Aeration-The Most Beneficial, Least Expensive Thing Your Lawn Needs

You have probably heard that aeration is good for your lawn, maybe you’ve seen it done, or maybe you have seen the process done at a golf course, you may have even aerated your own lawn. But did you know that for what it costs to do it, or even to buy an AERATOR to do it with, that it’s the most beneficial and least expensive thing that you can do for your lawn?

First, what is aeration? It’s the process of taking small plugs of soil out of your lawn and depositing them on top of the lawn. Why does this help? Depending on if you have a normal home lawn, a commercial lawn that maybe gets a little more traffic, a school lawn, baseball field, football field, soccer field, or even a golf course, the problems that aerating fixes, will be more severe with more foot traffic, and even some vehicle traffic.

Aerating is similar to taking a house plant that has become root bound and repotting it. The same principles apply. Taking the house plant out of its confined pot and giving it more room to grow is what happens to turfgrass roots when you aerate. The holes that are poked in the ground give the roots more room to grow.

Thatch is a combination of decaying grass clippings, miscellaneous lawn debris, stolons and roots that build up at the crown of the grass plant. Over time this thatch acts like a barrier and keeps water, air, fertilizer and lime from getting into the root zone of the grass to do its magic.

Thatch in grass

Thatch layer in turfgrass

By aerating (making thousands of holes) the lawn, you will help to reduce this thatch layer and allow fertilizer, lime, water and air to get into the soil and the root zone of the turfgrass. The plugs that are left on top of the ground (when using a core aerator) will decompose over time and through microbial activity help to keep the thatch in check.

The picture at left shows the soil with some roots growing in it, the thick thatch layer, the crown of the grass and the grass blades.

As you might imagine from looking at this picture, this thatch layer can get so compacted that it is similar to having a sheet of plastic laying on your lawn. When it does rain or when you water, the water would run off instead of soaking deep down into the lawn. The compacted root zone also restricts the growth of the grass plant leaving your entire lawn looking lethargic, weak and yellowish.

Core Aeration

Core aeration is the best type, this is when the machine actually makes a plug (core) and pulls it out of the ground and deposits it on top of the ground. We prefer the core aerators over the spike aerators for this reason. The spike aerator still will poke holes in the ground and allow space, but they actually do a little compacting of the soil at the same time.

What happens is the spike goes into the ground and makes a hole, but since it doesn’t pull a plug of soil out of the ground, it just pushes the soil to the sides and makes the hole. This compacts that portion of soil while making the hole. This is a small disadvantage, so if you are short on available cash to buy an aerator, the spike aerator is better than nothing, and this one is less than $100.00.

A good core aerator can be bought for anywhere from $141.00 for this lesser expensive Precision Brand plugger to over $390.00 for this better built, better quality Agri-Fab Brand 40″ plugger This is another case of “you get what you pay for”. But, from experience, we have learned that the plugger type aerator does a better job, and if the extra bucks that it’s going to cost doesn’t kill you, then get the plugger.

There is one advantage to this particular spike-aerator. That is that you can seed and aerate at the same time with this one piece of equipment.

You will first need to run over the lawn a couple of times with this aerator being sure that you cover all spots of the lawn without leaving any blank spots in the lawn where you skipped. Then fill the seed hopper, and being even more careful, cover the entire lawn until you have applied the required amount of seed. How much seed you will need to put down will depend on the type of seed, and whether you are trying to just fill in a little bit, or if your lawn was nearly all gone and you’re trying to re-establish it. Look at our seeding page for more information about how much seed to use and how much fertilizer is needed, and what type of fertilizer.

You can also buy an aerator that you just simply push like a push mower. This would obviously be a lot of work for anything more than the smallest of lawns, so it’s not going to be a popular type of aerator.

If you want to get a little exercise or you don’t have a riding lawn mower to pull a tow behind type aerator, you can even buy a set of aerator shoes that will put holes in the lawn with every step you take.

