Spring and fall are good times to aerate, fertilize and over seed your lawn so air, water, and nutrients can really penetrate deeply, softening the soil, and promoting root growth. Use a core aerator when the soil is moist and soft, not dry, and not muddy. The next step is to over seed and fertilize, which should occur after the threat of freeze is past in the spring, or well before the first hard freeze of fall.
Using a core aerator.
First, make sure you choose the core aerator that’s right for your tractor. We’re using a Frontier CA2072 Core Aerator (US CA) matched with a John Deere 4066R (US CA) Compact Utility Tractor. These core aerators will fit compact and utility tractors with PTO ranging from 20 – 70 hp. They are compatible with Category 1 or Category 2, 3-point hitches and are also iMatchTM compatible.
These core aerators are ground driven and use a series of hollow tubes, or spoons, spaced evenly across a rotating flange that dig into the soil as the unit moves over your lawn, removing plugs that are about ½” wide by about 3” long. The holes left behind allow air, water and nutrients to reach deep into the ground, promoting turf root growth, and reducing soil compaction. The plugs left behind will soon decompose and provide additional nutrients for your lawn.
Before aerating, make sure you remove any obstacles that may be present. If you have an in-ground irrigation system, be sure to mark all sprinkler heads as the aerator spoons can severely damage the sprinkler heads.
You should experiment to determine the best operating speed for your unit and lawn conditions. This is usually 2 – 5 miles per hour. When turning around, lift the aerator using the 3-point hitch, turn and set up for your next pass, lower the unit and begin aerating again.
Within 48 hours after you aerate you should over seed, fertilize, and water your lawn. The seed, fertilizer, and water will have the best chance to get down into the holes made by the aerator if applied soon after aeration. If you plan on doing this, make sure you use a starter fertilizer that’s appropriate for your grass and growing conditions that does not contain any weed control. If the fertilizer contains weed control, your grass seed won’t germinate properly.
And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.