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 Post subject: Yard Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2003 12:35 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Corinth,TX
I have a St. Augustine yard. Is it ok to aerate this time of year or shoud I wait until spring?


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 Post subject: AREATE
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 4:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 5:48 pm
Posts: 806
Location: Weatherford,TX
Where are you and why do you want to areate??

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 Post subject: Aerating St. Augustine.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 5:33 pm
Posts: 829
Location: Dallas,TX
Yes, it's fine to aerate now if you would like. It's also a great time to put down soil amendments after you aerate so they can get into your soil more easily. Compost, cornmeal, greensand...all great to add in the fall.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:11 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 11:17 am
Posts: 315
Location: Dallas,TEXAS
Generally I like to mechanically aerate twice a year, once in mid to late February and once in October prior to apply soil amendments. I've also been been putting down lava sand in order to eventually lessen the need to aerate mechanically. In the two years I've been doing this on our lawn's black clay based soil, I haven't reached that level in certain areas where there's either moderate foot traffic or other factor leading to soil compaction.

~Dave


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:36 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 8:18 am
Posts: 10
Location: Mesquite, TX
Dave,
What type of mechanical aerator are you using and where did you get it? I also have the black clay and would like to aerate this month. Can you rent an aerator?

Thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:53 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 8:18 am
Posts: 10
Location: Mesquite, TX
Dave,
What type of mechanical aerator are you using and where did you get it? I also have the black clay and would like to aerate this month. Can you rent an aerator?

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Aeration
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:44 am 
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 5:33 pm
Posts: 829
Location: Dallas,TX
Yes, you can rent an aerator. Don't forget you need to increase the biological activity to loosen the soil and allow it to clump into tiny particles. That's where you get that "chocolate cake" consistency vs. the hard, impermiable clay you probably have now. Achieving that requires the addition of organic material (compost, grass clippings, cormeal, etc.) and molasses is a great microbe simulator. In time this provides natural aeration. Adding volcanic material always helps but it's not enough on its own. It cuts down on the physical labor and enriches your soil. Easier and less expensive in the long run.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:17 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 8:18 am
Posts: 10
Location: Mesquite, TX
Thanks for the reply Kathe,
I've been doing the organic methods you mentioned since March of this year when I built a new house and started with a clean slate (so to speak). The land was farmland about 7 years ago, so I have no idea what chemicals were used on it then. But since then, nothing but organic products and methods have been used.

I am considering aeration because I find little evidence of earthworms. See my post in the General Gardening & Landscaping forum at http://www.dirtdoctor.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2183

Any idea where I can rent an aerator?


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 Post subject: Renting an aerator
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:45 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2003 2:57 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Lago Vista, TX (Austin Area)
I know in Austin they rent aerators at Home Depot.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 5:21 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 8:39 pm
Posts: 532
Location: Lavon,Texas
phildirt
Just came from Home Depot and they have them there. Don't know the cost to rent. Suggest you call first to verify the Home Depot by you rents tools. Not all Home Depots do.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 12:25 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 3:45 pm
Posts: 2884
Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
I am generally against aerating simply because Nature does a much better job when you set it up right. Follow these steps and you should never need to aerate again.

1. Water deeply and infrequently. This is THE most important step. If you water frequently and just for a few minutes, you will develop a thin layer of soil that can't support deep roots or water penetration. Deeply means for an hour at a time or until runoff, which ever comes sooner. Infrequently means no more often than ONCE per week in the heat of summer and once per month during the rest of the year. Now if you live in Las Vegas with pure sand and zero organic matter, you might need to water more often, but not for long.

2. Mow high (except for bermuda, centipede, and bentgrass). Tall grass develops deep roots that penetrate deep into whatever soil you have. Deep roots keep the channels open for water to flow in when it rains or you irrigate.

3. Fertilizer with organic fertilizer regularly. I fertilize my lawn with corn meal on Valentine's Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Organic fertilizer will feed the microbes. The microbes in turn will open up the soil with trillions of pores per square foot. An aerator can only punch a few thousand holes per 1,000 square feet. The microbes have you beat on this one.