 

So, you can kill two birds with one stone, or (let’s not kill any birds) get two jobs done at once, simply by wearing these.

If you are a serious lawn care fanatic and you have a small tractor that you use for various lawn and landscaping chores around the property, you can get a three point hitch type commercial grade aerator that you can use your tractor to aerate with. This is the type that we use in our Landscape Company. They will do the best job of any that we have shown you so far. However, the disadvantage is the cost.

This unit will run you over $2,100.00 plus shipping to boot. That’s a lot of money to spend for a piece of equipment that you may not use more than a half dozen times a year. But, let’s say that you and your brother, good friend, cousin, etc. go in together to buy one. Then the cost is cut in half and it’s not like the unit is going to be used by one or the other of you each time the other wants to use it. It should be available for either of you when you need it. Of course, one of you will need to own a tractor.

If you are a volunteer at your kids Little League or school, you might find this is just the tool you need to help them keep the fields in good shape.

Renting Equipment to Aerate

Still another option is to rent an aerator. You can rent a tow behind aerator for $50.00 to $75.00 from most rental stores. But, just do a little math and you can see that it wouldn’t take too many rentals and you could have bought one of your own. Plus not having the aggravation of having to drive to the rental store, load it, haul it back, etc.

Many rental stores will also have a walk-behind gas powered aerator. These are plug type aerators and do an excellent job. However, they will work you hard. If you’re not in good physical shape, we don’t suggest attempting one of these. You can buy one like this, Husqvarna 25.5″  for around $3,300.00

There are many options for equipment to aerate, here is another. A three point hitch type aerator for your tractor, in a spike type. Basically, it’s a large drum with spikes welded to it that you can use with your tractor.

Again, your tractor must have a three point hitch and be large enough to lift this unit weighing almost 400#. With this aerator and the 3-pt. hitch plugging aerator listed above, you can’t use just a small lawn and garden mower “tractor”, you will have to have at minimum a small Kubota/John Deere/Kioti tractor that would accept a front end loader, tillers, and other small equipment. You won’t be using what Sears calls a “Lawn Tractor”. Those are just lawn mowers.

And finally, one more option is a hand held plugging aerator. It’s simply a tool with two hollow spears on the end of it. Operating it is plain and simple, raise it up, push it down. Repeat this a few hundred times and you’ll be done. Again, for the person that doesn’t mind some vigorous exercise, or for those that have the smallest of postage stamp size lawns, this might be for you. This one sells for only $24.00 and you can even get replacement tines for it when you wear out what comes on it.

The bottom line of aerating is that it doesn’t matter what type of aerator you use, they will get the job done. The only difference is which type you use, how much money you want to spend and how much work you are willing to do. Aerating is the least expensive thing you can do to your lawn and will give you more benefits than some other lawn maintenance services you could have done.

Benefits of aeration

The benefits of aeration

And of course, if you’re all fired up to get your lawn aerated and you don’t want to buy or rent the equipment, don’t have the time or energy to do it anyway and would rather just have a nice lawn without the sweat, then call your local Lawn and Landscape Company to get it done. It will cost you anywhere from $45.00 to as much as a few hundred depending on the size of your lawn and the market you live in.

The timing for aeration will depend on a couple things. Usually when the soil is soft enough for the tines to go into the ground is the most important, for the equipment to work right. If you have an irrigation system, then this is not an issue. You can simply water enough to make the ground soft, and go to work.

If someone asked I can do this once a year, when should I do it? I would say Fall. The next best time would be Spring. But, remember, golf courses, pro football and baseball fields, soccer fields and other turfgrass areas that get a lot of foot traffic or vehicle traffic will aerate several times a year. It’s one of those things that won’t hurt anything to do it even monthly.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us and we will try to answer for you. If you have found this post helpful, please share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. We wish you greener grass and lush lawns!

