Aeration vs. Verticutting
Should we aerate and overseed or verticut and seed? This question gets asked a lot this time of year, and the answer is it depends. There are many factors that help make this decision but the key being how thin is the lawn and how serious do we need to seed an area.
Aerating and Overseeding
The process of aerating your lawn consists of punching holes in the lawn about ¾ “ around and 3” deep. This allows our clay soils to expand and reduce the compaction from traffic and being baked in the sun all summer. If the compaction is reduced we can get better root development. Aeration also helps control thatch buildup by bringing those cores of soil back up to the surface and having them filter back down into the thatch layer. If you are in need of lawn care in Overland Park, KS; lawn care in Leawood, KS; lawn care in Olathe, KS; or lawn care in Kansas City, MO, one of our local lawn coaches at Heritage Lawns & Irrigation will be happy to help in this process for you.
This adds microbes to the thatch which speeds up its decomposition. It’s like composting your grass clippings. If you throw a pile of grass clippings into a corner and come back in a couple of weeks you just have a stinky pile of grass clippings. But if you turn those grass clippings and add some soil to it they will start composting and turn into good organic matter for the plants. Aerating is for thatch control and relieving compaction.
Over seeding after the aeration will allow some of the grass seed to germinate in the holes and help thicken the lawn. But the grass only grows in the holes which are spaced every 6” or so. This goes back to the need for good seed soil contact in order for grass seed to thrive. This isn’t a good process for bare or extremely thin areas. It is better as a routine maintenance practice to thicken fescue lawns since they don’t spread like bluegrass.
Verticutting and Seeding
Verticutting is using a machine much like a lawn mower except that it has many vertical blades instead of 1 horizontal blade. This machine is designed to cut small grooves in the lawn down through the thatch layer allowing the seed to drop into the soil. This will give you long lines of grass growing up through the thatch layer. This is a good way to seed in very thin and bare areas.
Aerating then Verticutting and Seeding
This brings up the question then if one is good then more is better right? And which comes first? Look back at the concept of You Must Have Good Seed to Soil Contact and you will have your answers. The more you work the soil the better the germination and the seed must get into the ground. So the best of all seeding techniques then for thin and bare lawns would be to aerate the lawn first, then verticut in one direction, apply your seed, then verticut again in the opposite direction. This will give you a good seed bed in an established lawn and work the seed into the soil.