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results for slit seeding vs core aeration/overseed

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by grassmasterswilson, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Fanatic
    from nc
    Messages: 5,203

    I'm in North Carolina. From June-August our temps are in the 90's-100's and many times it is dry. So fescue isn't the best choice, but that is something that many people only know. While they have shade the heat and humidity take care of most lawns.

    I've finished all my seeding and many have been cut the first time. I'm never really pleased with the results, but many of my customers don't water properly or even have irrigation. Lawns look great from the road, but once on them you see thin spots. So, I'm looking for some info or recommendations on what steps to take to do things better.

    CORE AERATION - this is my normal process and many people only know this method. I apply starter(lime was done earlier), aerate with a rental walkbehind clausen aerator or my Lawn solutions ride on, we then apply seed at a rate of 6 lbs per 1000. The results are decent, but some areas are plugged looking and in bare spots it may not germinate. As the blades grow and thicken it begins to look ok, but not sod quality. My thoughts are next year to apply more seed. since germination is only 85% at 6lb only 5lbs will germinate? Maybe double pass aeration?

    SLIT SEEDING - I've never seen anyone in my area use this method. Think my rental company has a turfco 20 model?? What is the labor of running this machine compared to normal aeration? What prices are you getting 20 + seed cost per 1000? Double your aeration rate? I've read some guys do double pass at 1/2 rate of seed each time or some broadcast some seed and then do a single pass.

    So i'm trying to give my customers options and wonder what your experiences are. would you say slit seeding will provide better results? slit seeding is 50% more effective than the core aeration method? Could you use 5 lbs of seed slit seeding vs. 7 lbs core aeration and get the same result?

    I'm hoping that if I can create a thicker turf it will last much longer through the heat.
  2. OP

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Fanatic
    from nc
    Messages: 5,203

    pro's and con's from what I can gather....

    Core aeration
    -core aeration relives compaction
    -may get "plug" look

    Slit seeding
    -more expensive
    -better germination due to seed to soil contact
    -seed is planted much like a farmer plants crops(we are a farming town)
    -no plug look and more even look
    -could use less seed and get same look as core aeration?
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,080

    I still think it was odd that aeration became a 'seeding' method...
    a slit-seeder works the soil and hopefully some dead grass debris, in order that the seed may nestle into the little grooves created... after watering the seed is covered by some loose soil and hopefully some dead grass debris, to start phase I of the process i.e., soak up the water...

    The farm crop analogy wasn't bad, but there is a distinct difference between planting grasses with an agricultural drill and a slit-seeder... the drill actually open the soil, drops the seed into the furrow then covers it up... the slit-seeder relies on the water to settle it into the loosened soil...

    just like the only real germination that oftentimes appears with a slit-seeder are the rows, that with the loosened soil, the same is true of the loosened soil around/in the holes... The compacted hydrophobic surface of the rest of the open soil doesn't have the wherewithal to allow seed to germinate there...
  4. TruSomethingOrOther

    TruSomethingOrOther LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    IMO aerating / overseed is to thicken up an existing lawn. An actual slit seeder is to renovate a lawn (droughts, major fert burns, dogs, etc). To get rid of that row by row look of the slicer, double pass at a north - south then east - west.
  5. Dave Stuart

    Dave Stuart LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    There will be many different opinions on this, most of us have methodology that has worked well for us in the past. For the last 27 years of my lawncare career I have seen " seeding " services morph from one extreme to the Next.

    Aeration is more of a maintenance service not really designed for lawn establishment, it relieves compaction, introduces oxygen into the root zone which increases microbe activity to help decompose thatch as well as promote lateral propagation of rhizomes and other perennial parts, it is primarily designed for established turf stands that are in need of the above maintenance, with that said Axes quote in my opinion is 100% right. How did it become a service considered for uniform establishment of a turf stand??...

    The answer / marketing by big companies that sold the service on that very premise and distorted the Agronomic principles of beneficial services.

    Slit seeding is a very effective method for establishing a lawn uniformly and depending on the density and native monocots already existing on the site can be utilized one, two or multiple ways, this method makes good seed to soil contact and slightly covers the seed pod and allows for proper hydrolysis to take place.

