Jesse's 2018 Restoration

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g-man
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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by g-man » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:09 pm

Check the label of the product. I think it is 16 weeks from application.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by bernstem » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:37 pm

A single roundup application is unlikely to kill quackgrass. It is a particularly invasive and hardy weed that will require multiple applications of Glyphosate (roundup). There are very few options for selective control in cool season grass and most of those are either no longer labeled for cool season turf, are only available to professionals or both.

If you are using a pre-emergent in the spring, pay close attention to the label and when you can seed after application. More than one person has had a failed overseeding/renovation from residual pre-emergent in the soil. Prodiamine, for example can be applied at rates that will give anywhere from 3-9 months of protection from a single application in cool season turf. Dimension has a shorter soil half life and is generally a safer pre-emergent if you are planning a fall seeding, though Prodiamine can be safe if dosed at the right level.

As far as what to seed with, I am a firm believer that uniformity is the most important factor in how a lawn will look. My general recommendation would be to use a blend of 3+ cultivars from the same species. In your case, that would be 3+ Tall Fescue cultivars. You want to choose cultivars that have similar color and texture numbers in the NTEP that do well in your area and are resistant to any diseases that you know show up in your lawn.

Improving the soil will generally mean adding organic matter. That include leaves, compost, peat moss, etc. Looking at your soil test your CEC is only 3.9 which suggests a sandy soil which is at odds with your jar test interpretation. If you provide the 2 min, 2 hour and 2 day pictures, that will help others figure out what your soil type is. My guess would be a high sand content (~70%) with the remainder silt. I can't really tell from a single time point, though. It is worth figuring out since if you do have a sandy soil (rather than a clay loam), it will change how you manage the lawn.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Green » Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:16 pm

Hi Neighbor!

Regarding TTTF cultivars: there are lots of good ones. I'm not familiar with "Thor" specifically and I'll have to research it, but I personally have used the following:
Bullseye,
Firecracker LS,
Firecracker SLS,
Titanium 2LS,
Flame (No-Net),
Summer

The two I'm most familiar with are Firecracker LS and Bullseye, because I've been using them since 2012. I've added the others to some areas in subsequent years during overseeding.

Flame and Summer and Jacklin products, while the Firecrackers and Titaniums are Mountainview. I forget who makes Bullseye. My experience is that those Mountainview products and Bullseye, too, are top-notch. I haven't used the Jacklin cultivars long enough to be able to draw any conclusions.

There are others, too, that ranked well in our area. Feel free to mix and match a few cultivars.

By the way, the Craftsman mower (I have one, too) is most likely made by MTD. Mine appears to be a rebranded/modifiedTroy-Bilt, for example (one of MTD's OEM brands). They're actually pretty good mowers...durability isn't their strong point, though, at least on the newer ones like mine (2014 model).
Last edited by Green on Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: Mostly FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Green » Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:31 pm

As far as sprinklers, I've found the most durable and versatile stream-type sprinklers to be:
-Rainbird impact heads
-Hunter I20-00 gear-drive rotary (That's "I" as in "India", and "00" is the shrub model, which doesn't have to pop up like the in-ground models. You'll also need the adjustment tool as well to make settings.)
Either can easily be attached to a basic spike base.

I also like the Dramm Colorstorm oscillating sprinkler which I bought this past year. It's mostly metal, and costs about $40, but when you need an oscillator, it's the best.
Last edited by Green on Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: Mostly FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Green
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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Green » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:37 pm

From your other post:
jessehurlburt wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:30 pm
I am planning an overseed restoration in the Fall of 2018 but lost a section (maybe 50-70 sq') to grubs this past year and want to fix that area in the spring. Along with the helpful info in this PDF that gman shared, I am wondering if I might be better off using 100% PRG for fast germination with the understanding I will be overseeding with TTTF in the fall. My thinking is just get a place holder there as quickly as possible to keep the weeds out until fall. Even if I loose the grass to heat in the late summer, I really dont care since I will fix in the fall, I really just want to keep mud off the dogs paws for the April-August time frame.. Obviously skip the Prodiamine in that area and use tenacity for the seeding..