Related Posts at LawnMasters

Aeration and Overseeding

 Aerating/Seeding

Winterize Your Irrigation System to Prevent Damage

Winter is going to be here before you know it, now is the time to plan for winterizing your sprinkler system (irrigation system). Most irrigation systems will retain a small amount of water in the lateral lines, even if you have automatic drain back valves installed. And the valve boxes are all

irrigation system automatic drain back valve

An automatic drain back valve in an irrigation system. It helps to eliminate water from standing in the system

susceptible to freezing because they are exposed to the elements except for a thin plastic lid. If a valve freezes and breaks, it is usually an expensive repair.

 

Winterizing your system is usually going to require having the installer, or a qualified Landscape Professional, that has knowledge about the operation of an irrigation system, pumps that pump out of the lake for water source, and all of the different timers, valves and related systems that make up an irrigation system, to do it for you. A properly installed irrigation system is quite complex and needs the expertise of someone that has done it for years to service it for you.

LawnMasters has been installing and maintaining irrigation systems for 26 years. One of the first systems we installed was on Kentucky Lake for a nice lady who had recently lost her husband. He had started building an irrigation system, but passed away before he could complete it.

We completed the system for her in 1990, and it is still being used today.

Winterizing an irrigation system involves hooking an air compressor up to the system, utilizing a couple of different options, then charging the system with air pressure to blow the water out of the system.

Winterizing an irrigation system

An irrigation head blowing out any water in the line during winterization

Two problems can surface during this action, one is the system can be damaged if too much air pressure is applied to it. Or second, the system can still be damaged by freezing water if all of the water is not purged from the system. Again, knowledge is king when servicing a system that costs thousands to install.

Once we have the system winterized, we turn it off and put it to bed for the season, ready to be started when needed in Spring, protecting your valuable irrigation system and your investment.

When Spring comes, the system should be ready to just turn on the water, adjust your automatic timer and let it take off again.

When should you have your irrigation system winterized? It depends on what part of the US you are in, when your expected first freeze will be, and if you are doing Fall seeding.

Obviously, the farther North you are, the sooner you will have to winterize your system, an easy rule is to have it done prior to the expected date of your first freeze. If you are done using your system for the year, go ahead and schedule to have it done, or do it yourself if you are able. There is no benefit in waiting, and, if you wait until the last minute before the first expected freeze, you may not be able to get on the schedule to get it done in time.

New Sod, Irrigating

New Sod Being Watered

If you are doing some Fall overseeding, aeration and seeding or have installed sod, you may need to wait until the last minute. Still, if you are planning on waiting right up until the last day or so before freeze is expected, go ahead and call to get on the winterizing schedule and you can still get it done.

The first freeze usually isn’t the killer freeze that damages a lot of water pipes. The first time it freezes, the ground is still above freezing and the temps usually don’t drop that far below freezing, and most components will not freeze.

But after the ground gets cold enough, and the daytime temps stop getting warm enough to keep the ground warm, a moderate freeze can do major damage to the system.

If you have the knowledge and equipment, you can winterize your irrigation system yourself. If you don’t, or you’re not quite sure how to go about it, give us a call, it’s not that expensive and can save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills come Spring time.

If you need help with winterizing your system, you can contact us a number of ways

Call us at 731.642.2876 or 888.664.LAWN

Email us

Or stop in and see us at 124 Whitlock Rd., Puryear, TN.

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Can Your Lawn Look Like Wrigley or Progressive Field?

Progressive Field, Home of the Indians

The Indians Progressive Field

Yes, with the right grass, proper maintenance and attention to your lawn’s needs.

In West TN, we live in the “transition zone” of the United States, or sections of zone 7 – 7A. This means we can grow both warm season and cool season grasses. Both Wrigley Field and the Indians’ Progressive Field have Kentucky Bluegrass on them which is a cool season grass. You might guess by their name that a “cool season grass”, grows best in the cooler climates with less humidity. Bluegrass will grow in our area of NorthWest Tennessee, but it does require more maintenance than Fescue and it’s not as hardy as some Fescue varieties.

