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aeration panacea or myth?  RSS feed

 
                              
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I actually have my buddies fancy plugger in the yard he used to make bank aerating lawns. shall i use it on my lazy organic 4 month old grown from sod dwarf fescue lawn, or no?
 
paul wheaton
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MJ Solaro
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Out of curiosity, how old should the sod be?

Then, once it's old enough, to the original posters' original question: is aeration a panacea or myth?
 
paul wheaton
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It depends.

If you are going to do it and then lay down a bunch of compost - that's damn smart!

If you have really good soil, and a thick, healthy turf already, I think it's a waste of effort. 

If you are fighting lots of weeds and you are going to temper your watering to only when your lawn needs it, it could be part of an excellent strategy.

I think that 95% of the time, it isn't worth the cost or effort.

 
                              
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"If you are fighting lots of weeds and you are going to temper your watering to only when your lawn needs it, it could be part of an excellent strategy"

Just back from pulling dadelions. please elaborate on the above. I do plan on tempering my h20( in fact the neighbors think I'm crazy for watering after the rain, not mereley because I'm in my robe with beer in hand at night)  and i do have weed city on my smallish front lawn. The foes are oxalia and dandelion. the sorrel/ oxalis is part of another thread. how does poking holes in the lawn and h20 relate? Or is more a matter of compost in poked holes?
 
paul wheaton
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If your soil is, say, 18 inches deep, and you have trained your grass to go deep for water, then the aeration will help to make the top few inches of soil bone dry.  Most shallow rooted weeds will die.  And many weed seeds will die.  Weed seeds that go down one of the holes, however, will probably do quite well.
 
                              
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Thats counterintuitive for me, which MEANS PROBABLY CORRECT. I
tHINK MY LAWN IS TOO CRIPPLED TO HAVE much turf to speak off., some of the grass has been there for some time.There are the odd grass patches competing for resources. FYI the lawn is slightly sloped, which may aid in drying/drainage. Have you ever nursed such a crippled lawn back to laziness with the aid of "plugging"?
Maybe I'll get some pics up. Good experimental space. dont really have anything to lose, may just replant/sod in the upcomming season.  As it stands. Over the last 3 years in the rainy season/mild santa cruz winter, what little grass is there begins to be overtaken by the faux clover/oxalia/yellow sorrel, which is green and pretty. Come spring this guy is very happy and a flowering. Then the what-I thought-for-years-was-clover begins to die (above ground) and I am left with very little grassy greenery.
Peresozo and as slothful as I maybe, I have.
1)Begun a program of deep but infrequent watering and high cutting.
     [ However, I chose to mill the oxalis down low one time in the spots where there was virtually no grass so the mystery grass could perhaps get a bit of light, dont think much grass got cut this go round]
2) Despite the early spring, and its weed nourishment potential, I have fertilized using fishy smelling purportedly natural/organic Dr. Nature hoping to  give the grass some nitrogen. I went with a double dose after a rain because "local Knowledge" said high nitrogen might deter the oxalis and encourage the grass. The Dandelions like it too, I know they like a different PH. The locals arent known for their wisdom.
3) I will now not water until the grass shows symptoms of needing a deep soak. May do some sorrel plucking as well.
Of note...we had a drought followed by two pretty damn wet months for the area which may impact the yardage.
Plugging supposedly get air to the roots or something. Tell us about the weed desicating theory. Bet I can dig down 4 feet and still find black loamy soil. Though we are drought prone, My dirt is in a high water table and we have lots of dew/fog in the eves/morns.
Soilent green is people. Sea Monkeys are  not.
 
paul wheaton
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My experience with aeration is pretty limited.  I did a fair amount of it in my youth because my understanding at that point was limited. 

It doesn't really do any harm that I can think of.  Other than the cost, the time, and with really poor soil, the "plugs" feel like rocks.  My thinking on it is that it generally isn't worth the cost and effort.  Other things pay off much better.

If I were about to lay down an inch of fine grain compost, I think that doing a lot of aerating first would be smart, but would it be worth the cost? 

Pictures are always helpful.

By following the stuff in my web page, you will see good results this year, but you will probably still have some weeds this year.  Each year you will have less weeds and thicker, healthier turf.

Double dose?  Probaby not wise.  A double dose of lawn fertilizer is sure to kill your lawn.  And if it is not a lawn fertilizer, but something more balanced, you could raise the levels of phosphorus and potassium to toxic levels and nothing will grow.  I generally recommend half dose twice as often.  Or, better yet, one quarter dose, four times as often.

Go out there and dig a hole.  Let's find out how deep your soil is.

 
                              
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Well as to double dosing w/ the dr natures/ I had first 1/2 dosed in another yard, then full with decent results.We shall see.
As to digging I'm down to China now. We dug three or four feet down once, to remove an old rotted stump same soil. Wormsville.
 
paul wheaton
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well not with much detail, and this was in the back yard. I cant see the trees for the forest. black loamy topsoil. Well the truth is i dont know what loamy really means. very dark soil, not clayey...its um er dirt-y I can sure as heck dig a hole up front and tell you what i see. should i be hunting anything in particular?
A core sample.....intriguing.
 
paul wheaton
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Let's assume it is fantastic. 

You should be able to get a thick tall turf in short order.  And that turf will easily beat out damn near all weeds. 

And you shouldn't have to water it very often at all.

 
                              
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just pulled up a 2 foot by 2 foot or so square of the oxalia tops beneath there is little to no grass. Figured id use this as a test area. My thought was to get the choked grass there some light, didnt find much. I have read the myths of overseeding. how big a turf gap before ya better do some seeding?
in one area there is a nice tall turf with a broad leaf mystery grass...may have come from a scotts bag, or been blown in by the wind. it is doing well and i can mow at the tallest setting of my Scotts Classic on which is written in sharpie mow high, which has an all together different connotation to most Santa Cruzians.
 
                              
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PS
I really want to burn a square like I read grandpa used to do, but then again he killed weeds with diesel and introduced kudzu to the south.
 
paul wheaton
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I gotta tell ya that those weed burners are really fun ....  for the first 15 minutes.  Then it's just work - and kinda gruesome work.

Seeding:  if you have a patch that is overwhelmed with some kind of weed .... and you are past getting frost,  you could try to plant some annual ryegrass.  It will grow really fast and thick.  And in the fall, it will die with the first frost, leaving behind a bare patch where you can plant tall fescue.  The tall fescue will take a while to get established, but it will live forever.
 
                              
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hmm, so trying to "match" our dwarf fescue or start tall fescue in the grassless spots now would be a bad idea, but seeding w/the rye for now could be good, interesting.
 
paul wheaton
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The trick is that the higher quality grasses take a while to germinate and establish.  By the time they get going, the weeds could have beat them. 

Annual ryegrass leaps out of the ground and grows like gangbusters right away!  But at the first frost, it drops over dead.
 
                              
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We sometimes get no frost.When it dies off would be the time to replace with fescue?
Maybe, I'll hoe the oxalia down as best I can and pop in the rye.
 
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