door.
  3. TennisBum

    TennisBum LawnSite Member
    Messages: 185

    All you need to do is aerate the lawn really good and put down your seed and starter fert. The grass will sprout out of the holes like babydoll hair.
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Consider it your winterizer application.

    [[rant alert...] There isn't a lawn in the country that needs as much P as it does N!??!! This is why gov't has to outlaw the use of P, because people continue to put down 19-19-19 on lawns. Self government is impossible it seems. :( ]

    A little N & K should be fine.
    Getting the compost into the holes b4 the seed is a better idea. Grass germinates almost anywhere, but is not likely to survive in the bottom of a 2-3 inch hole.

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