Posts Tagged ‘dethatching’

Back to school: Ideal time for aeration

All the ads for back to school supplies are great reminders that it’s the start of a new season for lawn care too. Late summer/early fall is a great time of year for many lawn care services and this especially this year, your lawn deserves some extra attention. 2015 has been and continues to be a tough year for New England lawns beginning with a dry spring and a humid summer with less than desirable rainfall. Right from the start, a late spring dealt a harsh blow to grass attempting to recover from an arctic winter.



Aerating your lawn in the fall is a great way to prepare for next spring.

Aerating your lawn in the fall is a great way to prepare for next spring.

A dry spring faded into a dry summer with some areas receiving less than ¼ of the amount of normal rainfall. Humid weather brought red thread and placed even more stress on turf already feeling the pain of summer. Crabgrass, grubs, and chinch bugs began popping up in browned-out lawns. This is exactly why back to school time should include some extra attention to your lawn.

Fall ushers in the best time to seed in NH and VT due to warm soil temperatures and the demise of annual weeds like spotted spurge and crabgrass. Unlike spring, annual weeds are dying and provide an ideal opportunity to seed damaged and thin lawn areas alike. Don’t let this opportunity pass, it will be another year before it arrives again!
Specifically, core aerate to reduce thatch and compaction from dry weather.


The aeration holes provide an ideal scenario to overseed into an existing lawn area or one that is thin. Overseeding is not designed to establish a lawn, but add to an existing lawn by providing better turf grasses for future growth. For more damaged areas or bare patches, consider topdressing with a loam/compost blend and then seed at a full rate. Topdressing is a great way to repair insect or drought damage from this season.

Fertilizing, lime, and compost tea are all great ways to work on rejuvenating your lawn this fall. If your grass simply has weeds, fall is a super time to treat for them before winter arrives. Back to school time reminds us that preparation is key, not just for children and their parents, but for your lawn as well. The more you do for your lawn now, means a better start to next spring.


Core aeration and your lawn

Published by mrgrass on August 2nd, 2012 - in Aeration or Core Aeration

Back to school time is fix up your lawn time

Summer is beginning to fade as August begins and soon school buses will be back on the roads as Labor Day approaches.  Your heat-ravaged lawn would do well to get in on the end-of-summer shopping extravaganza.  Although notebooks and new clothes are not appropriate, core aeration will break up the compacted soil caused by drought and is definitely what the teacher ordered.  And warm soils and cool nights beckon new seeding to repair damaged sections of your lawn.  This over seeding is best done after aeration so the seed can germinate in the core holes.  For those areas too large for a minor fix up, topdressing with compost is just the ticket to supply organic matter and a superior seed bed after core aeration.

Fall is the best time of the year to work on your lawn, especially when it comes to seeding because of increased rainfall, warm soil, and cool nights.  There is less competition in your lawn as summer annuals like crabgrass and spurge are on their deathbeds. And every lawn can benefit from core aeration regardless of condition or age. Simply put, fall is summer in reverse as the weather begins to feel like spring except with a splash of vivid foliage color to make a great outdoor backdrop for family activities.

Core aeration physically removes a plug to reduce soil compaction

Aeration can normally begin in August as soon as there is sufficient soil moisture to allow the hollow tines of the machine to break through the hard surface.  Dry soil often does not allow good plugs to be pulled as the soil falls apart or it is difficult to penetrate from compaction caused by dry summer weather.

A core aeration machine is a wonderful organic way to renovate a home lawn


Over seeding allows better grasses to be introduced into your lawn so it can become more resistant to disease, insects, and drought.  You may have grasses which prefer partial shade living in full sun.  Fall is a great time to add a better grass to this kind of area.  Perhaps you have an older bluegrass that is not tolerant to disease; now is the time to seed in superior hybrid turf grasses that are resistant to disease yet blend in with your bluegrass lawn.  Don’t skimp on seed quality, like fine wine, you get what you pay for and using subpar seed to save money will detract from the overall results.

The grass seed in the aeration holes needs no special care. In fact, you should continue your normal mowing routine. Topdressing will aid in the thickening of the lawn because the seed is delivered into the holes and on the lawn surface.   Any supplemental moisture for both over seeding and topdressing will promote maximum grass seed germination although it is not required for good results under normal autumn weather.  Too much moisture is often called “killing your lawn with kindness” and can be worse than not watering at all.