Spring Seeding Tips: http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-20-W.pdf
Here's my opinion on that:

Ryegrass tends to be super competitive in terms of both its germination/maturation time, root growth, and its usage of water and fertilizer, and tends to also produce a lot of a chemical that inhibits weeds and other grasses from germinating (much moreso than Tall Fescue, for example). The net effect is it gets dense and tends to be tough to overseed into.

As someone who started with a PR/KBG seed mix in Fall of 2011 and then overseeded it with Tall Fescue and more KBG in Fall of 2012 less than a year later, I can tell you that it still took several overseeds over several years to get the mixture to be balanced in some areas. Not only that, but I had to mechanically create space by dethatching and/or aerating each time in order to do those overseeds.

I have not overseeded with any more PR seed on the main front lawn until this past Fall, at which time I used only about 5% (and maybe even less) by weight PR seed, and the was rest KBG and Tall Fescue. Any more than that little bit of PR seed, and I would be fighting a total imbalance for years to come. With the old PR and new PR I planted combined, the lawn will probably consist of 25% PR when all is said and done, which about is what I was shooting for (It adds a nice dark green color and shine).

I'd strongly suggest not starting with PR for the above reasons, but instead adding it in as the final step if you're interested in a mixed lawn. A mixed lawn provides a good, durable turf that's adaptable...but over time will tend to become patchy as each type of grass dominates key areas with differing conditions...unless you're absolutely meticulous about the upkeep. One way to do that is to continue to overseed with the weakest competitor every few years...which usually means the Fescue.

If you just want something temporary, you can do that...but you might have to kill it with glyphosate and/or put soil on top of it before planting again in the future.

By the way...regarding that Craftsman 21" mower...I have one, too. I just assumed it was total junk...but after getting it repaired recently, I learned that, while it's not the most durable mower out there, it has one of the better cut qualities and some features missing on other sub-$500 mowers. It turns out that it's made by MTD...the same company that makes Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt mowers, among others. Mine appears to be a modified Troy-Bilt OEM design, built to Craftsmans's specs. Personally, on mine, the cut quality with the default mulching blade appears to be the best of any mower in my immediate neighborhood, except for a Cub Cadet Z-turn that appears to match, but not exceed, the cut quality. That includes various 21" walk behinds like Toro, Honda, other Craftmans, as well as various lawn tractors. That also includes a commercial Toro Z-turn from a hired LCO that does the neighbor...his mower's cut quality is terrible compared to mine, because his wheels flatten everything and make weird stripes due the weight of the thing. I find the absolute best cut quality on the Craftsman to be at the 3.25-in setting, or second-highest. The side-discharge port does blow leaves around if I'm not careful, even when it's covered by the mulch plug. The trick is to mow from a certain direction when mulching. I also thought the engine on mine was complete junk, but learned from a repair guy that it's actually one of the better ones (6.75 torque and 190cc Briggs). Finally, it's not the most durable mower...it's made pretty poorly from that point of view...but I try not to abuse it.
Last edited by Green on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:40 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: Mostly FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:17 pm

bernstem wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:37 pm
Improving the soil will generally mean adding organic matter. That include leaves, compost, peat moss, etc. Looking at your soil test your CEC is only 3.9 which suggests a sandy soil which is at odds with your jar test interpretation. If you provide the 2 min, 2 hour and 2 day pictures, that will help others figure out what your soil type is. My guess would be a high sand content (~70%) with the remainder silt. I can't really tell from a single time point, though. It is worth figuring out since if you do have a sandy soil (rather than a clay loam), it will change how you manage the lawn.
This is very helpful. After taking another look at my pictures it appears I have a very thin layer of clay. I will try this test out again when the ground thaws.
Last edited by jessehurlburt on Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:24 pm

Green wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:37 pm
From your other post:
jessehurlburt wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:30 pm
I am planning an overseed restoration in the Fall of 2018 but lost a section (maybe 50-70 sq') to grubs this past year and want to fix that area in the spring. Along with the helpful info in this PDF that gman shared, I am wondering if I might be better off using 100% PRG for fast germination with the understanding I will be overseeding with TTTF in the fall. My thinking is just get a place holder there as quickly as possible to keep the weeds out until fall. Even if I loose the grass to heat in the late summer, I really dont care since I will fix in the fall, I really just want to keep mud off the dogs paws for the April-August time frame.. Obviously skip the Prodiamine in that area and use tenacity for the seeding..