Hardiness Zone Map

New USDA Hardiness Map

Bluegrass is common in the northern states from KY to New York, Ohio, etc. Their climate is suited much more to fit Bluegrass than ours. In the North, they don’t have as much humidity as we do in the South. Humidity is one of the biggest killers of our cool

Wrigley Field Bluegrass

Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field

season grasses in our area. Mainly caused by brown patch and other fungus’.

So what would it take to get your lawn to look like a professional field? The grass type is just the beginning. After you either sod or seed, you will have to apply fertilizer and weed control 5 to 7 times per year to keep the lush green grass and weed free look.

Irrigation is another key, you don’t have to have an automatic irrigation system, but it will lessen your work load . You can water by pulling water hoses and sprinklers around if you have more patience and energy than you do money. But however you do it, your new, lush green grass will need regular water, if you’re not willing to do it, don’t waste your time and money reseeding your lawn.

The first step is to determine if your lawn is smooth enough already to have a smooth cut after the new grass grows in. If you have lots of dips and holes coupled with high spots, you will not be able to have a smooth cut. Your mower can only cut as even as the grade is on your lawn. So if it’s real rough now, it’s still going to be real rough after you reseed it, unless you do a total renovation reseeding, and do something to level out the grade so you can have a smooth lawn.

Total renovation of the lawn will include tilling it up, leveling it, then seeding, fertilizing and strawing it. You can learn more about how to do these on our website SEEDING PAGE.  Simple aeration and overseeding will require far less work, time and money but should only be done if your current grade or smoothness of your lawn is acceptable. If you are having a sore back from hitting potholes in your lawn while mowing, you will want to do the total lawn renovation, and level it as best as you can. It will be worth it in the long run. There’s nothing like mowing a nice smooth, lush, green lawn and enjoying the smell of fresh cut grass.

Getting a first class “pro field look” starts after the seeding is done and your new grass comes up. The seeding/establishment part of it only takes a few weeks, the maintenance that you will do from here on will determine what the lawn looks like in the long run. The “pro look” of your lawn will take a few seasons, so don’t give up if it’s not where you would like it to be after your first seeding.

Lush dark green color comes from regular fertilizing and weed control. The fertilizer gives the green, the weed control keeps the junk weeds out which usually have a lighter green color, size and texture. These junk weeds will do more to trash up your lawn than anything else.

You notice light and dark stripes in the professional fields. This is what we call “striping” in the Lawn Care Business. This is done by mowing in alternate directions, and by using a roller behind your mower you can enhance these stripes even more. Some mowers do a great job of striping, while others not so much. You can practice by just mowing in a straight line down your lawn, then turn around and mow straight back up towards the house. You should be able to notice a difference in the color of the two passes.

Lawn Stripes

Lawn Striping done with a Scag Mower

Mowing Fescue tall, at 3″ or taller helps to enhance the striping also, but you can stripe grass even as low as 1″ or less. Golf courses do it at as little as 3/8 of an inch.

Keeping a great looking lawn starts with getting a good stand of grass, of the right type, keeping it fertilized and clean of weeds, proper mowing, keeping it watered when it needs it, and a few other maintenance items you will have to do. Like lime applications, fall leaf removal, aeration and the occasional overseed to thicken it back up.

If you do these things on a regular basis, over the course of a few seasons, you can have a pro-field look. It’s not easy, and you will have some patience and spend a few dollars on maintenance products or hiring someone to do it for you. But if you want that look, that’s what it will take.

Lawn Care is Hard

Lawn Care Is So Hard!

Remember that these pro fields are maintained by a crew of professional grounds keepers with an unlimited budget, with every piece of equipment you could possibly need, provided for them. They have someone managing the team that has been maintaining pro fields for years, sometimes generations, so they know what they are doing. Don’t get discouraged if your efforts don’t produce a Wrigley field in the first season.

