PHOTO — This is Kenny on our Kubota tractor using a deep tine aerator. Aeration is usually done on Bermuda turf athletic fields in the summer time. Here, Kenny is pulling 8 inch cores on Doak Field at NC State’s Dial Park. It would be nice if we could pull cores this deep on residential properties, but that is not possible. Deep cores mean a good root system. Residential properties in the Triangle area are clay based soils, and it is not physically possible for us to aerate to that depth. Doak Field’s soil profile is composed of silt, sand, loam and clay. The tine plunges into the earth and a long plug of soil is pulled out and deposited on the surface of the field. These plugs can be swept off or dragged back into the soil. If they are swept off we usually go back over with a top dresser and apply a layer of sand. This process creates a great playing surface.
There is no magic formula to maintaining an attractive lawn year round. It can be difficult, but with some basic knowledge and a little work, it’s very achievable. Two key tasks that should be added to your routine are seeding and aerating.
Importance of Overseeding
You may wonder why you should seed your lawn when it appears to be covered with grass, but “re-seeding” or “overseeding” is a very common technique that keeps your lawn healthy. Adding more seed over the lawn, fills in weak areas caused by weeds, heat stress, pests and disease. It is important to overseed with a blend of seed. That is a mixture of different fescue seeds, some that are more drought tolerant, others more resistant to disease or heat stress. Also pay attention to the seed label, it should 0.000% weed free, 0.000% other crop and have NO noxious weeds.
Importance of Aeration
Aeration is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lawn, and because of timing, these two tasks are often done together. Aeration is simply the process of exposing the soil under the lawn to the nutrients, water and air so it isn’t choked off from compacted or thatched top layer of soil. If you have a lawn that is frequently used for entertaining guests or kids’ play, you will likely need to aerate yearly because the soil will have been compacted from the traffic. The process is accomplished with a core aerator, it removes plugs of soil and thatch. This material is left in place to decompose and disintegrate back into the soil.
When Should You Seed and Aerate?
Aeration and seeding are done in the fall. Fescue is a fall crop and should not be planted in the spring. We aerate and seed lawns starting in the last week of August and finish the first week of November. Fescue germinates and grows in the fall, but it will become mature until the spring when it will tiller-out and fill in. This fall plating allows for good root development which will help the plant survive our hot summers.
If you live anywhere in the Raleigh Durham area or eastern North Carolina and need assistance with seeding and aeration, please contact Eastern Turf Maintenance at (919) 571-9990.