Core Aeration – Lawn Talk Podcast

Lawn Talk with Harold Enger – Podcast Transcription

Episode: Core Aeration

Tim Kauffold: Welcome to Lawn Talk, I’m your host Tim Kauffold. Lawn Talk is a series of conversations with Spring-Green lawn care professionals. Joining me is Harold Enger. Harold has worked in the Green Industry for nearly 30 years and is a Certified Turfgrass and Ornamental Landscape professional. In today’s episode we will be talking about core aeration and the importance of this service for your lawn. So, Harold, to start out, what is core aeration?

Harold Enger:  Core aeration is known by two different names. Some people call it core aeration and some call it core cultivation. It’s the same process, just two different names. But basically, it is a machine that goes across your lawn with large tines coming out of the central staff or central axle. And as this goes across the lawn, it removes plugs of soil, thatch and leaves. This opens up your lawn allowing for more air, water and nutrients to penetrate into the root zone. It’s probably the best process you can do for your lawn outside of fertilizing it. In fact, if you couldn’t do anything but aerate, you’d probably do well for your lawn.

Tim: Okay, and you mentioned the machine is going to pull these plugs up out of the lawn. Do I need to do anything with those?

Harold: No, the whole advantage of the cores that are left behind after the core aeration, are the microorganisms in the soil, this will breakdown as it rains, or you water your lawn, and the soil will match back into the thatch layer. We’ve talked about thatch in the past, but just briefly, thatch is the leaves, roots, stems, grass blades that build up at the soil line. A little thatch is okay, but getting much above a half inch can lead into some problems. By putting these cores back, the microorganisms in the soil which are in the cores, will break down the thatch naturally and keep it at a manageable level.

Tim: And as I am thinking about doing this, what time of year do I need to plan a core aeration?

Harold: Well, you can do core aeration just about any time of the year as long as the lawn has enough moisture so you can get out a good plug. Probably the best time of year to do it is in the fall, because that is the time when you have the most active root and rhizome growth. You can also do it in the spring, because it’s the second most active time. And again, as the machine goes across and takes out these plugs you are opening up the lawn. Now, there is more air and water that can get down into the soil. In fact, if you go out to look at the holes, in about two weeks after you do the aeration, you’ll see little, white root hairs growing down in the core from the surrounding grasses. You will see that the lawn has some place to grow more root. If you have a healthy root system, you will have a healthy lawn.

Tim: And is it a good time to seed my lawn after I aerate, or do I want to give it some time?

Harold:  The perfect time to seed is after aeration. In fact, in parts of the country, it’s a standard process when a core aeration is completed, overseeding is automatically done afterwards as part of the service because it is a very important time to do that. A lot of times people will just throw seed across their lawn and say I’ve seeded my lawn and all you’ve done is given a lot of bird seed out. You aren’t doing anything to help that seed grow because the seed has to come in contact with the soil. And by having these holes where the seed can fall, or the cores that are laying on top, the seed can adhere to that soil and begin to germinate. The seed will actually germinate inside of the hole and as that hole slowly collapses the seed plant or the grass plant will rise up to the surface, so it’s going have a  good root system as the hole begins to collapse, and you will have a much healthier lawn. You can take a lawn that’s very thin, core aerate it, overseed, and it will produce a much nicer lawn.

Tim: And now help clear up some confusion. What is the difference between a core aeration and power raking on a lawn?

Harold: A lot of people, I think, have heard the term power raking. And in some areas of the country power raking, or slicing, is a necessary service. For most turf grasses, we would rather see them core aerate the lawn, because you are changing the structure of the lawn. A power rake is a machine that has a series of steel rods or shafts that come down and go across at a very high velocity. And it’s called a power rake because it looks like a rake. It is supposed to skim across the top, but homeowners think if a little is good, a lot is better. So, they’ll set the machine down nice and low, thinking they are going to get all the thatch out at one time when they go across with a power rake and end up doing a lot of damage to their lawn. As these stingers or tines go around, they are actually damaging the crown of the plant, breaking the roots and ripping up the plant. You end up with quite a mess because you have thatch on top of the ground, which looks like a lot of thatch, but actually you may have removed an eighth of an inch. Where the other process with the core aeration, by bringing up these cores, you are enabling the lawn to break down the thatch naturally.

Tim: If you would like to know more about services available from your local Spring-Green lawn care professional, visit the Spring-Green web site, at  There you will find more detailed information, including how to contact a Spring-Green lawn care professional in your area. This has been Lawn Talk, an on-going series for homeowners looking to protect and enjoy their outdoor investment, brought to you by Spring-Green Lawn Care and its many local lawn care professionals nationwide.

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Thanks and have a green day!

For more information, visit our core aeration page.