Got questions? Drop us an email and we will be happy to help.

Do you Have What it Takes to Install a First Class Lawn?

With our help, you do!

Most homeowners want a pretty lawn, you have spent thousands on your home and it’s just natural to want to make it look as good as it possibly can. A beautiful, lush, green lawn will frame the home and set it off. So, how do you get it?

You can call us, we can do anything for you that your mind can believe and conceive, but the bigger the dream, the bigger the price tag. You can still get some of what you want by doing the work yourself. Just order our book “Establish and Maintain a First Class Lawn, Like a Pro”

Establish and Maintain a First Class Lawn, Like a Pro

Install the lawn of your dreams using our expertise, and your hard work.

This book is the result of our 26 years experience, years of studying lawn and turf principles and methods, and putting them to use in the real world.

We lay out the “how to’s” to get a great looking lawn. Everything from different methods of establishing a lawn. From the total kill down and complete restoration to a simple aerate and overseed method. Which is best for your lawn, when to do it, how much seed to use, how much and what kind of fertilizer should you use, and how you should maintain your new lawn once it comes in.

 

 

 


Everything that we lay out for you to do, is taken directly from our experience in doing exactly what we do for our customers each and every day.

If you have the energy, and desire to do this yourself, you surely can. It’s hard work! But with guidance, you can do it!

Over the last 26 years, we have gladly given away thousands of dollars worth of information, advice and instructions on how to do certain lawn and landscape maintenance chores. We are happy to help our customers. If you download our book, you automatically get access to answers to your questions by email. Just drop us a note and we are happy to answer and help you.

Our new book is an E-Book, first designed for Amazon’s Kindle, but now can be downloaded and read on any device using Amazon’s free Kindle Reader App Currently we do not yet have a hard copy of the book available. However, click here to download Establish and Maintain a First Class Lawn, Like a Pro  and then let us know if you have any questions about how to complete your project.

Our Background 

Lawnmasters was started in 1990 after owner and founder, Greg Pierce had just finished up his second bout with cancer, and it’s treatments. The Company was then started out of his love of seeing a new lawn establish and grow into a beautiful, lush, green lawn. Greg Pierce, CTP (Certified Turfgrass Professional) founded Lawnmasters as a “Weed and Feed” type of Company to apply fertilizer and weed control products to the lawns of customers in our service area. This was all we planned to do, but due to the demand for more services, we started doing complete lawn and landscape design, installation, and maintenance.

We quickly grew from a one-man business to one of the largest lawn and landscape Companies in our area.

Today, we are finishing our 26th year in business and have serviced customers from Paducah, KY, to Memphis, TN, to Franklin, TN. We are licensed, insured, bonded, and chartered, for our customer’s protection. We have been very successful in our field for the last 26 years, and we are happy to give back to those who have helped us get there.

Greg has also finished his third fight with cancer and is currently doing well.

If you have any questions about the book, drop us an E Mail

 

Sod or Seed A New Lawn? What’s The Difference?

You have a new home and you now need a new lawn. So, what kind of grass? And now how to establish the new lawn, Sod, Seeding, Sprigging?
zoysiairr

Which you do will depend on a couple of things, first being how much money do you want to spend. What’s the difference in Sodding or Seeding? Can be a few thousand dollars. The determining factors are going to be cost, climate, type of grass, time of year being established and end result desired.

1) Cost – The cost of Sodding will be approximately 3 times the cost of Seeding. So if cost is your only determining factor, get it as cheap as you can, then seeding is the way to go, if you want instant grass, Sodding is it. So….do you have more patience than money? Seed. Want an instant lawn? Sod.

