Power Rake or Aerate

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by adawg88, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. adawg88

    adawg88 LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 27

    I have been spending a lot of time in the yard trying to gauge what my problems are with it. Basically, I have a lot of dead, dry grass matting down the healthy grass in my yard, killing it off and creating a lot of brown patches. I thought to help break this layer up I would aerate this weekend, but the more I research on this site, the more I think a power rake may be the better option. to give you an idea, in 2 minutes of light raking with a leaf rake I pulled up a wheelbarrow worth of dead grass.

    My yard is about an acre and a half, so no matter what I do it will be a day's worth of work. Was I right that aeration would break this up and benefor the grass or should I go with the rake that will pull up this dead stuff but may cause more harm to the turf?

    Any help is appreciated. I hope to get this done this weekend!
  2. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,584

    I'd do both. Power rake it and then aerate in 2 or 3 directions. Then overseed.
  3. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    Check to see just how much thatch you have. You can take samples across the lawn by using a soil sampler and pulling cores or you can take a knife and plug the lawn like you would a watermelon. Thatch is the dead layer of organic material at the top above the mineral (dirt) layer. If the thatch is more than 3/8 of an inch thick in norther grasses it needs to go. 1/4 inch is ok even good for most grasses. It is best not to expose the roots too much before the hot season.
    Check your thatch layer and dethatch if it is too thick. Then aerate the more holes the better. If the thatch is 3/8 or less just poke it full of holes and fertilize it.
    You can control the thatch layer with a continual program of aeration. See book by the Univ. of Nebraska on Thatch Management using aeration.
  4. adawg88

    adawg88 LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 27

    Thanks fellas. Bob - I went out and pulled a few plugs with a knife. The thatch depth is very shallow, not a lot sitting on the soil surface. The main problem is a large amount of dead grass sitting on top of the healthy grass. I have attached some pictures to show what I am talking about. In the first picture you can see a close up of the matted dead grass. This is the main area where it is the worst (back yard) but there are also other smaller sections that look the same. The second photo is a pulled back shot of the back lawn. You can see the matted grass at the bottom of the pic and the healthier stuff on the far side.

    Would aerating break up this matted grass on top of the other grass or does it only beneftir the thatch on the soil surface?

    Sorry for the basic questions. I am just very new at this.

    Close up.JPG

  5. K.Carothers

    K.Carothers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    It looks like the grass never had a final cut last season.

    Did it?

    Is the grass zoysia?

  6. adawg88

    adawg88 LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 27

    Yep, it got a final cut. This all stems from when I bought my house last fall. After the offer was accepted the guy let the grass grow for almost a month without cutting (got to 7 or so inches I would guess) then chopped it down. Since then it has been very heavily matted. His long clippings just sit on top and brown, never seeming to break down. I wanted to clean it up last fall, but time got away from me, so it is totally delayed maintainance. The grass is mostly KBG.

    Given this, do you think I am better off power raking with spring tines to pull this crap to the surface or aerating it to try and break it up? Suggestions are appreciated, I am hoping to rent in the morning to get started on this.
  7. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    I would go in and Mow / Vac at 1/2 inch shorter than normal picking up all the clippings. that will get you the dead grass on top. then aerate with at least 12 to 14 holes per foot and fertilize / water the same day...Stand back and you will almost watch the grass grow. The grass mowed shorter than normal will react very quickly with the fert to send up new green shoots and look nice in a few days..Providing you get some sunshine and rain..
  8. KathysLGC

    KathysLGC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,345

    I agree with Bob. Mow it and bag it then Aerate. It doesn't look like you need to power rack it.
  9. adawg88

    adawg88 LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 27

    Thanks for the advice fellas. I ended up cutting the grass a 1/2" lower than normal on Friday. I planned to aerate but none of the rental places around here had a core aerator (tow behind) available. I ended up buying a cheap Agri-fab pull-behind tine rake. I was not prepared for all the crap it pulled to the surface. I've done about 3/4 of an acre so far and filled up the bed of my F-150 four times. I still have another 3/4 acres left. I think I have the process down now - tine rake, blow it in to piles with my dad's Stihl BG85 (I will be buying one of those later this week, it is great) then into the bed of the truck.

    Anyway, a family friend runs a small lawn business and he has offered me use of his core aerator. The problem is it might be a few weeks before I can get it from him. I need to get this fert down SOON. It is Lesco fert w/ dimension. Will putting that down then aerating break the surface protection and make the weed killer useless?

    Thanks again everyone...

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