Using Spike Aerator On Centipede

Centipede core aerator

Q: I had some work done in my yard in September. Knowing it was too late to plant centipede seed, I broadcast wheat straw. I’ll wait until May, go over the yard very well with a borrowed spike aerator, and broadcast centipede seed and fertilizer. Does that seem okay? 

A: Your timing is good but using a spike aerator won’t help your lawn and may even hurt it. Unlike core (plug) aerators, spike aerators tend to compact the soil because they just push the soil out of the way as they pass over. One turf researcher found that a core aerator increased deep rooting and water extraction by 25 percent. The spike aerator showed no effects on grass health. Golf courses sometimes use spike aerators but they do so because their soils are usually sand-based and the spikes break through the water-repelling black layer under the sand. When a core aerator passes over a lawn, it pulls up thousands of soil plugs. The holes left behind have rough sides and their large interior surface makes lots of places for air and water to penetrate. In summary, lawn stabbing is not the same as lawn aeration.

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