    The key to proper slit seeding ( find a really good piece of equipment ) / the only really good hand held models in my opinion are :

    Toro hydrostatic
    Lawn solutions hydrostatic

    I prefer a land pride 38" PTO driven seeder behind a tractor for most of the open work, then utilize the smaller ones for the trim and clean up.

    Success cultivating depends on timing, proper seed selection, equipment, and knowledge in which method suits which situation as well as weather monitoring.

  6. jfoxtrot9

    jfoxtrot9 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 298

    The basics of everything stated by Smallaxe and Dave Stuart are true concerning both aeration and slit seeding. I agree that the main function of aeration is lawn maintenance.

    With that said, I can state that it is a fact that aerating and over-seeding to help thicken a poor to decent stand of grass does work given that whatever the cause for the weak stand of lawn is addressed and corrected. I say this as a fact with confidence because I have done it multiple times over the years. This includes success this year with what appears to be a very good germination rate. This also recommended by the Ohio State University Extension Office. http://ohioline.osu.edu/srt-fact/0002.html

    Now, I am not arguing that this is the best method to germinate grass. I am just saying that it is a tool that we have to help improve a lawn. It works. I know because I use it. I do several lawns a year and most with success and even better without irrigation by the home owner because of the time of year that it is typically done. The plugs and holes DO provide soil for the seed to have contact with. Also, typically where the lawn may be very thin, I will double or triple aerate the area, seed and then drag a couple times with a rake and always get pretty good results as well. It is a quick and easy way to improve a lawn.

    My only question, that I wish I knew is, what is the germination rate? What percentage of loss of seed is there? And how late in the year does this worsen? I see my best results with the lawns that are done earlier in the "aeration season" (for me late august until late october considering enough soil moisture to do so) I use a 50/50% blue/rye mix from late August to later Sept, then switch to a 75/25% blue/rye, then to 100% rye around the first week of Oct. I always prefer to over-seed earlier in the year, but you all know we get the calls much later than any of us would recommend for over-seeding, in which I do my best to educate the customer.
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,565

    Interesting questions. How much aeration is enough? How much is too much? How deep should you go? 2 inches? One-inch? Half-inch?
    I see the problem as, after you plant the seed...in an experiment...how do you tell which part is new grass--and which is old grass?
    Perhaps a test could be simplified by running the test on bare soil. Compare different depths and different numbers of holes per sq foot. Simple to do...just count out 1000 seeds per square foot. And have at it.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,080

    Double or triple aeration passes and then dragging does indeed expand the prepared area, beyond the loosened soil around the individual holes...

    Now that we have rain I'll be doing an aeration in which triple passes are a minimum,,, then the areas in question will be raked out,,, almost as though it was 'tilled',,, then seeded with another raking to mix the seed...

    I expect germination rate to be rather high in those areas,,, even if it is a frost seeding and they don't germinate until Spring... in the 'normal areas, I'll likely not even put down any seed, in that the holes will close up eventually and the grass will be thicker right there...

    Aerating will be fine IF it has to be done anyways... but if those areas in question were not part of a lawn that needed aeration,, I would focus on seeding(create perfect seedbed) rather than making a big mess with the aerator over the entire area, first...
    One of the chief reasons against Spring aeration is becuz clients don't want that mess in their yard... :)
  9. lalllc

    lalllc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    if you seed in a core hole it will grow in patchy. seeding this way is for, good lawns. slit seeding is best if lawn is week or dead. You will have more in labor but the lawn will look good. Next I used scotts seed from lows on my lawn last fall to seed the kids swingset spot that we put back to lawn from mulch. I slit seeded it in. it was called midwest mix. we left the much and seeded over it .(IT was my lawn) when the drought hit. it was the greenest grass all year. I lost all of my lawn but that spot. it is now all midwest mix and it looks awesome! good color and soft. no joke. it cost me $65 a bag and will do about the size of a tennis court. So I would say if the lawn is dead slit seed dont core seed!
  10. lalllc

    lalllc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    the depth should be no more than past your second knuckle on your finger. you can tell if grass is old if it is shooting rhizomes in a fescue. and blue grass is a big tuff. I would say for how we do it(plug) is we take a pass one way then cross it once. more in clay by one cross pass.

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