When you do the above, your soil will turn 'rock hard' between waterings. This is good. Then when it rains or when you water, it will return immediately to the softness that you're looking for. My soil is so soft after a rain I feel like I'm going to twist an ankle.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 10:43 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 10:51 pm
Posts: 747
Location: Garland, Texas
pdavis,

Living atop the Metroplex's black gumbo soil, I can say that over the course of many years and the use of many organic ammendments, nothing has produced more immediate improvement to the overall appearance of my lawn than when I have had it core aerated. Depending on the soil composition in your area, I would recommend you try it at least once.

phildirt,

Rohde's (in Garland) pricing is (as I recall) very competitive vs. renting a machine. They do core aereation.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 11:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:29 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Rowlett TX
This might be a good 'hire it done' thing. I looked into this a couple years ago before I discovered organics and there is a piston type core aerator that leaves little cores on the surface and punches holes - for our gumbo soil when it gets compacted that seems a reasonable thing to do at least once. If it takes all of those 2" cores and you spread compost and other amendments (greensense 5-2-4 is my all-time favorite stuff) so it can fill those holes back up it would seem like you'd get a lot of bang for your buck.

For what it's worth - I have very soft soil now and I tend to overfertilize if anything... I am using greensense, cgm, Milorganite (don't start with me) and compost and now molasses too - I also use a mulching mower and silly as it sounds i sharpen the blade with one of those Oster dog nail grooming grinders before every cutting so the 'mulch' is teeny-tiny.... I cut this evening and there is no sign of clippings.

This has resulted in very soft soil after 2 years - after a rain you go squish. I also use the infrequent watering and it is great for Bermuda - I water right about the time the ground is ready to crack but completely saturate the lawn from about 5am til 10am moving the sprinkler til it hits every area twice and hits it hard. I see a ton of worms in spring when the ground gets saturated so it seems to be working awfully well.

How long is the grass???? If you have bermuda a LOT of folks have it wayyyyyyy too high which invites a gazillion problems around here. If you go ahead and spread a bunch of compost and rake it in then add your organic fertilizers I think you will find the thatch layer disintegrates and your now shorter lawn has better soil.

With the greensense I find that if you go a little nuts and spread a LOT of it then it really expands when wet and will absolutely loosen soil. I aerate some with a garden claw when on the phone in Spring and fall when i am spreading lots of amendments.

Hope that helps.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2003 11:25 pm 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
I'd like to say something about "my" three steps to softer soil posted a couple messages ago on this thread. These are not my opinion. They are the collected opinions of successful professionals and homeowners from gardening sites around the Internet. I have read probably ten thousand messages in the past couple years that hover around this topic. These three steps were NOT my opinions two years ago, but I have asked a lot of questions. I have posted my (old) opinions and have received feedback to steer me to the three steps above. In fact, the only part of my original opinion left is number three on the list - and it is relegated to number three because I find it to be the least important of the three. So that list is almost like the culmination of a research project in which I had picked the wrong hypothesis.

By far, the people who do not have to aerate anymore use step number one (deep infrequent watering). It doesn't seem to matter what other mistakes they might make, step one is the single most powerful thing you can do to stop soil compaction. Step number two (mowing high) adds frosting to the cake. Step number three is almost relegated to being optional compared to the aeration power of steps one and two. Still I think the best results come from using all three.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 10:00 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 11:17 am
Posts: 315
Location: Dallas,TEXAS
Mechanical aeration, for me, is (hopefully) an intermediate step along the path to getting my black clay soil to the state where it's balanced and stablized in terms of overall health and specifically compaction. I've been at this house for a year and a half and the st. augustine turf here was pretty well established from the get go and looked great this spring and into June.

However, this past summer did point out some problems. Infrequent and deep waterings worked fine until about mid July. After some extended periods of high temperatures it became painfully obvious that deep, infrequent watering was not going to cut it. I was lucky to get more than 3 or 4 days between deep waterings. The soil was just too compacted and I'd have limp, curled blades 2 days after watering. I absolutely had to increase the frequency of the watering.

In an effort to bring all of this under control I've just had my soil tested (waiting on the results still) so that I can have a more accurate picture of what my soil's health is like and where its needs lie. A year and a half of heavy amounts of lava sand, cormeal, fertilizers, humates, cgm, dog food kibble, molases, garret juice drenchings, compost, green sand and naked rain dances under a full moon haven't brought my compaction/water retention issues under control. Mechanical aerating has helped a small amount immediately afterwards, but not yet enough by any means. I'd really like to get it to the state where your 3 step program will suffice, but I think Mr. Clean hit on something when he mentioned that particular types of soil perhaps need a more immediate and effective aeration solution.

~Dave


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