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Lawn Aeration OR Dethatching

August 12, 2013

I recommend Lawn Aeration using a machine that removes cores from your lawn in cases where you want to improve your existing lawn without tearing it up.  (Click here for a link to a blog posting from last year that explains all the benefits of lawn aeration.)

A dethatching machine may be a better choice if you are trying to remove dead thatch to expose soil so new grass seeds have a better chance of getting started.  (Click here for a link to a blog posting I recently wrote explaining the steps to kill off your existing lawn to start over with new grass seed.)

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  1. Joe permalink

    I am planning to aerate and reseed my lawn in Southern Massachusetts. What is the timeframe I should do this? Is it around 1st Sept.

    I am planning to put Heat Tolerant Blue Mix and Starter fertilizer for new grass on the same day as aeration.

  2. Joe permalink

    Also, is it OK to apply fertilizer with 2% iron after one month and then winterguard after 6 weeks?

  3. Glenn J. permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    My wife and I have a home in south central PA. Last year I tackled a pretty good chunk of the backyard and slice seeded it as well as applied starter fertilizer. I can slight evidence of the grass coming in (a rye/fescue mix) but no where near what I was hoping for. I don’t know what was previously done for feeding. The more research I do online I’m thinking a fall weed and feed around the middle of September when I get home from work could lead to some good results. The backyard is huge at almost 2 acres so I’m slowly tackling sections of it with seeding and the like and letting Mother Nature take care of the watering. I don’t really want to kill the lawn and start from scratch. I’ll be interested to see what a followed schedule of fertilizing can do for it. I’m also thinking about aerating the section I seeded last year. Any advise you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Glenn J
      Sometimes when folks have a large lawn like yours, they decide to give different care to a portion that is most important. Say feeding a 15,000 sq. ft. area 4 times a year and feeding the rest only once in the fall. You are correct, weed & feed in the fall works very well. It will work best if you apply in the morning when you have dew on the grass on a day when rain is not expected. Do not put weed controls in any newly seeded areas until the new grass has been mowed 4 times. If you seed any areas, it really helps to water them on a daily basis until you see the new grass. Good luck with your lawn.

  4. Joel Pressley permalink

    Hi Ashton,

    I intend to apply Scott’s Turf Builder Winterguard in the next few weeks. Would you explain the benefits of Winterguard plus Weed Control? Is this a pre-emergent product? Am I to understand that I should not apply weed-control if I am planting new grass? Thank you for your response.


    • Hi Joel
      WinterGuard Weed & Feed is not a preemergent. It controls actively growing dandelions, clover and other broadleaf weeds without harming your good grass. Apply to moist foliage when rain is not expected for 24 hours. If you are seeding, you need to wait a month after putting down this product to seed and you can not put it on new grass until you have mowed 4 times.

      • ChrisZennNYC permalink

        Hello from Rockaway NYC!

        We had a rough summer post Superstorm Sandy…lawns have been very difficult to manage!
        A family member just applied Wintergurard on my lawn in error–will this harm my grass?

      • Hi ChrisZennNYC
        Not to worry. Your friend just gave your lawn a good feeding. Lawns in your area benefit from 2 or 3 fall feedings. So, I suggest you get your friend to feed your lawn again in about 6 weeks and Turf Builder WinterGuard is a good choice.

  5. Jared permalink

    I Ashton,

    My lawn is looking fairly good for the most part but there is seems to be one area that is not as rich as the rest, Its still healthy I think but its lighter green and blades seem to be finer and doesnt grow as rapid. Wondering if it maybe has something to do with using some different overseeding brands earlier in the spring or if you have any idea what it could be.

    One more question….certain areas have a hint of brownish grass near the top of the blade. I looked and the top of the blade of grass in these areas is brown but then lower down it is green. Not sure if this is a small fungus problem or what u think? Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks


    • Hi Jared… Sounds like there is a different grass type in that area. New grass can look different than old grass of the same species, however by the time a year rolls around the two will look similar. If this has been in longer, this could be a different kind of grass. Brown at the tip of the grass blade can mean your lawn mower needs to be sharpened. Most of the time a lawn fungus will first show up in the lower part of the plant.

  6. John Swanson permalink

    I previously hired firms for Lawn Aeration. But a year ago I had a lawn irrigation system installed. Can I get lawn aeration without worrying that my sprinkler heads or lines will get ruined?

    • Hi John I am sure lawn aeration companies deal with this all the time. Suggest you show them your system when you get bids and based on what they say you will get confidence that they know what they are doing.

  7. Robert permalink

    Hi Ashton.
    I am planning on overseeding and repairing some deadspots in my Kentucky Bluegrass lawn this fall. I plan to both aerate and top-dress before seeding. I was wondering if it is best to aerate then top-dress before seeding or reverse the top-dressing and aeration before seeding? Also, how much top-dressing should I put down for the overseeding areas versus the repaired areas?

    • Hi Robert
      Suggest you aerate first. If you are not trying to fill in low spots or attempting to fix an uneven lawn, you do not necessarily need to top-dress. If you decide to top-dress after you aerate, you would spread around an eighth of an inch. In the areas you are seeding you could lightly mix in a quarter of an inch or so into the top inch or two of your existing soil. The main thing is your want your seed to make contact with your soil and not just the dead grass on top. Spread some Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food for New Grass when you seed.

