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Old 04-27-2010, 11:00 AM   #1
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


I believe my yard is in need of core aeration. We have lived here for almost a year and haven't done it. The previous owners do not seem like the type of people who would pay to have it done if the rest of the upkeep they did around the house is any indication of what they paid their landscaper to do. We have spots in our lawn that do not grow as well as the rest. I have read about plugs Vs spikes or slits to aerate. It seems that plug aeration is the better type to do. I am new to this so if anyone with expereience would chime in I would greatly appreciate it.

I checked at HD and I can rent a core aerator machine for $56 for 4 hours. 4 hours should be enough time given I live 5 minutes from the store and my yard is not insanely big but big enough that I think renting the machine would make sense (about 15k sq ft of yard).

I know I can get gas spike/slit units for a couple hundred but I am not sure if the spike/slit aerating is a good option compared to the plug type.

I also read about dethatching which I may also need to do. HD rents the power rakes for $40 for 4 hours -- is this a good option?

Thanks in advance for the info
J

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Old 04-27-2010, 07:15 PM   #2
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


The only aeration I do is with a core plugger- other than a commercial aeravator, but that's out of place here. The purpose of aerating is to loosen the soil so that water can penetrate and to open it up for oxygen to get in. Renting the one you mentioned would be a good idea for you. When you use it, go across back and forth on one plane, then do the same again at right angles. Then do it again if you have time or are not tired. You almost cannot physically do it too much. You will give out first. It is also best to do this a day or two after a good rain. You need the soil to be moist enough to be soft for the tines to get good penetration but not so wet as to be muddy.

Dethatching is a completely different process. Many people do it when they don't need to and a lot of folks don't know what it really it. It is not the same as aerating.

Somewhat the same is using a verticutter, or slitter. That process is not generally done by the average DIY homeowner.

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Old 04-27-2010, 07:16 PM   #3
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


Quote:
Originally Posted by whataboutj View Post
I believe my yard is in need of core aeration. We have lived here for almost a year and haven't done it. The previous owners do not seem like the type of people who would pay to have it done if the rest of the upkeep they did around the house is any indication of what they paid their landscaper to do. We have spots in our lawn that do not grow as well as the rest. I have read about plugs Vs spikes or slits to aerate. It seems that plug aeration is the better type to do. I am new to this so if anyone with expereience would chime in I would greatly appreciate it.

I checked at HD and I can rent a core aerator machine for $56 for 4 hours. 4 hours should be enough time given I live 5 minutes from the store and my yard is not insanely big but big enough that I think renting the machine would make sense (about 15k sq ft of yard).

I know I can get gas spike/slit units for a couple hundred but I am not sure if the spike/slit aerating is a good option compared to the plug type.

I also read about dethatching which I may also need to do. HD rents the power rakes for $40 for 4 hours -- is this a good option?

Thanks in advance for the info
J
I would dethatch before core aerating.

After core aerating, consider putting down some lime.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:27 PM   #4
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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Originally Posted by handy man88 View Post
I would dethatch before core aerating.

After core aerating, consider putting down some lime.
Detatching first makes sense. What does the lime do? I will look that up. I think remember them putting down lime after core aerating on one of the shows on DIY network but can't remember what they said the purpose was.

I mowed the lawn for the first time this season (new mower too - Honda HRX). It took twice as long as I thought it would due to how tall the grass was
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Old 04-28-2010, 12:51 AM   #5
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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Originally Posted by whataboutj View Post
Detatching first makes sense. What does the lime do? I will look that up. I think remember them putting down lime after core aerating on one of the shows on DIY network but can't remember what they said the purpose was.

I mowed the lawn for the first time this season (new mower too - Honda HRX). It took twice as long as I thought it would due to how tall the grass was
Lime lowers the acidity in the soil which promotes a healthier lawn.

Mowing on tall grass may not be so good because it can scalp the grass. Start with a high setting and then lower the height on the mower.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:52 AM   #6
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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Originally Posted by downunder View Post
The only aeration I do is with a core plugger- other than a commercial aeravator, but that's out of place here. The purpose of aerating is to loosen the soil so that water can penetrate and to open it up for oxygen to get in. Renting the one you mentioned would be a good idea for you. When you use it, go across back and forth on one plane, then do the same again at right angles. Then do it again if you have time or are not tired. You almost cannot physically do it too much. You will give out first. It is also best to do this a day or two after a good rain. You need the soil to be moist enough to be soft for the tines to get good penetration but not so wet as to be muddy.

Dethatching is a completely different process. Many people do it when they don't need to and a lot of folks don't know what it really it. It is not the same as aerating.

