Archive for the ‘Aeration or Core Aeration’ Category

Beneficial fall lawn aeration

Published by mrgrass on August 23rd, 2013 - in Aeration or Core Aeration

Fall aeration ranks high in terms of benefit to any home or commercial lawn for the money invested.  Proper lawn aeration will remove one inch diameter cores to a depth of approximately two to three inches.  Poor results may occur with dull or worn tines and very dry soil.  This process physically removes a plug by running a hand operated machine over your lawn, much like mowing.  Aeration removes thatch, soil, and grass plants in these plugs and deposits them on the surface of your lawn to decompose.  A good aeration will allow air and water to infiltrate into the holes, allowing surrounding grass plants an opportunity to expand with decreased compaction.  Aeration also allows for over seeding, a process in which hybrid grass blends are deposited into the core holes to germinate and fill in thin areas.  Much like hair plugs in people, over seeding is a great way to change the actual grass composition of your lawn over time, improving its ability to withstand drought, insect, and disease issues. 

Core aerator tines

Sharp tines are important to perform a high quality aeration job on your lawn.

Over seeding is not meant to establish a lawn in large bare spots or patches.  However, if you top-dress with compost or loam along with aeration and over seeding, you can create a nice seedbed and accomplish three tasks at once during autumn.  Fall is the best time to aerate and over seed because annual weeds are dying (the competition), soil is warm for faster germination, and moisture is generally adequate.  Since the grass seed is deposited down into the holes, irrigation is not critical, but recommended for optimum results.  Most soil types stay damp/moist at a depth of 2-3” so watering is not as important as surface seeding, but again, is recommended if possible.

With so much disease and chinch bug damage this past summer, aeration and over seeding could be your ticket to regaining and setting your lawn up for the spring of 2014.  If you are planning on waiting until next spring for lawn repairs, consider the fact that you won’t be able to apply crabgrass or weed control and seed simultaneously in most situations.  Also, take into account colder soil and later susceptibility to summer diseases and you are not obtaining the best value for your time and money with spring seeding.  Spring aeration on its own is fine if done in the spring or fall.   Although there are exceptions to these spring problems, fall is clearly the best time for aeration and over seeding. And after a tough summer, other wonderful fall treatments include lime, compost tea, fertilizer, and potassium.  

If your kids are headed back to school, put aeration and over seeding on your “to do” list along with clothes and school supplies!

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2013 Top 5 lawn treatments for your dollar spent

Most can agree that there are certainly some basics to really providing visible improvement in lawns, from color, to density, or reduced weeds.  If there was an overall wish list for lawn treatments, a list which highlighted the best of the best, the hardest working, the biggest bang for your buck; would you be interested?  I thought so.

Top 5 lawn treatments for your dollar

Without question, fertilizer is at the top of the list for several reasons.  First, grass appreciates the additional nutrient supply in order to improve color and increase growth both above and below ground.  You can serve up your fertilizer varying from slow release, all organic, a natural blend, or a conventional fast release product.  Each type of fertilizer has its advantages and disadvantages depending upon how fast you are trying to improve your lawn, your proximity to surface water/wells, or disposition for organic things in life.  The underlying focus of fertilizer is simple; give the lawn a boost to make it healthier by growing better than surrounding weeds.  This is where fertilizer needs some additional help in our wish list for the most beneficial lawn treatments for your money.

It may go without saying, but lime is not what your grandfather used to use back in the day.  In fact, lime has been formulated to address more than just a simple pH adjustment.  Since grass appreciates a slightly acidic pH (6.5 to 6.7) for maximum health, what else can lime do that you may not know?  I prefer a high calcium lime, pelletized for easy application and loaded with calcium to help improve the cation exchange in the soil.  Cation what you say?  Well, simply put – a high calcium lime actually helps soften soils, it’s a natural material to improve soil structure and this in turns makes growing roots a lot easier.  More roots, better lawn, thicker lawn!  Lime and fertilizer go together like peanut butter and jelly; they are good friends and do a lot for the dollar spent.

