Slit seed vs core aerate/seed

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by grassmasterswilson, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Messages: 4,988

    People here assume reseeding means care aeration and spread seed. I'm considering doing a few small lawns with a slit seeder as a comparison and hopefully can provide a premium service.

    So my question is how does the labor/time cost compare?

    In the past I would arrive at the lawn with two guys. I would start spreading starter fertilizer. The second guy will grab a rented wb aerator and start trimming obstacles and tight areas. I then hop in my owned ride on aerator to help with aeration. We then both spread seed and/or clean up.

    With the slit seeder I would assume you would seed first and then fertilize? We normally seed at 5lbs per 1000 and with this method would go over everything twice at right angles.

    I can charge 22-25 per 1000 and feel I make pretty good money.

    So my question is how the two compare time wise. I'd have to rent a slit seeder but rent a wb aerator anyway. I could send one guy to do a few smaller lawns or gated back yards.

    I could rent a turfcp ls-22. The web said it has a 30k per hour production rate. So a small 6k lawn could be fertilized and slit seeded in around 30 minutes or so??
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    Good idea, Master. I would like to see a comparison. Side by side. Is this TTTF?
    I am sure the 30,000 sqft per hour figure is a bit exaggerated. You could probably have one guy apply the fert and one guy apply the slit seed. 5000 sqft in 30 minutes. If you criss cross a bit with the fert and wouldn't matter.

    Compare the 5 pound seeding rate with 10 pounds--not all of it will take hold.

    Convince the customer it is better--as a slit seeder is used for seeding not aeration--puts the seed into the soil--does a better job. So you can charge more.
    Also allow the customer to choose--good seed or at extra cost--best seed.
  3. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Messages: 4,988


    I've tries to google and find some side by side trials that might show some results comparing each method.

    Seeding for us is still months away but I'm curious the difference in time it would take to do both methods. If they were about the same I wouldn't mind trying a few smaller lawns. It could serve as a good way to compare even if it wasn't the same lawn.

    I have quite a few who probably don't irrigate properly or have very thin or bare lawns by reseed time. If I could get them to do slit seeding then my hope is that the seed to soil contact would help germination.

    At a machine cost of $2000 it would be a pretty large investment for someone who only seeds 125-200k of turf....mostly which is seeded via core aeration.
  4. LawnForceOne

    LawnForceOne LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    Something ive always had a problem with is people will never water when you seed. Maybe one out of 20 will water at all. Ive tried slit seeding with mediocre succes and aeration overseeding and on those lawns that dont water only place i usually see germination is the aeration holes. its funny looking at first because the new grass is exactly the pattern of my aerator. I aerate maybe 2 inches for overseeding perposes. Really deep holes seem to close up and kill the new grass or no germination from being too deep i guess? Seems like the shallow holes hold water better than the surrounding ground which helps.
    I think this fall im gonna sell slit seeding and aeration separately but do it on the same visit (shouldnt be hard to sell because in my experience the person who will pay for overseeding cares enough about their turf to pay for aeration.) basically I would aerate first then slit seed which would give me the best of both worlds and i could charge more money since its 2 seperate services. Just a thought.
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    You could use a triple light aeration, like Force suggested.
    Or you could use triple the usual amount of seed--because only 50 percent will "take hold".
    Either way you don't need to buy more equipment.

    And yea, you don't have any way to assure good watering. Don't guarantee anything. Only go back at your regular rate per hour.
  6. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I think you will get more seed to pop with slit seeding. I am a big fan or aerating and overseeding though. Both is a great process. Topdressing it in is even better.

    For the yards where you try slit seeding instead of aeration plus seeding, I believe you will have much better results if you add as a first step: mow lower than it has been mowed all season and remove all the clippings.
  7. frotis

    frotis LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 396

    What about a good dethatching, when spread seed and then mulch the thatch with a mower to cover the seed. I wonder what time of germination you would get.
  8. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,956

    We used to do a lot of slit seeding. Two probs >> 1) uneven ground, 2) compacted soil.

    In loose loam soil, I prefer to spread the seed, then power rake twice (2nd time at a 45 degree angle)

    Dry or compacted or clay soils = I prefer to spread the seed first. Then core aerate multiple times. Then drag the area. This method not only seeds the areas, but it also "prepares the soil" as it relives soil compaction and creates a halfway decent seed bed.

    Placing grass seed in hard/clay soils seldom works as most folks never water twice per day like they say they do.

    A nice thing about our XT5 hydro aerators = you can aerate back & forth to work in the seed. Most of seeding involves seeding just the bad areas rather than entire lawns >>> usually bluegrass that died from lack of water/heat/sun/drought. But sometimes areas that are too shady (like me, lol)
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The seed needs to have a little cover, especially in full afternoon sunny areas,, and should have a bit of loose soil underneath to set root in... the soil overall needs to perculate water rather than puddle...

    If your aerating or slit seeding accomplishes these criteria,,, then you have a shot at the new grass... If a client is watering compacted soils 2-3 times per day, you still have garbage for turf, and lousy germination...
  10. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    Good comments, Larry.
    I understand that the grass seed takes in water (imbibes) for about 48 hours (if it is continually most) and then a tiny root comes out at night. If it can gain a tiny foothold in moist particles of soil before the hot sun dries it out next morning...the seed will take hold. A tiny green sprout will head straight up.

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