  8. Full Time Dad permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    Need help in deciding Kentucky Bluegrass Mix or High Traffic Mix. The backyard is in the sun all day, with the kids playing back there after school. The dogs also use a part of the yard. We are also will be killing the patches of fescue that are spread throughout the yard. Which one would you recommend after we aerate the yard?

    • Hi Full Time Dad
      Love that you are a “full time Dad”! I am a big fan of Scotts Heat Tolerant Blue Mix for many areas of the country. Since I do not know where you are located, I can not say for sure that this is the blend for you. I like this blend for the combination of three Turf-type Tall Fescues and our Thermal Kentucky Bluegrass which has more heat/wear tolerance than the typical Kentucky Bluegrass, while providing the spread of new grass plants from rhizomes to make help create a thicker turf.

      • Full Time Dad permalink

        We live in Marysville, Ohio. We weren’t keen on the Heat Tolerant Mix because we didn’t like the fat blades of fescue. We were also informed at the hardware store that Fescue will not spread out to bare spots or dead areas when those times come up. In fact we love the grass in front of the R&D area. Every time we drive by we never see weeds and it is always green.

      • Hi Full Time Dad… The three turf-type Fescues in the blend are very near the texture/blade width of Ky Bluegrass, not like coarse Tall Fescue varieties. The Thermal Ky Bluegrass in the blend does have the ability to spread. Since the Thermal Blue seeds are smaller than the Fescue, the actual blend is probably 20 to 25% Ky Bluegrass by seed count. We really liked the area we planted in this blend when we lived in Central Ohio. And you are right, the lawn in front of the R&D building on Scottslawn Rd is very nice and is planted in Heat-Tolerant Blue.

  9. tommy v. permalink

    Mr Ritchie, im new to north east Ohio , this is the first time i have had to worry about a lawn. we have fescue, i put down a bag of scotts feed in late june, we have had a lot of rain and the dandelions and crab grass are going nuts , i have a 1/4 acre worth of lawn, i just purchased some ortho weed killer max that im gonna spray, when do you think i should apply scotts weed and feed also could you suggest a good weeding and feeding program for me ie.. when to apply and how many times.
    thanks for your time and help

    • Hi tommy v.
      The Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer should take care of your weeds so you may be able to skip the weed & feed this fall. Your crabgrass is very mature by this time of year so the Weed B Gon may not take care of it completely, however it will die with the first frost. The main thing is to feed your lawn twice this fall: Turf Builder in Early Sept and Turf Builder WinterGuard in mid Oct. Be sure to put down Turf Builder with Halts around the first of April next year to prevent crabgrass.

  10. I have a back yard not much sun want to aeration and reseed live in Michigan Front yard is ok but some crabgrass and clover and side yard I have some green moss would like to just aeration and seed and deal with those things come spring help please

    • Hi Mary
      Thanks for telling me where you are located. Sounds like Turf Builder Shade Grass Seed is your best choice for the back and Turf Builder Sun & Shade Grass Seed for the other areas. Put down Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food when you aerate and seed. Feed again in about 6 weeks with Turf Builder WinterGuard. You may even consider a third feeding this fall with WinterGuard around mid November. In April put down Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer. You can treat any moss in spring with Scotts Moss Control.

  11. I live in NC and have mowed low, thatched, and used leaf catcher to get all clippings for the last three mowings. My yard has been full of weeds. Worst ever. I am planning to aerate and seed next week. Is it time and then what’s next?

    • Hi Bobbie
      Most lawns in NC are Fescue. If you are planning on seeding a Fescue blend like Scotts Heat-Tolerant Blue, now is the time. You would spread Scotts Starter for New Lawns when you seed and then feed 4 to 6 weeks after seeding with Turf Builder WinterGuard. You can spray your weeds with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX once your new grass has been mowed 4 times. You would want to make sure you put down a crabgrass preventer like Turf Builder with Halts in late March. The other types of lawns that grow in your area are Bermuda and Zoysia. These grasses are best seeded in spring.

  12. Elaine B. permalink

    Hi, I live in Northwest Indiana. We moved into a new house a year ago. The backyard has some issues. Tons of clovers. Dead spots from some flower beds, an old dog house, and a kiddie pool. There are some bare spots as well. I have a black thumb to say the least… but what should I use to kill the clovers? What kind of seed do I use to grow the grass? and how and when should I aerate all in the next month or so? Oh and what order to I go in?

    • Hi Elaine B.
      It is getting late to plant grass seed this fall in your area. It is not too late to kill weeds like clover. You can spray your weeds with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer OR you can feed your lawn with Turf Builder WinterGuard with Plus 2 Weed Control. You would then seed your lawn in spring with one of the Turf Builder Grass Seed Blends that matches your conditions (like “Sun”, “Sun and Shade”, “Dense Shade”, “Heat-Tolerant Blue”, etc.). When you seed you will need to feed with Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food plus Weed Preventer. This will encourage your new seed to grow while preventing weed seeds from crabgrass and other weeds from getting started. This product is compatible with grass seed, while other weed preventers are not. You will see big improvements in your lawn over time if you are able to feed it about 4 times a year.

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