2) Climate of your lawn – Some areas of the Country we can sod any time of the year, other parts of the Country we can Seed any time of the year. But there are parts of the Country where we can’t do either at certain parts of the year. So depending on the type of grass you are establishing, you will not be able to Seed at certain parts of the year. Refer to our website for more detailed information on types of grass and when to seed them Click Here For Establishment Page The most important thing to decide upon is what type of grass you want, then what time of the year it can be established will determine the rest.

3) Type Of Grass – This we’ve covered a bit already, but you need to determine the type of grass you want, then you can determine the time of year it can be planted, sodded, or sprigged. As well as how it can be established.

4) Time Of Year – The time of year you are trying to establish a lawn may determine how you do it. Sodding can be done during most of the year, hot weather will stop Fescue in the hottest part of the year, freezing weather will stop most types of sod also. But if you are wanting to seed, there are two times of year to seed Fescue and other cool season grasses. Fall is #1, Spring is #2. During the summer is out for cool season grasses for seeding.

5) End Result Desired – If you want your lawn to look like a park, then you will want to Sod. Seeding can get great results, but you must have patience. If ALL conditions are great, and you do your part to take care of the lawn as best you can, it will still take a year to get a lawn looking as good as a sodded lawn would look immediately. So don’t think your going to seed a lawn and pay 1/3 the cost and get the same immediate results. Seeding can deliver great results if done right, with the proper seed type, proper fertilizer and proper methods. It’s more than just throwing some seed out on the ground.

We have tons of information on our website about seeding, sodding, and maintenance to keep it looking good. Click Here for More

You can also follow our projects on Facebook

What Type Of Grass Should I Have?

boboThis is a common question we get here at Lawnmasters. And I have to say that the answer changes depending on your property. If you have full sun, full shade or a mixture of the two, you will have choices to make. Also, where you live in the United States is going to change the answer.

For our area, West Tennessee, we have four main types of grass that we can grow well.

1) Bermuda Grass – Bermuda in Hybrid or Common varieties will grow very well in our area as long as you have full sun. Bermuda will not grow in the shade at all. As a matter of fact, when someone asks me how can they get rid of the Bermuda in their lawn because they want another variety, I say MOVE! That’s the only way you will have no Bermuda. Shade is the only thing that will kill it out. Even spraying it with Round Up will not kill it. It will just grow right back. So if you have full sun, and want a maintenance free lawn, go with Bermuda.

2) Zoysia Grass – Zoysia (Japanese Lawn Grass) is a cousin to Bermuda. It grows in the same full sun conditions and is a Warm Season Grass just like Bermuda. Only it will take much more shade than Bermuda. So you can sod it or sprig it near trees, just not all the way up under them. Zoysia grows very thick and lush and is the cadillac of the lawn grasses for our area.

3) Fescue – Fescue will grow in the shade, so it is a choice when you have a shady lawn. Our problem with Fescue in our area is that lately, (last 4 years) we have had yearly droughts and the fescue takes a beating from the heat, drought stress and gets beat up on by the trees that it grows under. The tree competes with the grass for water, and the tree wins. Fescue will grow in the full sun also, again, our problem here in this part of the US is that in the Summer the climate conditions are just a little too harsh. If we have mild Summers it will survive just fine. But as a general rule, the Fescue has to be re-seeded every fall to keep it thick. Fungus also hits it hard, mainly Brown Patch. It is a cool season grass and looks the best for longer of the year. But it’s high maintenance. Use it with caution.

4) Bluegrass – Some new varieties of Bluegrass are out that are handling the heat and climate of our area much better, and the jury is still out on them as to whether or not they are a good choice. In the past, the Bluegrass varieties would die out from too much heat. I hope these new varieties work out well, there is a place for them in our zone. Bluegrass is a cool season grass and will take the sun and shade so if they do work out, it would be a good choice.

Which is right for your lawn will depend on how much shade and how much maintenance expense and or time you are willing to put into it.

For more information on Lawn grass types, maintenance and establishment go to our website Here Lawnmasters

Find us on Facebook