Spring Seeding Tips: http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-20-W.pdf
Here's my opinion on that:

Ryegrass tends to be super competitive in terms of both its germination/maturation time, root growth, and its usage of water and fertilizer, and tends to also produce a lot of a chemical that inhibits weeds and other grasses from germinating (much moreso than Tall Fescue, for example). The net effect is it gets dense and tends to be tough to overseed into.

As someone who started with a PR/KBG seed mix in Fall of 2011 and then overseeded it with Tall Fescue and more KBG in Fall of 2012 less than a year later, I can tell you that it still took several overseeds over several years to get the mixture to be balanced in some areas. Not only that, but I had to mechanically create space by dethatching and/or aerating each time in order to do those overseeds.

I have not overseeded with any more PR seed on the main front lawn until this past Fall, at which time I used only about 5% (and maybe even less) by weight PR seed, and the was rest KBG and Tall Fescue. Any more than that little bit of PR seed, and I would be fighting a total imbalance for years to come. With the old PR and new PR I planted combined, the lawn will probably consist of 25% PR when all is said and done, which about is what I was shooting for (It adds a nice dark green color and shine).

I'd strongly suggest not starting with PR for the above reasons, but instead adding it in as the final step if you're interested in a mixed lawn. A mixed lawn provides a good, durable turf that's adaptable...but over time will tend to become patchy as each type of grass dominates key areas with differing conditions...unless you're absolutely meticulous about the upkeep. One way to do that is to continue to overseed with the weakest competitor every few years...which usually means the Fescue.

If you just want something temporary, you can do that...but you might have to kill it with glyphosate and/or put soil on top of it before planting again in the future.

Hey Green, thanks for sharing your experience. Whereabouts are you in CT? Does the PRG you've seeded make it through winter without much loss?

My current line of thinking is to separate my lawn into the front and back. I have total control over the front in terms of no kids or pets running around playing there, so I am pondering a renovation there for the fall. My backyard is a much tougher problem as I have a VERY energetic lab and an equally energetic 5 year old that use the backyard a lot. I have big areas that were just weeds and clover this past year and my concern is using a pre-emregent will leave these areas bare and the backyard will end up a muddy mess. While I am not fond of crabgrass, anything that provides cover back there will work. :oops: I know this won't be a idea that goes over well here, but I am thinking of seeding these areas with PRG in the spring. If the PRG makes it through the summer (and I feel like it will mostly make it through winter) awesome. if it dies in the late summer/ fall I will tear it out and seed TTTF. The big thing for me is my backyard can't be a a bunch of exposed dirt from April to September while I wait to seed.

I knew PRG germinated quickly, but your other comments are making it more appealing to me. I already have a mutt lawn back there, so I am not too concerned with differing appearance of the grasses.

I wonder what kind of PRG is most cold tolerant...?

Oh and thanks for the cultivar suggestions too!

Thanks Green
Last edited by jessehurlburt on Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Green » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:11 pm

I'm in South-Central CT (inland), Zone 6B. I see you're central as well, so our weather is almost the same. I have family on the coast, in Zone 7A. A lot of people argue it, but that tiny section of coastal CT is considered to be the beginning of the US transition zone by many standards.

I have had some loss of PR due to really cold and really hot weather. It's just one of those things that happens in the extremes. The loss was minor to moderate.

