School has started, tailgates are cranking up, and landscaping companies across Richmond have their fleets stocked with seed, fertilizer, and aerators. That’s right, it’s turf-growing season.  I wanted to take the time to talk about the importance of aeration and why you should do it, product selection, and maintaining after the service is completed. Finding the cheapest price may not always prove to provide the best results!

     Aeration is a process that allows more air and water to enter the soil, penetrating and reducing thatch, breaking up compacted areas, and eventually allowing healthier grass to grow. Using a core aerator, 1-2’’ plugs are removed from the ground and left for further nutrients.  August is a tough month in Richmond, with days of high heat and no rain, patches of thatch and dead spots become common. Aeration is a vital step in returning your turf into the healthy yard you saw in the Spring.

     Your next step is to over seed the lawn. Seed selection is extremely important and is what I am most frequently asked about. Seed blends can contain pure live seed (PLS), crop seed, weed seed, noxious weeds, inert matter, or any variation of the group. The PLS number on each bag of seed describes how much of the particular seed will actually germinate based on the variety. The higher the PLS, the better chance you have of all the seed germinating. The bad things in the blend include weed seed, other crop seed, and inert matter. These are items that are in the blend that you are still paying for, but cause disruption in the growth of new turf strands.  It is best to purchase products with no more than .5-1.5% by weight in the bag.

     Your fertilizer selection can greatly enhance how quickly and how efficiently your new turf starts to grow. Most fertilizers contain three different numbers on the bag. This describes how much Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium by percentage are in the bag. A slow release fertilizer is recommended, as it is active longer and continues to provide nutrients to the seed and soil as the new seed starts to grow. Our 10-3-2 fertilizer combination is a natural, non-burning, organic blend with carbohydrates that provides a rich soil environment that are less susceptible to disease activity.

     Maintaining the lawn after the service is somewhat forgotten. This is where people like me need some assistance from the client. Making sure your irrigation run times are set to keep the seed wet throughout the day is step one. We recommend roughly 5 minutes a zone twice a day, every day, for the first couple of weeks. Not disturbing the lawn is recommended as well. This includes not mowing for 2-3 weeks after the service. Once you start to see some new growth is when you can start mowing. During that 2-3-week gap, get your mower blades sharpened to insure the turf is being cut, not shredded!

     For contractors, aeration season becomes an all-out bidding war. There are tons of Craig’s List and Facebook Ads advertising aeration, seed, and fertilizer services for $50, $80, $100 up to “X” amount of square feet. As a customer, it is important for you to ask the right questions to make sure the money you spend on your lawn is worth it in the long run.  Rates, seed mixes, and fertilizer types are all critical parts in insuring healthy turf growth. We have found that these lower prices include a seed mix with a high weed and crop percentage, low purity and germination rates, and low spread rates. We recommend and spread at a rate of 6 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. At 2-3 lbs. per 1,000 square feet, which is common at these rates, is not an adequate amount of seed to fully establish and rebuild your lawn. Why do you think you these ads do not include their spread rates?

     At the end of the day, choosing the right contractor to perform the service is very important. Why invest the money at all if it is not going to be done correctly in order to provide the best results? There are many reputable businesses in Richmond who may not be the cheapest for this service, but they will certainly back the product that they are installing, provide you with information as to what to do before and after the treatment, and be around the next year WITHOUT a coupon, when you are looking to do it again.

For more information about our aeration services or product information, please contact our office.

Eric Ellington- Vice President