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Old 08-20-2010, 11:44 AM   #1
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Should I aerate and overseed?


My lawn (I'm told) is Kentucky bluegrass planted as sod last spring. It looked great last year but with the crazy drought like conditions we've had I have green tufts of grass and between them the grass has completely died. It's not just brown or tan, it's white. Even though I watered as much as I could, with my work schedule and water restrictions I don't think it got the water it needed since the roots just aren't really there yet.

I was thinking about renting a 3 inch core aerator followed by over-seeding with Kentucky Blue.

Should it be necessary to aerate sod this soon? I think putting down just the seed would be useless since it probably won't be able to penetrate the layer of dead sod I already have.

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Old 08-20-2010, 02:06 PM   #2
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Should I aerate and overseed?


DON'T CORE AERATE in drought conditions. It just stresses the lawnfurther. Toss some seed on top, give it a quick drink EVERYDAY for a month, you'll be green again by halloween

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Old 08-20-2010, 03:40 PM   #3
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Should I aerate and overseed?


Yes, do both. You won't regret it.

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Old 08-20-2010, 07:54 PM   #4
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Should I aerate and overseed?


Also add peat moss on top of the seed so that it retains the moisture...you'll be watering enough...don't want to add to the water needs.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:19 PM   #5
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Should I aerate and overseed?


Hi Reddhead, I'm on the other side of north America to you, so maybe your conditions are vastly different.

What the golf courses do here is to aerate and rake in lots of sand. We have a local gardening guru (Brian Minter) who has a weekly radio program, and it seems that lawns get asked about more than anything else.

He always recommends that you lime your lawn as well.

Do you know what was under the sod when it went down? Perhaps there wasn't sufficient nutrients in the ground to allow the sod to get good root growth underneath.

At our own place, we have extremely limited water and we don't water the grass at all. Much of it dies off in the heat of the summer, but it always manages to come back when the rains start up again.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:22 AM   #6
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Should I aerate and overseed?


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Originally Posted by Reddhead View Post
My lawn (I'm told) is Kentucky bluegrass planted as sod last spring. It looked great last year but with the crazy drought like conditions we've had I have green tufts of grass and between them the grass has completely died. It's not just brown or tan, it's white. Even though I watered as much as I could, with my work schedule and water restrictions I don't think it got the water it needed since the roots just aren't really there yet.

I was thinking about renting a 3 inch core aerator followed by over-seeding with Kentucky Blue.

Should it be necessary to aerate sod this soon? I think putting down just the seed would be useless since it probably won't be able to penetrate the layer of dead sod I already have.
I wouldn't do anything until it starts getting cooler...like mid/late September....aerate and overseed.

Come spring, definitely put down pre-emergent weed killer, because I'm sure a lot of weed seeds got into those dead grass patches.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:45 AM   #7
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Should I aerate and overseed?


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Hi Reddhead, I'm on the other side of north America to you, so maybe your conditions are vastly different.

What the golf courses do here is to aerate and rake in lots of sand. We have a local gardening guru (Brian Minter) who has a weekly radio program, and it seems that lawns get asked about more than anything else.

He always recommends that you lime your lawn as well.

Do you know what was under the sod when it went down? Perhaps there wasn't sufficient nutrients in the ground to allow the sod to get good root growth underneath.

At our own place, we have extremely limited water and we don't water the grass at all. Much of it dies off in the heat of the summer, but it always manages to come back when the rains start up again.
Our Summers here are HOT and stupid humid. This year has been particularly dry (humid but no rain) compared to years past. This Summer they've been threatening to declare a drought emergency and then we get a sprinkle of rain. I have about 6" of topsoil with orange clay underneath. I think some areas it got packed down a bit too much and that's where the grass is having the most trouble penetrating its roots.

I get plenty of weeds and everyday I find myself obsessively pulling them out by hand. My neighbors have pretty much given up on their lawns and let the crab grass take over along with other a sundry of other weeds. This just makes my life harder as they start spreading into my yard.

I'm def going to hold off aerating and seeding until Sept as suggested. Still seeing a lot of dry weather here.
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:04 AM   #8
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Should I aerate and overseed?


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Our Summers here are HOT and stupid humid. This year has been particularly dry (humid but no rain) compared to years past. This Summer they've been threatening to declare a drought emergency and then we get a sprinkle of rain. I have about 6" of topsoil with orange clay underneath. I think some areas it got packed down a bit too much and that's where the grass is having the most trouble penetrating its roots.

I get plenty of weeds and everyday I find myself obsessively pulling them out by hand. My neighbors have pretty much given up on their lawns and let the crab grass take over along with other a sundry of other weeds. This just makes my life harder as they start spreading into my yard.

I'm def going to hold off aerating and seeding until Sept as suggested. Still seeing a lot of dry weather here.
Wow! That sounds like what we have had this summer, although I don't think we quite get the extreme heat or humidity. The weather site I use has been posting about your heat waves all summer long.

