DIY Core Aeration – Is Aerating Your Lawn Worth It?

core aeration

Of all the beneficial things you could do to ensure a healthy, beautiful lawn, core aeration is second only to fertilization. By disrupting the surface of the lawn and the soil beneath it, core aeration allows more air, water, and nutrients to reach the turf’s root zone. This in turn encourages better lawn root development below the surface and—you guessed it—healthier, thicker, greener plant growth above. Compacted soils are loosened, restrictive layers of surface-level thatch are broken, and your turf uses these improvements to its natural advantage, growing stronger and healthier as the surface repairs itself.

Virtually all U.S. regions and all common turfgrasses can benefit from regular aeration. What differs somewhat is the timing. According to information provided by Bayer Advanced, the best time to aerate a lawn is prior to a period of vigorous growth, during which the lawn can best recover from the disruption intentionally created by the aeration process. For cool season grasses, that time is late summer into early fall, making sure to allow at least a month of growing time before the threat of frost sets in. For warm season grassses, late spring to early summer is your best bet.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Core Aeration

Is core aeration worth it for your lawn? Yes, absolutely! Is it worth doing it yourself? Let’s weigh the options of do-it-yourself (DIY) aeration versus having the work done by a professional lawn care service.

No matter who does it, the work is performed using a specialized core aeration machine. This is a powerful and somewhat heavy motorized device that drives hollow tines several inches into the ground, extracts plugs of soil and plant material, and then deposits them on the surface as it moves forward. The desired result is a visible pattern of holes in the ground and plugs laying on the turf. Over time, the holes will be filled in with loosened soil, new roots, and grass plants, while the plugs break down and assist in the decomposition of the thatch layer that builds up on the soil surface.

This would be a piece of cake if the machine did all the work and the operator merely had to throw a switch on or off, but such is not the case. The machine operator controls where the machine goes, taking special care to avoid damage to irrigation heads, pavement features, flower beds, children’s toys, and other common obstacles. The operator must also determine whether soil conditions are favorable before commencing the operation. The key concern here is moisture. Soggy soil will clog the tines whereas overly dry soil will be difficult at best to penetrate. Aerating during a prolonged period of drought or excessive heat may do more harm than good.

The application of additional grass seed to an existing lawn, sometimes called overseeding or reseeding, is best done immediately following core aeration of a lawn. Fertilizer applications are also more effective at this time. This is because the openings caused by the aeration process make it easier for the new seed and/or nutrients to penetrate the soil. Obviously the individual applying these materials must know what to apply and at what rate.

Better To Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

So which provides the better value for core aeration, DIY or using a professional lawn care service? Consider the following.

● Who will transport the core aeration machine to and from your property?
● Who will determine whether conditions are favorable to aerate your lawn?
● Who will ensure the safe and effective operation of the core aeration machine?
● Who will be responsible for any damage incurred to properly identified obstacles?
● If applicable. who will be responsible for properly overseeding/reseeding your lawn?
● If applicable. who will be responsible for properly fertilizing the lawn after aeration is completed?

When properly performed, under favorable conditions and at the appropriate time, core aeration will most assuredly benefit your lawn, whether you do it yourself or bring in a lawn care professional. With that said, if you have questions or concerns about core aeration or any aspect of caring for your lawn, please do not hesitate to contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We have a wealth of professional lawn care experience to share with you.

DIY vs. DIFM: The Homeowner’s Ultimate Dilemma

DIY VS DIFM

Homeowners often face the dilemma of when to draw the line between doing it themselves and hiring a professional. Sometimes the consequences of DIY are unforeseen, until you’re looking at a dead lawn a week later. Other times DIY can save you money, and provide a great learning experience. On the other hand, hiring a professional for lawn care gives you more free time. Here we look at the pros and cons of each:

What are the benefits to DIY lawn care?

Doing projects yourself brings the satisfaction of the experience as you bask in your self-sufficiency. Setting aside a time of day to go outside and care for your lawn gets you outside and encourages interaction with neighbors. You might also notice other things that need attention while you go about your work, like a lightbulb that needs changing, or a sprinkler head that fought the snow plow and lost.

Is it cheaper to maintain my lawn myself?

If this isn’t going to be an ongoing project, you’ll benefit from short term savings. Although the DIY approach opens up new learning experiences if you plan to do this long term, this can sometimes be lessons learned the hard way, and more money spent to correct problems.

If you want to take your lawn care into your own hands, factor in the value of your time. Is spending your free time caring for your lawn more important to you than conspiring with your wife on how to keep the squirrels off the bird feeder?