My advice is this: allocate part of your yard that you don't care as much about as your low-input area. I have a low-input area as well, which is almost half the yard, (actually, the same size as your entire yard according to your profile) all the way in the back. I manage it totally differently from everything else. It doesn't look that great most of the time. That's ok, though. It's impossible and impractical to be perfectionistic on the entire yard.

For the low-input area, you're going to have to decide if going more toward TF or PR is a better idea. Of course, there are other options, too. Irrigation is a big factor. PR hates even short-term lack of moisture. It's not great at recovering from dormancy. TF has a better drought tolerance, but is even worse at recovering after dormancy...it tends to die soon after. With both grasses, once they go totally brown from lack of water, you tend to lose a lot of it, even when the water returns. But TF stays green longer in those situations. I've recently had to add TTTF to some parts of the low-input area where everything else tend to die out due to lack of water in the Summer.
Last edited by Green on Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: Mostly FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:08 am

What are considered the most low-input, toughest (in terms of foot and paw traffic) cool season grass?

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Sinclair » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:08 pm

Tough wearing actually means fast repairing, and that requires nutrient input if you want it to hold up (somewhat) to abuse from kids and dogs.

Kentucky Bluegrass is the most used grass for sports fields in cool-season regions, and it is also the most nitrogen hungry of the bunch.
Seed down August 26, 2017
This time for real August 26, 2018

25% America KBG
25% Blue Velvet KBG
25% Granite KBG
25% Shamrock KBG

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Green » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:14 pm

jessehurlburt wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:08 am
What are considered the most low-input, toughest (in terms of foot and paw traffic) cool season grass?
The Fescues are the most low-input of the cool-season grasses, as they can tolerate lower fertility than KBG or PR. Tall Fescue can be managed as high-input, but it doesn't have to be. Fine Fescue actually won't tolerate high Nitrogen levels well, as it grows slower than other grass types. 1-2 lbs/M of N per year would be sufficient for a low-input Fescue lawn, provided it's mature. In the first year or two though, all grasses need sufficient watering and fertilizer.

Traffic tolerance probably won't be very good the first year or two with any lawn type.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: Mostly FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:57 am

bernstem wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:37 pm
Improving the soil will generally mean adding organic matter. That include leaves, compost, peat moss, etc. Looking at your soil test your CEC is only 3.9 which suggests a sandy soil which is at odds with your jar test interpretation. If you provide the 2 min, 2 hour and 2 day pictures, that will help others figure out what your soil type is. My guess would be a high sand content (~70%) with the remainder silt. I can't really tell from a single time point, though. It is worth figuring out since if you do have a sandy soil (rather than a clay loam), it will change how you manage the lawn.
Circling back to this one. The ground isn't yet thawed enough to get down 3-4", but I will retest when I am able. Looking at my pics again, it looks like I have a small percentage of clay and the rest is sand and silt. Wouldn't a mostly sandy soil drain very well and quickly though? I have areas that drain poorly my backyard.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by bernstem » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:31 pm

Poor drainage does not necessarily equal clay in the topsoil. For example, sand with fine silt can drain poorly by itself. If Mg levels are high or the soil is mechanically compacted that can contribute. There may be a subsoil that is high in clay. You may have areas of your lawn with a different soil composition.
Last edited by bernstem on Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:51 pm

bernstem wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:31 pm
Poor drainage does not necessarily equal clay in the topsoil. For example, sand with fine silt can drain poorly by itself. If Mg levels are high or the soil is mechanically compacted that can contribute. There may be a subsoil that is high in clay. You may have areas of your lawn with a different soil composition.
I think the previous owners fixed up cars in the backyard where it is the worst. I have core aerated the last two years- last year adding leaf compost after aerating and it still drains poor. Nor sure else how to address this. When I core aerate I get lousy plugs from this area too- maybe only an inch long.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Ridgerunner » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:53 pm