Definitely good advice you received about waiting until the weather cools before doing anything.

And I would think that with 6" of topsoil under the grass that you ought to be OK. The one thing you could do would be to lime the grass, preferably right before you have rain in the forecast.

Good luck! It sounds like you have your hands full.
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:28 PM   #9
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Should I aerate and overseed?


I'm not following this "don't aerate during a drought" philosophy. I will admit that the process is logistically better after irrigation/rain but simply because the soil is softer therefore you can get better penetration and accomplish a better job. But the whole point of aeration is to get oxygen and moisture to the roots and if the ground is hard and dry on the surface then it stands to reason that the roots will not benefit if water/oxygen cannot get there.

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Old 08-21-2010, 08:01 PM   #10
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Should I aerate and overseed?


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I'm not following this "don't aerate during a drought" philosophy.
Just about everything I've ever read/seen/heard all say it's not good to aerate during summer heat and especially during drought conditions. You are the first person I've ever heard say anything to the contrary

EDIT: just did a quick google on "aerating during summer drought". Just reading the blurbs on the google result page, looks like like every article on the first page agrees with not aerating during drought. I read over one article, here's apiece of it

Dr. Peter Landschoot, turf soils specialist at Penn State University, acknowledges that not everyone has the option of aerating at the time that's most ideal for the turf. “Not everyone has that luxury. You do it when you can. But this flexibility has limits. Aerating in the extreme drought and heat of summer can do more harm than good.”
http://www.grounds-mag.com/mag/groun...ing_plug_turf/
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Last edited by Mr Chips; 08-21-2010 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:54 PM   #11
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Should I aerate and overseed?


Aerating during a drought is just going to kick up a lot of dirt and the holes you core out will just fill back up. When it's hot outside, the grass goes dormant and should not get any stimulation it doesn't need, unless you plan to consistently maintain it...but then again, if you were doing that to begin with, you wouldn't be concerned about trying to revive it.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:22 AM   #12
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Should I aerate and overseed?


This thread seems like a good learning opportunity.

My perspectives are:

1. Ideally, I would irrigate (or rain) first to soften the soil, then aerate, then apply nutrients if needed, then irrigate again.

2. In Mr. Chips' first reply he says to overseed and water. I have to wonder how new grass is going to grow any better than the existing lawn would, especially if it was watered the same. And I honestly believe that if only one good watering was available, I would aerate first or not at all. Also, if the soil needs aerating, then new seedlings would have a difficult time establishing a good root system just as the original sod did. But I absolutely would not aerate only during a dry season and not follow up with irrigation. IMO

3. I would never "Carte Blanche" recommend adding lime without any other information.

4. Personally, I would wait about another six weeks and be glad to not have to mow as much right now- unless appearance is critical.

As far as whether or not the lawn should need aerating this soon, that depends entirely on how well it was prepped in the first place and how much traffic has been on it since.

FWIW-
My training was several years ago through the University of Georgia.
And I have to agree generally with HM88, "but then again, if you were doing that to begin with, you wouldn't be concerned about trying to revive it."
A good maintenance schedule would include regular aeration which will help the lawn take advantage of what rain does come.
Two weeks ago I used a spading fork to "aerate" several flower beds which indeed disrupted the soil, roots, etc to some degree. But I did this immediately before applying several hundred gallons of water. When I got through, I checked the soil moisture (with a meter) and it was very wet to about 8-10 inches. Had I not aerated first, the water would have simply run off or I would have had to spend at least an hour instead of ten minutes to get the water to soak in. But a good slow soaking would have worked just fine if I had irrigation in those beds and could set it for what I needed instead of hoping for hit or miss rain.

Excellent posts here, and I will try to follow up through UGA on the drought aeration and either edit or post a follow up.
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:38 PM   #13
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Should I aerate and overseed?


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2. In Mr. Chips' first reply he says to overseed and water. I have to wonder how new grass is going to grow any better than the existing lawn would, especially if it was watered the same. .
Easy. The OP clearly stated that he didn't water due to watering restrictions. Now his lawn is dead and being almost Sept I have to assume that water restrictions have been lifted ( or will be soon). This is why i recommend overseeding and giving a quick watering EVERYDAY. If it was watered the same, i would still expect it to do better simply because the cooler weather will allow it to get established this fall and next spring. Nothing mysterious about that
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Old 08-23-2010, 05:55 PM   #14
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Should I aerate and overseed?


So I'm not following how aerating a dead lawn before reseeding is going to hurt it.
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Old 08-23-2010, 06:31 PM   #15
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So I'm not following how aerating a dead lawn before reseeding is going to hurt it.
It doesn't hurt it, but one could be wasting their effort because new grass is very delicate, and it'll take one hot spell, even with watering, to burn that grass up.

Patience. There's no reason not to wait until late September.

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