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Old 05-01-2013, 11:29 AM   #1
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Newer sod, aerate or power rake


Hey guys and gals,

This will be my 3rd year with sod and I was wondering if I should aerate or power rake (or do nothing). The last 2 years my lawn has looked awesome. I am hesitant to rent a power rake due to the fact that they are somewhat violent to your turf. I was thinking maybe I should just aerate this year? I also was looking at those electric powered rakes (with just the spring tines), they seem to be a little less violent. Should I just wait and see how my lawn looks or be pro-active and aerate? Thanks for any information!

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Old 05-01-2013, 11:47 AM   #2
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Newer sod, aerate or power rake


First, where are you? You might want to post your general geographic location.

What kind of turf do you have? If it is two to three years old I sincerely hope it does not look like sod anymore or something went horribly wrong. You said it looked great so I am guessing all is well and you have it on a good feeding and pesticide/heribicide regimen.

Processes like power raking and de-thatching are needed on a more regular basis for species like bermuda than say a mix of perennial rye, fescue and bluegrass. If you had lots of thin places you wanted to overseed it would be called for as well. Is there a serious layer of thatch along the surface of the soil when you dig a section with a rake or your fingers? If not, I doubt you will gain much with the procedure. Thatch can encourage insect and fungus growth and of course steal water from the soil.

Aerating is a different matter and is a good idea once per season. It is used to introduce air space that the roots of your turf can take advantage of and to allow water to penetrate more deeply. Water will chase the new depth and roots will follow the water to, in theory, develop stronger and more tolerant root systems.

If you have clay soil, think about raking the aerator plugs and introducing some organic matter to help break up soil compaction. Otherwise feed after aeration and let the plugs melt back into the turf.

I guess you can still rent core aerators but most places have companies leaving flyers on the door this time of year that will do it cheaper than you can.


Last edited by user1007; 05-01-2013 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:04 PM   #3
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Newer sod, aerate or power rake


Sdsester,

I live in ND and our winter is finally letting up (still 20's in the morning). My yard is very thick and is thriving throughout the summer so I want to keep it that way. It is Kentucky Bluegrass. We did add 4 inches of black dirt to the clay before laying it. I have a lawn company out 4 times a year to fertilize and supplement organic fertilizer a few times in the year (milorganite). Shlould I aerate and lay down some milorangite after everything dries up a little? Thanks for the tips.
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Old 05-01-2013, 02:34 PM   #4
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Newer sod, aerate or power rake


I'd like to throw another suggestion/question to you and all the other forum members. When aerating, is there ever a time to add sand to your lawn? For instance, you have a base layer of clay, sand will help break that clay up and allow drainage. Can sand be added before aerating?
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Old 05-01-2013, 03:14 PM   #5
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Newer sod, aerate or power rake


North Dakota questions first. You want to wait to aerate until all chance of a ground freeze are over. I should think you would soon be alright and the grass will be climbing out of dormancy. There is no reason to feed it if it is going to be asleep before the nutrients leach past the roots. It should soon welcome a good spring feed though.

The other thing that happens in Northern climates is soil heaving from the uneven freezing and thawing of the soil. This creates mounds and depressions that make it hard to walk around and mow. You can even out with a landscape roller before aerating if needed. Don't fill the roller more than you have to and start half full.

As for adding sand. You will get mixed opinions and it depends somewhat on the coarseness of the sand you choose. I use to fold very coarse sand into Northern California soils before planting turf. And of course, you always want river washed or otherwise clean sand and nothing with salt in it. The problem with fine sand is that it can compact worse than the clay you are trying to fix.

In any event, you would be better raking the plugs and adding something organic like a wood or mushroom mulch or even something like perlite (in spite of its unearned scary reputation). It will be cheaper to buy it from a landscape yard in bulk than by the bag.

Just remember organics draw nitrogen from the soil you were planning for the lawn for their natural decomposition so you may have to beef up the nitrogen amount in your fertilizer application just a bit if you add them.

Clay soils are not altogether and totally bad, by the way. They hold moisture well. It is when they get too wet, too fast that the "dirt" swells and binds together eliminating air space for roots and preventing proper drainage and natural leaching of water and nutrients down past the roots. Nailing the amount to water it is key. You want to aim for watering long, deep and infrequently striving also not to ever let it dry out or to get too wet. Aim for evenly moist so that you can turn it over easily in the flower beds.
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Old 05-01-2013, 03:15 PM   #6
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Newer sod, aerate or power rake


Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck2013 View Post
I'd like to throw another suggestion/question to you and all the other forum members. When aerating, is there ever a time to add sand to your lawn? For instance, you have a base layer of clay, sand will help break that clay up and allow drainage. Can sand be added before aerating?

Probably after aerating,and not just any kind of sand,needs to be a coarse variety,ask for number 2 torpedo sand it's whats used in ready mixed concrete if that will help.

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