I think the previous owners fixed up cars in the backyard where it is the worst. I have core aerated the last two years- last year adding leaf compost after aerating and it still drains poor. Nor sure else how to address this. When I core aerate I get lousy plugs from this area too- maybe only an inch long.
Pulling inch long plugs is doing next to nothing for the soil or turf. That isn't aerating. You need to be pulling at least 2-3+" cores. Poor soil needs to be prepared (softened) prior to aeration. I water mine the night before aeration. Water acts like a lubricant and will soften the soil allowing for penetration. If you can't shove a large screwdriver down 4-5" with only 30-40 lbs of force, water more or add a surfactant (cheap shampoo w/o any conditioners will do) to help. Don't waste your time until you can get the screwdriver to penetrate to depth. Also make enough passes to make 18-20 cores per square foot.
Ten years ago my situation was similar to yours, my soil was hard as rock (still is pretty hard) with poor water absorption, CEC was 9, 50/50 Sand/Silt, and about 3% OM, but I was able to get a great stand of KBG to establish and thrive in it.
As an option for you to consider and, of course, ymmv, I core aerated, then filled the holes with peat moss. I was able to do the whole yard in a day, but I had an aerator, a tractor, a pull cart and a drag and I was 10 years younger and it was only about 7000 sq feet. Even then, it is pretty hard work.
I've used that same technique a number of times since that initial process. Anytime, I notice an area that starts to look like it's thinning or shows signs of drought stress before the rest of the lawn, I cut short, water well, then the next day I aerate and spread peat moss over that area. I've gotten older, so I don't do more than 100 sq feet at a time. I usually don't even get the power aerator out. I use "the original aerator", a spade fork. Drive the spade fork down 5-6", pull back on the handle enough to just heave the soil ever so slightly, move 4-5" and repeat until the area is done. Then I spread 1/2 of a 3.8 cu. ft bag of peat moss and work it into the holes with the back of a garden rake. Add more peat moss and spread until holes are full. Water well. The next day I work in more peat moss if the holes aren't full. Water well and treat it like the rest of the lawn.
Due to circumstances out of my control, I haven't done this for the last 3 years and there are now areas that really show poorly for it. You could try it on 100 square feet and see if it works for you on one of the real problem spots. Spade forks are $20 and a bale of peat moss is $12-15.
Last edited by Ridgerunner on Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by g-man » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:15 pm

+1

I like to mix peat moss with compost.

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:24 am

Ridgerunner wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:53 pm
I usually don't even get the power aerator out. I use "the original aerator", a spade fork. Drive the spade fork down 5-6", pull back on the handle enough to just heave the soil ever so slightly, move 4-5" and repeat until the area is done. Then I spread 1/2 of a 3.8 cu. ft bag of peat moss and work it into the holes with the back of a garden rake. Add more peat moss and spread until holes are full. Water well. The next day I work in more peat moss if the holes aren't full. Water well and treat it like the rest of the lawn.
I've been eyeing the manual core aerators to try a strategy like this. I am out in the yard with my son and dog so much in the spring/summer /fall I could work on small areas at a time. I am surprised to see the recommendation of a spade over a core aerator. It seems like the spade would poke holes but also while further compacting the surrounding soil. I guess the strategy is simply, get something other than sand and silt down in the ground to help with absorption/soil structure?

My town has a leaf composting program and a mountain of very well composted leaf compost free for the taking. I am eyeing this compost screener to take some of the sticks and debris out. https://tinyurl.com/ya7dkh2z
I will take your and gman's suggestion and mix peat moss with it as I work on the soil.

The snow has been melting this week and we have 50-60 days in the forecast! A site one visit is in order for my pre-m and lime. Cannot wait for warmer days in the yard!!


Thanks guys!

