Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

FEB 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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by Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA; Steve LePera, Schiller Grounds Care E Even though most lawns across the county are still dormant, and many even covered with snow, it's not too early to give thought to pre - paring and repairing your customers' lawns when the weather warms in your area. Follow - ing are tips/reminders of best practices from turf specialists. Aeration Aerifying improves drainage and prepares the soil for seed in the northern U.S., where cool-season grass is dominant. Warm-season grass does not need annual aerification, but if a lawn suffered a drought-induced dormancy period last summer or fall, core aerification can stimulate growth and improved surface coverage, according to Clint Waltz, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia. There are several types of mechanisms used to penetrate the soil. Vertical slic - ers or slit aerators use thin blades to reduce surface area compaction. Spike tine aerators feature solid shaft tines to relieve the compaction found in transplanted grasses like sod that have a rela - tively shallow layer of grass root and soil ap- plied over sandy or porous basins. Core tine aerators have hollow shaft tines that remove a plug or core of turf, thatch and soil to instantly relieve soil compaction. Most landscape contractors, turf care profes - sionals and golf and sport field superintendents in the United States use core tine aeration over all other methods. Professionals surveyed determined quality of core to be a combination of three factors: core quantity, core depth and core pattern. While all three factors were considered sta - tistically significant in the final survey results, landscape contractors put more emphasis on core quantity as a productivity factor, where turf care professionals and superintendents put more emphasis on depth and core pattern. Core quantity is determined by the number of tines, tine spacing, rate of operation and to some extent, the tine drive mechanism – the two most commonly used in powered core aerators being tine wheels that rely on weight 28 LC DBM Guidance from Industry Specialists T UR F SPRING PREP Above In core aeration, there are two primary core patterns: straight line and staggered. Both patterns will aerate the turf grass effectively so long as the holes are spaced evenly apart in any direction. Profes- sionals suggest a two- to three-inch tine pattern. When in doubt, test a small area in a crisscross pattern and measure the distance between the holes with a ruler or your thumb. Left Accounting for an average half-inch thatch layer, aerate at a depth of at least two inches to relieve soil compaction, and allow an additional half an inch to create a growth pocket to promote deeper existing root growth. Heavy traffic areas with deep rooting systems may require deeper aeration from time to time, while other areas may only tolerate shallow aeration. Us- ing an aerator that allows for easy depth adjustment provides flexibility on the go. Core depth must be monitored. Make a first pass and pick up a few cores to ensure consistent depth. PHOTOS: CLASSEN (except where noted)

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