Somewhat the same is using a verticutter, or slitter. That process is not generally done by the average DIY homeowner.
Thanks for the details on how to aerate. I will definitely do that. My yard is not soo big that it will be overwhelming (I think). As for the wet soil - the house has an in ground sprinkler system so I can get the soil wet whenever I need too

Quote:
Originally Posted by handy man88 View Post
Lime lowers the acidity in the soil which promotes a healthier lawn.

Mowing on tall grass may not be so good because it can scalp the grass. Start with a high setting and then lower the height on the mower.
I did raise the height of the mower for the first cut last night. It was set at 2.5" - I first raised it to 3.5" but that wasn't doing much so I lowered it to 3" which worked. I will bring it down to 2.5" for the next one. Does anyone go down to 2"? That seems like it may be too short
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:48 PM   #7
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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Originally Posted by whataboutj View Post
I did raise the height of the mower for the first cut last night. It was set at 2.5" - I first raised it to 3.5" but that wasn't doing much so I lowered it to 3" which worked. I will bring it down to 2.5" for the next one. Does anyone go down to 2"? That seems like it may be too short
Cutting too short exposes the roots to sun and burning.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:35 PM   #8
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


Quote:
the house has an in ground sprinkler system so I can get the soil wet whenever I need too
Be SURE to mark those heads before you start!

Quote:
I would dethatch before core aerating.
Why?

Quote:
Lime lowers the acidity in the soil which promotes a healthier lawn.
What should the pH be for this lawn?
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Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 04-29-2010 at 08:54 PM. Reason: removed comments
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:39 PM   #9
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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Originally Posted by downunder View Post
What should the pH be for this lawn?
The less acidic, the better

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 04-29-2010 at 08:54 PM. Reason: removed comments
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Old 04-29-2010, 05:50 PM   #10
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


whataboutj
I may have missed this earlier, but what lawn do you have?
Also, always post your location on gardening questions please.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:34 PM   #11
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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whataboutj
I may have missed this earlier, but what lawn do you have?
Also, always post your location on gardening questions please.
I am located in IL about 30 minutes north of Chicago and 15 minutes west of the lake. As for the type of lawn that is a good question. I think it is a blue grass/rye/fescue mix or something like that. I tried to figure it out using the Scotts turf builder web site - the pics for the 3 grass mix, tall fescue, and bent grass all looked like they could be my type of lawn. According to the site the 3 type mix is most common. I can post some pics of my lawn in a little bit.
Thanks
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:34 PM   #12
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


whataboutj,

Going back to the original post- Why do you think you need to do this? All rhetoric aside, whether you actually need to do this or not is a question you need to answer. Most authoritative sources would suggest that less than 1/2 inch of thatch is no problem and not all lawns actually have a thatch problem. This is not a universal necessity. Part of my work involves bermuda sports fields. We never dethatch but we aerate at least once a year primarily because of the compaction issue.

Thatch is an accumulation of dead grass clipping and to some degree, roots. One of the main concerns is that the lawn roots will grow in the thatch instead of into the soil.

To check if you have a thatch problem, cut a plug out a couple of inches (2-4) deep. Or, what I do is take a sharp shovel, cut a three sided square, and lift it up. You can see a good cross section of thatch as well as check for bugs. Simply raise it up by the hinge of the fourth side, then replace and keep watered for a couple of days.

Your pH should be around 6.5, give or take.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:18 PM   #13
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


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Originally Posted by downunder View Post
whataboutj,

Going back to the original post- Why do you think you need to do this? All rhetoric aside, whether you actually need to do this or not is a question you need to answer. Most authoritative sources would suggest that less than 1/2 inch of thatch is no problem and not all lawns actually have a thatch problem. This is not a universal necessity. Part of my work involves bermuda sports fields. We never dethatch but we aerate at least once a year primarily because of the compaction issue.

Thatch is an accumulation of dead grass clipping and to some degree, roots. One of the main concerns is that the lawn roots will grow in the thatch instead of into the soil.

To check if you have a thatch problem, cut a plug out a couple of inches (2-4) deep. Or, what I do is take a sharp shovel, cut a three sided square, and lift it up. You can see a good cross section of thatch as well as check for bugs. Simply raise it up by the hinge of the fourth side, then replace and keep watered for a couple of days.

Your pH should be around 6.5, give or take.
An excess buildup of thatch also prevents a lot of water from getting to the roots, especially if there's a pitch in the grade.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:29 PM   #14
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


I'm probably about due west another 50 miles from you (whataboutj) and lots

of clay soils around here.

I've been aerating twice a year.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:51 PM   #15
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Core aeration - plugs/tine or spikes/slits & dethatching


"especially if there's a pitch in the grade. "

And I thought it was because of gravity.

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