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Can I top dress the lawn with compost to help my soil?

You can top dress in spring and fall with a light layer compost to help improve your soil. You can aerate the lawn before applying the help the compost work its way into the soil.   

What can I do to relieve the compaction from my dogs and kids?

High traffic areas are hard to relieve without reworking the soil. Aerate twice a year (spring and fall) may help.

What is aeration?

Aeration, or core cultivation, is standard lawn care. Aerating a lawn means supplying the soil with air, usually by poking holes in the ground throughout the lawn using an aerator. It reduces soil compaction and helps control thatch in lawns while helping water and fertilizer move into the root zone.

When can I aerate my Lawn?

A lawn can be aerated at any time the ground is not frozen, but should not be done when it is extremely hot and dry. Heavy traffic areas will require aeration more frequently.

What needs to be done before aeration?

Aeration is most effective when actual cores or plugs of soil are pulled from the lawn. Holes should be two to three inches deep and no more than two to four inches apart. Lawns should be thoroughly watered the day before aerating so plugs can be pulled more deeply and easily. Mark all sprinkler heads, shallow irrigation lines and cable TV lines before aerating so those lines will not be damaged.

Should the cores be left on the lawn?

On thatchy lawns, it is important to leave the cores on the lawn, allowing them to work back into the grass. Otherwise, the cores may be removed or left on the lawn. Lawns may be fertilized and seeded immediately after aeration. There is no need to top dress lawns following aeration.

What is thatch?

Thatch is the tangled mat of organic matter above the ground and below the crown of the plant.

What are the benefits of thatch?

It acts as a natural mulch to retain moisture, lower soil temperature, cushions crown and discourages the germination of weed seeds.

What are some problems with too much thatch?

Too much thatch can cause shallow rooting, nutrient imbalance and invasions of insects and diseases.

What are the mechanical procedures to keep thatch under control?

Aeration is removing plugs from the lawn. Power raking is removing debris, generally around or between the grass plants.

What makes up the thatch layer?

Thatch is made up of organic matter and living plants.

What causes thatch to become thicker?

Thatch develops when the organic matter accumulates faster the organisms can break it up.

What are the factors that may cause accumulation of thatch?

These factors include improper mowing, fertilization and watering to frequently with light applications.

How do you determine whether your lawn is to thatchy?

Look for dry and dead patches and areas that are very spongy. Also remove a wedge of the turf and examine.

What is a “too” thatchy lawn?

Thatch ½ inch or less is generally not a problem.

How can you prevent “too” much thatch?

Your lawn may not have a thatch problem by controlling your fertilization procedures, by watering and mowing properly.

When is the best time to power rake or de-thatch?

Although there are differences of opinion, power raking should be done prior grass greening up.

Is there a value to mowing your lawn at the lowest recommended height before power raking?

Yes. By removing grass clippings prior to power raking, it means there is less debris to pickup.

What should one do after power raking and removal of the debris?

After you have finished raking, fertilize and irrigate.

What are some values of aeration?

Aeration improves drainage and opens the thatch so water and oxygen can reach the roots. Coring aids in root growth and relieves compaction.

When is the best time to aerate?

The best times are early spring and late fall.

Should you water before doing your aeration?

Light watering before you aerate allow the tines to more easily penetrate the sod and remove the plugs.

Will aeration improve compaction?

Yes. In heavy traffic areas, the soil is compressed so that there isn’t a free movement of air, nutrients and water into the soil. Aeration helps to loosen the compacted areas.

Should one aerate one or more times?

Yes. Make one pass with the aerator, and then make a second pass at right angles to the first.

Why should one leave plugs on grass?

Leaving the plugs on top help break down thatch because they carry microorganisms that decompose organic matter.

Why shouldn’t one aerate in the summer?

Core aeration is the summer exposes roots to excessive heat and drying.