Drought, disease, or insect damage can thin a healthy lawn

Core aeration and over seeding are an excellent pair of lawn renovation activities which do so much good, especially after a dry year when many lawns had some drought or disease damage.

When you hear those back to school advertisements, don’t forget to help your lawn looks its best before winter arrives. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.


After a brutal summer, core aeration should be on your fall “to do list”.

2 commercial grade aerators at a job site


Core aeration or aeration is a physical process that utilizes a heavy machine called an aerator.  Similar to a garden rototiller, the aeration machine has a central shaft with 4 or 5 discs where the actual aeration tines are attached.  There are several types of aerators: some utilize solid tines while others are hollow, allowing the machine to extract plugs as it drives over your lawn.  These tines are designed to penetrate your lawn like using a cutter for cookies.  Most aeration cores will vary between ½” and 1” in diameter and will be left on the surface of your lawn.  The depth of a good core aeration job should vary between two and three inches.  Core length is dependent on soil moisture, the weight of the machine and its ability to push down versus roll over compacted soil, as well as the age or length of the tines.  Older tines become worn and must be replaced as they do not have the capacity to penetrate the soil with a blunt or worn tip.  If you are considering a rental aerator, be sure to check the tips of the tines – the more pointed they are, the better.  A blunt tine or one with a worn down tips will simply not pull a decent plug, although you may enjoy the exercise!

Aeration cores & holes

An aeration machine’s effectiveness is also dependent upon the weight of the unit and the speed at which is it used over the lawn.  The faster the aeration job, the less likely the machine’s weight can push down, forcing the tines into the soil.  In addition, most rentals are smaller, older units, enabling the average home owner to utilize the machine on a given weekend.  Although these rental units may do an adequate job in terms of maneuvering given their shorter width, a commercial grade aerator weighs hundreds of pounds more and is strapped with not only weights, but also with a drum full of water.  Basic physics dictates that using the right tool for the job, in this case a commercial aerator, will provide superior results.

 Aeration can be done any time of the year, but typically it is done in the spring or fall when soil moisture is greatest to ensure good plugs.  In addition, fall is the best time of year to over seed a lawn due to warm temperatures and more importantly, the absence of annual weeds like crabgrass that often interferes and reduces results.  Overseeding introduces superior grass varieties after an aeration job.  The seed germinates primarily in the aeration holes just like doing a hair transplant.  Overseeding is not meant to fill in damaged lawns with large patches or bare areas: this would be more in line with topdressing and seeding that could be done in conjunction with an aeration job.  Topdressing adds soil or compost in a thin layer allowing germination to take place in bare sections.  Overseeding adds new grass to an existing lawn area and small bare spots, and helps thicken up an existing lawn or thin areas.  Aeration and overseeding is not meant to establish a lawn or repair significant damage without the use of topdressing or lawn restoration.  Aeration is a great process and should be done annually to help maintain good soil health while minimizing compaction.

What are the benefits of Aeration?

–      Increased moisture penetration since the holes open up space for rain to reach the root system below.  The surface of the soil is hardened from high heat and summer drought, and a lack of rain makes the surface of the lawn much harder to loosen up due to the baking action of summer heat. 

–      Increased oxygen exchange (important for healthy roots) especially in compacted and dry soils.  Punching holes in the lawn will physically allow air to reach into the surrounding root systems, even as the hole begins to break down and fill back in with soil next spring.

–      Reduces soil compaction (especially soils high in clay) caused by those summer parties or high use.  Compacted soil does not promote healthy roots in grass or trees for that matter.

–      Increases penetration of fertilizers and other lawn products due to the holes being made.  The pellets or flakes simply roll into the plug and dissolve for faster results.

–      Increases rate of thatch decomposition due to micro-organisms being brought up to the surface in the plug itself.  There is no need to rake aeration plugs off a home lawn as they breakdown on their own in a short period of time.

–      Increases root development due to the vacant space created by the aerator tine.  The turf roots can expand outward and beyond in search of water, air, and nutrients in the soil.

If you don’t have aeration scheduled this year, give us a call and we can give you a proposal on aeration, as well as overseeding.  If topdressing is necessary, we can also give you recommendations on this procedure.  Aeration typically begins in mid to late August and runs right into October.  If you are interested or have questions on this important process, be sure to give us a call or e-mail anytime.  It will be back to school time before you know it!  Be sure to watch our aeration video posted on Flickr located on the home page of this blog.

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