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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Ridgerunner » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:53 am

I am surprised to see the recommendation of a spade over a core aerator. It seems like the spade would poke holes but also while further compacting the surrounding soil. I guess the strategy is simply, get something other than sand and silt down in the ground to help with absorption/soil structure?
You will only want to apply the bare minimum amount of water needed for the screw driver or aerator tine to reach depth, but where the plug will fall apart under gentile poking. Finding this balance will take some experimentation, trial and error. You may need to wait 2 or three days after watering for the soil to reach the necessary moisture content. Too much moisture would certainly be counter productive and could promote some further compaction.
Power or manual aerators will only core down 3-3 1/2" which is good for reducing compaction in the root zone for most turf grasses, but as you surmised, the primary objective here isn't aeration as it is to improve the soil and reduce the effects of compaction through amendment. The advantage of using a spade fork is that (by pulling back slightly after reaching depth) it creates an oblong hole opening like a funnel that makes working the peat moss into the hole much easier as well as deeper into the soil for better wicking. In addition, the spade fork does have a compaction alleviation component. The ability to reach 5-6" depth helps break up any hard-pan that might exist. Also the slight pulling back once it is at depth will heave the soil in front of the fork, creating fractures in the soil. Finally the ability to reach deeper into the soil may reveal some surprises (it did for me) like rocks, construction debris or a buried cement pad.
I used and recommended peat moss for a couple of reasons. Unlike other products, like most composts, it is a homogeneous material. When bone dry, as it should be if the supplier stored it inside, it's almost powder like which makes it easy to spread and work into the holes. It resists compaction (it "springs" back to its original volume as moisture content reduces and the compacting force is removed- compost does not have that characteristic). Although hydrophobic, once wet it holds a large amount of moisture. It's an extremely stable OM, it will remain in the soil for a number of years. sphagnum can possess a CEC of 100-200 meq and creates both a low resistance medium for root growth and a nutrient sink.
Last edited by Ridgerunner on Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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jessehurlburt
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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by jessehurlburt » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:13 am

Ridgerunner wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:53 am
I am surprised to see the recommendation of a spade over a core aerator. It seems like the spade would poke holes but also while further compacting the surrounding soil. I guess the strategy is simply, get something other than sand and silt down in the ground to help with absorption/soil structure?
You will only want to apply the bare minimum amount of water needed for the screw driver or aerator tine to reach depth, but where the plug will fall apart under gentile poking. Finding this balance will take some experimentation, trial and error. You may need to wait 2 or three days after watering for the soil to reach the necessary moisture content. Too much moisture would certainly be counter productive and could promote some further compaction.
Power or manual aerators will only core down 3-3 1/2" which is good for reducing compaction in the root zone for most turf grasses, but as you surmised, the primary objective here isn't aeration as it is to improve the soil and reduce the effects of compaction through amendment. The advantage of using a spade fork is that (by pulling back slightly after reaching depth) it creates an oblong hole opening like a funnel that makes working the peat moss into the hole much easier as well as deeper into the soil for better wicking. In addition, the spade fork does have a compaction alleviation component. The ability to reach 5-6" depth helps break up any hard-pan that might exist. Also the slight pulling back once it is at depth will heave the soil in front of the fork, creating fractures in the soil. Finally the ability to reach deeper into the soil may reveal some surprises (it did for me) like rocks, construction debris or a buried cement pad.
I used and recommended peat moss for a couple of reasons. Unlike other products, like most composts, it is a homogeneous material. When bone dry, as it should be if the supplier stored it inside, it's almost powder like which makes it easy to spread and work into the holes. It resists compaction (it "springs" back to its original volume as moisture content reduces and the compacting force is removed- compost does not have that characteristic). Although hydrophobic, once wet it holds a large amount of moisture. It's an extremely stable OM, it will remain in the soil for a number of years. sphagnum can possess a CEC of 100-200 meq and creates both a low resistance medium for root growth and a nutrient sink.
Another amazingly detailed reply. I really appreciate your time and sharing your experiences. I'm going to grab a spade fork and some peat moss and get to work soon. :D

Ridgerunner
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Re: Jesse's 2018 Restoration

Post by Ridgerunner » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:51 am

Do keep in mind that that is still only my experience and my opinion. If you end up preferring using the hand aerator (and/or compost), it'll do. A spade fork is always a good tool to have in the shed though. ;)
Whatever you end up doing, please post with the progress.

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