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Old 08-03-2011, 06:10 AM   #1
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Core aeration


I'm looking at aerating my lawn, as I now have one that's in reasonable condition and I want to keep it that way.

I was going to start doing it by using a fork but then read that core aeration's far better, as using a fork actually compacts the soil. I then looked into this and saw sites saying that you should leave the cores on the surface as when they breakdown that helps the lawn. Then I also read that you should put sand on afterwards.

So, I've got a few questions that I hoped more knowledgeable people could answer.

1) For a normal, garden lawn that's just intended to be a lawn that looks ok is there really and need to use a core aerator rather than just using a fork?

2) If I did buy a core aerator, should I leave the plugs it extracts on the surface like I've heard you should? I'd have thought that on a garden lawn I'd end up with a muddy mess if I did that!

3) Is it necessary to apply sand afterwards? I don't doubt it's better to do it, but is it essential?

Thanks is advance!
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:24 AM   #2
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When you say "garden soil" do you mean you can stick your fingers in and remove a handful of dirt? If so I'd think that there is no reason to areate at all.

I am by no means an expert, but my feeling is core areation is "true areation" as it removes the soil instead of just pushing it to the side. I've always just left the cores where they fall, as i'd think you'd want them to evently break down and refill the holes.

The only time I've ever heard of adding sand is if you have a high clay content and the sand is used to break up the clay, but even this is highly debated because unless you use sharp sand it really doesn't penetrate the clay, but simply leaves you with a hard layer on top ( hard compared to the topsoil that's already there).

This is my understanding based on what I've done and read, I'm sure the experts here will set us both straight
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Last edited by Mr Chips; 08-03-2011 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:05 AM   #3
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I live in West Tennessee I used one of the core "plug type aerators" last year, I did leave the plugs on the ground and mowed over them. As for adding the sand, my experience in this area spreading sand on Bermuda will help make it grow and spread. I too am not a professional, just a observant homeowner. I didn't notice any improvement after aerating my lawn. But I will advise to rent a gas powered one and not buying one, even renting one was a real workout going over the yard.
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Old 08-03-2011, 03:00 PM   #4
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I was on a "greens committee" at a country club.

We always aerated twice a year (many areas) and only once a year of others. Because of the unique requirement to maintain a great turf all summer, the aerationg was usually done late in the day (grouped adjacent holes) on a rotating basis. Everything a core aeration.

In some areas with harder soils at depth sand was always spread to fill the voids and insure water penetration. Other areas with softer soild were not filled. After any filling was done the entire areas were "lightly scarified by a wire to break up the cores. Then the spricklers were turned on to wash the loose materials into the cores and provide an acceptable playing surface for the next day that even improved during that day. Not exactly what you would do for a lawn at a home, but working in the dark was a common practice. The college kids working did a great job and for some it was a second summer job.

Bottom line is that it all depends on your type of soil and time requirements. In some areas with fungus, evening watering may not be the best. I hope this gives some additional perspective for your situation.


Last edited by concretemasonry; 08-03-2011 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:06 PM   #5
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I don't think you are going to buy a core aerator. They are normally big and expensive. Maybe rent one for the day. Or have the kid come over and do it for $30.
I agree with Mr Chips on the spike aeration - just pushes soil to the side. I have had my lawn aerated many times ( I should do it more often - lots of clay, drains poorly). Just leave the cores on the lawn, in a couple of weeks they will disintegrate and be gone.
I have read about adding sand to reduce clay, but I don't think I have ever read it as part of a normal aeration program. If you have not found good reason to conclude that you need sand, I would not do it.
I am not sure where you are located, but August is probably not the best time to aerate. The lawn is likely to be under a lot of stress from the heat and low water. Spring and fall are the times to aerate.

Last edited by SPS-1; 08-03-2011 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:53 PM   #6
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Thanks for the help guys, I am planning to start on my garden this week, will get back to you on what happens.
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:58 PM   #7
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Hi Allena,

Here is what you should do,

- For a normal Garden an aerator will be a better choice, though I will recommend that rather than buying you goto a tool rental and rent an aerator.

- Yes, you should leave the plugs there they are good for nitrogen.

- No, it is not necessary to apply sand afterwords

Last edited by waqas5742; 08-06-2011 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:22 PM   #8
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If you aerate now, you will likely have crabgrass in a week or so, assuming you're in an area prone to crabgrass. In my area, it's best to aerate in the Fall, when the weather is cooler and also a good time to overseed with cool season grasses.

If you have a crabgrass barrier down, aerating will render it useless.
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