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Second to fertilizing, cultural practices are critical to the health of your lawn. Our turf care programs focus on the overall health of the turf plant. We try to minimize the use of pesticides in all cases. That's because the healthier turf grass is less likely to require pesticide applications to keep it healthy and looking its best.


Maximum benefit

One of the most beneficial things you can do for your lawn is aerating. Aeration is the process of mechanically removing soil cores from the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil. Soil cores break down over a period of two to three weeks and provide many benefits.

Opening up the soil surface improves air exchange, reduces soil compaction and increases fertilizer absorption by the roots. The most significant benefit of aerating is reduced soil compaction. This immediately improves water absorption, reducing water run-off and puddling that leads to moss development. Soil microbes in the cores are left on the lawn to help break down and control thatch (the layer of dead material between the green grass and soil). Aeration also improves root development, making the turf more drought and pest resistant.

Annual aeration is plenty for most lawns. However, lawns that have moss, are located in high-traffic areas, or consist of heavy clay soil may need additional aeration to manage compaction and improve drainage. Aerating is recommended when renovating a lawn before seeding, and in conjunction with verti-cutting.

Aerating in the spring after a pre-emergent herbicide application will not reduce the efficacy of the treatment. Field tests conducted by Ohio State University demonstrate this. So, if you are deciding whether to aerate in spring or fall, do not base your decision on the fact that you've already started your seasonal turf care program. You still can safely aerate. The most beneficial time to aerate is when the lawn is actively growing.

Aeration overview

Verti-cutting (dethatching)

Verti-cutting, or vertical mowing, is the process of mechanically removing thatch buildup in your lawn. Thatch is the layer of dead biomass (stems and roots) between the soil and grass.

Thatch that is less than a half-inch is beneficial to the lawn because it shades and cools the crowns of the turf grass plants, improves a lawn's resiliency and reduces compaction from foot and equipment traffic. Thatch that is thicker than a half-inch impedes water and fertilizer penetration, reduces pesticide effectiveness and can harbor harmful insects and disease organisms. How do you know if your lawn has too much thatch? Your ground will have a spongy feel because moisture in thatch evaporates more quickly than moisture in soil, so water doesn't reach the soil. Also, grass roots will begin to grow in the thatch layer, making the lawn less drought resistant.

Grass with vigorous growth habits, lots of sun exposure and aggressive fertility programs tend to build up thatch more rapidly. Thatch will also accumulate when the soil pH is too high or too low, when grass is cut infrequently and grows too tall, and when soil is compacted. We can manage light thatch with core aeration, but this will not completely manage a more serious thatch problem.

To remove thatch we use a process called verti-cutting, which is similar to de-thatching. A verti-cutter can be used on all types of turfgrass, while a de-thatcher will damage certain types of grass. The fixed blades on the verti-cutter cut deep into the thatch layer, pull up thatch and dispose it on the lawn, similar to how a core aerator machine works. We then remove the thatch from the surface. While vigorously raking the lawn by hand can accomplish a similar result, verticutting is less labor intensive, more cost effective and does not damage remaining turfgrass. Lawns that have thatch layers of more than a half-inch may require more extensive renovations.

Any mechanical process for removing thatch will cause some damage to remaining turfgrass. However, core aeration does not damage the turf and will control minor thatch buildup.

Verti-cutting once per year on an actively growing lawn minimizes excessive thatch buildup. Certain fast-growing lawns, such as creeping bentgrass, require a double dose of verti-cutting. Verti-cutting is often performed when renovating a lawn, prior to slit-seeding and often in conjunction with aerating. Combining over-seeding with verti-cutting helps to fill in areas of the lawn that are weak or thin.

Verti-cutting overview

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