Power core aeration is one of the most important cultural practices available for your lawn. Aeration works by removing thousand of small cores of soil 1” to 3” in length from your lawn. These cores slowly break down back into the lawn over a few weeks’ time.
Aeration helps to control thatch, relieves soil compaction, creates growth pockets for new roots, and opens the way for air, water and fertilizer to reach the root zone. This results in the stronger, healthier root systems that are necessary to achieve the best-quality lawn possible.
The months of September and October are the best time of the year to do any lawn seeding. Cooler weather is ideal for young seedlings to start growing while summer weeds begin to decline. Fall seed establishment also allows the grass to get mature enough by springtime for crabgrass control to be safely applied.
Many seed mixes are available at local garden centers. By law, they must list on the package a breakdown of grass types and the percentages of each. For sunny lawn areas, mostly Kentucky bluegrass varieties are best (some perennial ryegrass and red fescues are acceptable in the mix). For shady areas, a higher percentage of red fescues should be included in the mix (along with shade-tolerant Kentucky bluegrasses and perennial ryegrass). When purchasing grass seed, you usually get what you pay for in quality.
Seeding can be done in various ways: hydroseeding on loose soil, slice seeding into existing turf, or spreading seed after dethatching or core aeration. All of these methods cultivate or loosen the soil first, providing good seed-to-soil contact to help the seed stay moist. Seed that is just spread on top of unprepared soil will dry out quickly and won’t be able to get rooted. For small spots or thin areas that need seeding, you can just rake the areas with a steel rake and then spread seed.
After seeding, daily watering is critical. If the seed dries completely at any point in the germination process, it will die. Also, keep in mind that some of the better grass types (e.g. Kentucky bluegrasses) can take 4 to 5 weeks to germinate. So, while the ryegrasses in the mix may be up quickly (1 to 2 weeks), watering must continue to get the best grasses established.