Consider the cost and maintenance of equipment and the space you’ll need to set aside to store it. You’ll also look at buying and storing the necessary lawn, weed, pest and disease treatments for your lawn, and take necessary precautions to keep them away from moisture, children and pets. Your lawn care professional buys these at a significant discount they pass onto their customer.

What are some common mistakes?

Lastly, remember inexperience can lead to mistakes. Using incorrect fertilizer ratios, over spreading/spraying, or misusing pest control products can harm your lawn, the environment and your surrounding landscape/hardscapes. Coverage can differ for different grass species, and certain species require different nutrition. Some pests that emerge during certain times of the year don’t need to be controlled. Be sure to consult the product’s packaging, and accurately calculate your lawn’s square footage.

What do I gain from hiring a professional?

Hiring a professional to do the job may require swallowing a bit of your pride. Although spending time with your family Saturday morning instead of spreading fertilizer quickly soothes any blow to your ego.

Our experienced professionals know how to address specific nutrient deficiencies, pest/weed invasions, or common lawn care mishaps. They can even spot small problems that can turn into larger, more expensive problems later, like pests and disease—and nip them in the bud. If you foresee lawn care being a priority for the next few years, allowing us to handle your lawn will also be cheaper in the long run.

How else can a lawn care professional help me?

You won’t have to worry about buying, storing, or maintaining equipment either. This leaves more room in the garage for your growing collection of toys, which you now have more time to use. Spring-Green professionals at your home can provide guidance and education to the curious homeowner on topics like how long to water, when to water, or the best time of day to mow.

What’s the timeline for results for DIY vs DIFM?

You’ll also likely see results more quickly than your average DIY homeowner. We know how to tackle common problems with specific techniques, and we’ve been doing it for 40 years. It’s possible to see great results by doing-it-yourself—and it’s rewarding, too—but if you’re looking for healthier, greener grass, you might want to consider hiring Spring-Green.

Thinking about spending your free time somewhere else other than your yard? Get in touch with Spring-Green for a free consultation to see what a lawn care plan can do for you.

Your Guide On How To Attract Different Species of Birds.

Bird and feeder

I subscribe to a Do-It-Yourself newsletter put out by one of my favorite stores, Home Depot and from there I get a lot of creative ideas. I thought I would share one of my favorites with our readers. In the current issue, there is a clever idea on making a bird house and incorporating a succulent plant in the design. It looks like an interesting project and one that could easily be completed in a weekend. Check it out! 

At this time of year, when it begins to warm up, we have a tendency to forget to fill the bird feeders we have tended to all winter. Due to the change in weather we don’t think we need to keep adding food to the bird feeders. We assume that there should be plenty available now that the snow is gone when in reality, there is less bird food available now than any other time of the year.

What kind of bird seed should you be purchasing? 

There are numerous types of bird seed and bird seed mixes available to purchase. Some seed can be fairly expensive, while some seed blends are relatively cheap. If you are looking to attract a large variety of birds to your feeders, cheap seed is not the way to go as they tend to attract only sparrows.

It is best to stay away from seed mixes that contain a high percentage of milo or millet seed. Here are some suggestions on which seed will attract which birds:

  1. Black-Oil Sunflower Seed –This is probably the number one choice to attract a diverse group of birds to your feeders. It is easy for birds to open and provides lots of energy.  This seed will attract cardinals, nuthatches, finches, and many other birds.
  2. Hulled Sunflower Seed – This is the same seed as above, but with the hulls removed. This makes it very attractive to squirrels and is quite expensive, so make sure to use a squirrel proof feeder.
  3. Safflower Seed – This is a favorite seed of the northern cardinal, house finches and mourning doves.  The great thing about this seed is that most squirrels will leave it alone.
  4. Nyjer Seed – Thistle or Nyjer seed is a favorite of finches. One of the great things about this particular seed is that you don’t have to worry about thistles sprouting in your lawn or under the bird feeder. This seed comes from India and Africa and is sterilized before entering US.
  5. Striped Sunflower Seed – This seed has a tough shell and is difficult for most small birds to open.  Cardinals, blue jays and even woodpeckers will feed on this seed, but it more likely to attract squirrels, raccoons and even skunks to your feeders. If you wish to use this seed, try placing it away from your other feeders.
  6. Cracked or Whole Kernel Corn – This is a common ingredient in many seed blends, it will mainly attract blue jays and other game-type birds as well as squirrels, raccoons, skunks and other types of mammals. Again, keep this seed in a feeder away from your other feeders.

Keep feeding the birds that visit your home throughout the year. They are fun to watch and, every now and then, a new species of bird will find its way to your feeders.

What kind of bird seed do you like to use in your feeders? Let us know by commenting below.