Posts Tagged ‘aeration’

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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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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A look back at the 2012 lawn care season.

There is little disputing the 2012 growing season was a record breaker in more than one area.  Extreme heat and corresponding drought caused widespread damage to even well cared for lawns.  The effect of these weather phenomena then led to massive explosions of pests like grubs and chinch bugs.  Even with November fast approaching, the pest issues will spill over into the spring of 2013, and if left untreated, will continue to cause turf damage.  There is little that can be done for physical lawn repairs at this point in the growing season like bringing in new loam or trying to establish a lawn through seeding.  However, beneficial turf treatments applied now like potassium, lime, compost tea, sea kelp, and slow release fertilizer can help both a damaged and healthy lawn.  Lawn repairs ranging from small to full renovations should be explored now or at least during the winter months as landscapers and lawn care companies will be overwhelmed this spring by sheer volume of repairs necessary never mind pest treatments.  Timing could not be more critical in terms of seeding and treating for damaging turf and ornamental pests than the spring of 2013.  Even if the weather pattern returns to a more “normal” or stable pattern, the repercussions of this season’s heat and drought will continue into 2013.  Although brown grass in October can be a result of past drought and exposure to dry weather, it can also spell bug troubles in the surrounding lawn as grubs vigorously eat fast growing root systems.

Don't wait until the spring to make your lawn plans

I am seeing grubs in record setting numbers and on lawns which have never had a past issue.  While a curative treatment is only a short term fix, a preventative treatment in 2013 may well be in order for more lawns than previously expected.  I do not normally endorse the use of materials to preventatively protect against grubs, which in a normal year are rarely a huge issue unless past history indicates a problem.  However, I will be firmly endorsing both curative and preventative grub control on a case-by-case basis for 2013 because of the high risk factors recently experienced in New England.  Furthermore, another mild winter would further enhance tick populations in 2013 in addition to hundreds of other outdoor pests.  Make a note on your calendar to explore the potential health issues this winter and make plans, if deemed appropriate after speaking to professionals in the industry, such as Chippers.

On the bright side, the recent rain and cooler weather in combination with fall lawn treatments are helping damaged and weak lawns recover to the maximum degree possible before winter.  Don’t dismiss potassium, compost tea, and aeration after the harsh growing season we experienced this past year.  All of these treatments can be done well into November in most of New England so long as the ground does not freeze.

White grubs are eating your lawn without you knowing it!

In closing, don’t forget the millions of crabgrass seeds which were deposited in record numbers along driveways, patios, and walkways because of drought or insect damaged lawns.  Although a thick, healthy lawn is your best defense against crabgrass, some areas will not be up to the task without additional help of a preventative crabgrass barrier in the spring of 2013.  Timing will be key and a lot of good can be done in an eight week period next spring, so don’t file your lawn contract when it arrives this winter, review it carefully and setup a proactive plan to both protect and perhaps restore your home lawn for the investment it truly is!

 

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