Core Aeration and Seeding FAQS
When you’ve been providing amazing results for Greater Richmond lawns for over a decade like Picture Perfect Lawn Maintenance has, you begin to hear some common questions from an array of clients. While some of these questions relate to fertilizer, some to mowing, and some to landscaping, there seems to be a greater number of questions at Core Aeration and Seeding time.
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, Core Aeration and Seeding are a big investment each year, so it only makes sense for a homeowner to want to know everything they can about what to expect from those services. We’ve collected a list of the questions we get asked most often and that are valuable to understand throughout this fall process in your lawn. Watch our Core Aeration and Seeding Video here.
Through this blog, we’ll discuss what to do with your aeration cores and what a yard usually looks like after being double core aerated. We’ll also examine the type of seed we use in your lawn, when the right time is to put down seed, and whether or not to put straw down over fresh seed. If you don’t find an answer to your Core Aeration and Seeding question here, please comment below, and we’ll be glad to answer you directly.
Should I Collect the Aeration Cores Left in my Lawn?
No, we do not recommend picking up and removing the plugs of soil left behind from your Core Aeration and Seeding service. These cores, roughly thumb or cork sized, are just pieces of your property’s soil that have been pulled out of the ground to reduce compaction. Reducing compaction allows for the easier movement of water, nutrients, and roots, which in turn aids in creating a healthy lawn.
Trying to gather and remove these cores is certain to be a chore for you since there are likely thousands of them or more throughout the lawn areas. Since they will break down on their own over the course of a few weeks thanks to your watering schedule and natural forces like rain and wind, there really isn’t a need to bother with removal. These cores of soil contain important nutrients present in your yard, so it’s counterproductive to take that away from returning to your soil.
Why Can’t I Tell that the Whole Yard was Double Core Aerated?
The lawn maintenance industry is unfortunately one that has an ongoing history of bad experiences between providers and homeowners. Whether it’s an inexperienced provider who hasn’t perfected the art or an unhappy client who didn’t receive enough communication on what to expect, we see an unfortunate amount of mistrust and negative assumptions. Therefore, it is important to us to clarify whenever a service doesn’t look the way a client expected it to.
An example of this is after an Core Aeration and Seeding service when cores aren’t visible throughout the entire property. PPLM provides a double core aeration where we go across the yard in an overlapping pattern to maximize on breaking up compaction. As a result, an aerated strip of the yard will then have the tire of our machine crossing back over it on that second pass, as you can see in the picture below. This often creates an appearance of an incomplete service when that really isn’t the case.
Additionally, whether it’s due to extreme grading, high saturation, underground obstacles, or too tight of a space, our machines will not always be able to reach every inch of your property. This too is not going to compromise the success of your seeding; fescue seed can almost always grow on an unaerated section of soil. So long as the accessible parts of your yard have been aerated thoroughly, your service has been successful.
What Kind of Fescue Seed is being Put Down by PPLM?
With dozens of seed labels and varieties available on the market, it is important to know what is being put down in your yard. Whether you’re hiring a company to do your seeding or you plan to do it yourself, quality seed is vital to successful results. Picture Perfect Lawn Maintenance uses some of the best seed available on the market, and we attribute a lot of our lawn success to our seed.
PPLM uses a triple blended turf type tall fescue seed that is certified blue tag. But what does that really mean?
⚫ – Triple blended: There are three varieties of the same type of grass mixed together, increasing the chance of successful germination and the lawn’s resistance to potential problems like disease.
⚫ – Turf type tall fescue: This is the kind of grass being planted. Turf type tall fescue is a cool season grass standard for the Greater Richmond area due to its pleasing appearance as well as its hardiness in poorer quality soil.
⚫ – Certified blue tag: Seed is tested by trained authorities and ranked on a color scale based on quality. Blue tag is one of the highest qualities and guarantees that each bag of seed has high rates of germination and zero weed seed presence.
We strongly encourage you to ask potential providers what kind of seed they’re using or, if you’re seeding yourself, to check the label to make sure the seed doesn’t have any weed seed present and is fit for your lawn’s needs.
Shouldn’t You put Straw over the Seed?
Putting hay or straw down on top of fresh Core Aeration and Seeding is rarely a good idea or even necessary. First, hay and straw usually have a high chance of having some amount of weed seed carried with them. As a result, that weed free high quality fescue seed and spring weed control you’ve invested in is being undone by the weeds brought in on your straw.
Second, on a properly graded residential lawn with some amount of grass already present, putting straw down doesn’t really do anything. The idea behind putting straw down is that it holds your seed in place until it germinates so that it doesn’t runoff. Unless you have a completely bare and steep slope that you are trying to seed, the risk of runoff is minimal.
The State Fair is Ending, so I Need to be Scheduled Now!
Our part of Virginia has long held by the calendar rule for when to perform Core Aeration and Seeding. The rule of thumb has been to do Core Aeration and Seeding within a week before and after the two weeks of the state fair, which puts the service between mid-September and mid-October. Some years, this works out perfectly, and it’s what PPLM aims for when planning the service as early as the spring and summer.
That being said, as we experience more and more weather extremes and a changing climate, the calendar is becoming less and less reliable. This year (2018), we’re seeing that more clearly than ever before. After having record breaking rainfall all spring and summer, this September has been the third warmest on record in Virginia, and the first two weeks of October are continuing to be almost ten degrees higher than average temperature lows and highs.
These significant weather variations don’t just cause the hurricanes and tornadoes we’ve experienced this year; they also impact the success of your Core Aeration and Seeding. Fescue seed is most successful in germinating when air temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees. At this point, Virginia isn’t projected to achieve those temperatures until the later half of October. Next year, we might be below that range at the end of September; it’s getting harder and harder to predict.
To stay ahead of the calendar, PPLM is trying to instead follow the weather as much as we can when determining our aeration and seeding schedule. While we usually try to be done around mid-October with the service, we are expecting this year’s aeration and seeding to continue into the first few days of November. While this is later than usual, it does not make it too late. “Too late” for aeration and seeding in our area is the end of November and on when the leaves have started to fall and we’re getting regular frosts.