The third lawn application that is underrated but is more valuable than people realize is core aeration.  Yes, core aeration is a form of dethatching so don’t get too excited.  Core aeration is probably the single most beneficial non-chemical, all organic treatment you can do for your lawn.  I’m not talking about sweet little metal stars that you pull and rotate with your home lawn tractor.  I’m not talking about shoes with spikes in them where you walk around and believe in your deepest heart that this is the best form of aeration since color TV.  No, real core aeration physically pulls a 1” or so diameter core with hollow tines which goes down several inches and deposits a plug on the surface of the lawn.  The result is a grid of small holes in the lawn which then allows in air, lime, fertilizer, water, and a place to seed into!  Wow, I can feel the difference just writing about it.  Core aeration should be an annual, or every other year process to keep even a healthy lawn in check.  There is a good reason golf courses aerate all the time, it works!  Do yourself a favor in 2013, have your lawn aerated!  You’ll sleep better at night.

Sea kelp or Compost tea don’t normally come up at the dinner table when folks think about improving their lawns or when reviewing a conventional turf contract for the spring.  In fact, I’m sure every man would fall over if his wife or girlfriend turned to him at dinner and said, “Hey honey, why don’t we try sea kelp this year on the lawn?  I hear it is full of organic matter, amino acids, and good stuff like that!”  I myself might even shed a tear at such a revelation but most others would be petrified.  The fact remains, she is right – compost tea and sea kelp are super at providing micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria, exactly what most lawns lack from abuse or low organic matter after the house was built. Poor soil is one of the leading causes of nasty looking lawns and no matter how much fertilizer and lime is applied, your lawn will only rise to a mediocre level at best.  Adding compost tea and/or sea kelp is a great way to build up a healthier lawn from the soil up.  A great house must be built on a solid foundation, so must a lawn be grown from soil that is better than sand, gravel, back-fill, or compacted clay.  If you have never considered compost tea or sea kelp, give it some serious thought because whoever brings it up first at the dinner table wins!

The last treatment which ends this blog post and ends up coming in at the number five position is insect control.  I mean grubs below ground or chinch bugs on the surface.  Nothing will destroy your lawn without you noticing until the damage is done like insects.  Weeds cannot damage or kill a lawn like a grub infestation can.  While the hot, dry weather of 2012 behind us, the pests remain and will continue to wreak havoc in NH and VT lawns well into the early summer of 2013.  Please don’t waste your money on milky spore either, a product designed for use down south, not to mention it only works on one type of beetle under ideal conditions.  We have over a half dozen grub beetles in our growing area, so save the coin and have a treatment done professionally.  There are good organic products available for all of these pests as well as great newer treatments in a more conventional mode.  If you had insect problems in 2012 resulting in skunks digging and crows tearing up and tossing turf, get some help!

turf@chippersinc.com

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Spring lawn checklist for 2013

  • Your spring lawn checklist should include a review of your 2013 turf contract this winter or spring to take advantage of any preseason savings and to insure the work will be scheduled on a timely basis.  Lawn care companies are expecting an unprecedented high volume of work due to the heat, drought, and insect damage of 2012.

2013 spring lawn checklist, review it closely.

 

  • Check for grubs or other past insect damage (treat accordingly).
  • Schedule any renovation work early, as the demand will quickly find quality companies becoming booked with spring work, leaving you with limited choices or having to wait until fall.
  • Schedule your spring core aeration if you skipped it in 2012.
  • Schedule your spring lime and crabgrass inhibitor to get your lawn off to a good start.
  • Watch for ticks in April and May as the adults emerge looking for a meal!
  • Wait until the ground warms sufficiently before attempting any seeding.  April seeding generally does not perform well due to cold soil temperatures, even in southern NH.
  • Remove any debris which may have covered your lawn and cause harm such as branches, piles of leaves, plowed up sod, or gravel along the driveway.
  • Mow your lawn to 1.5 to 2” to help speed up soil warming in the spring. .  If the cut is good, just give your lawn a good raking an early spring weekend.
  • Do not dethatch or “power rake” your lawn unless it has a severe thatch issue.  This process causes more issues than it solves by tearing up healthy plants, dormant leaves and discourages a healthy recovery after winter.  Snow mold or winter damage will be magnified with power dethatching.  Save this process for the fall if you really need to see that huge pile of dethatched grass.
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