Aerification for warm season lawns
Now is the time for core aerification of our warm season grasses. This is the year for aerification.
Core aerification is a cultivation process that opens the soil, allowing moisture and air into the root zone of turf grass. Timed correctly, aerification can stimulate rhizomes to initiate growth, causing the grass to grow sooner.
To stimulate growth and achieve surface coverage as early as possible, core aerification in late April through mid-May will likely benefit many lawns that suffered through multiple droughtinduced dormancy periods last summer and fall.
Core aerification could also help centipede grass and St. Augustine grass, which do not have rhizomes. While the practice would not stimulate shoot growth from rhizomes that these species do not have, aerification relieves compaction that generally stimulates rooting and promotes deeper roots that pull water and nutrients from a greater soil volume. The result of aerification is an increase in growth and a healthier plant.
There are two types of aerification: hollow and solid tine. With the hollow aerification, a soil core is removed. With solid tine aerification, a hole is created and no core is removed. In both types of aerification, a void in the soil is created that allows air and water to more deeply penetrate the root zone.
With either technique, the deeper the aerification holes the better. Cores usually are 3 to 4 inches in depth and a half-inch in diameter. The surrounding soil relaxes back into the void, opening pore space in the surrounding soil. This contributes to an overall improved air exchange and better water infiltration within the soil. Grass will have less vigor this spring because of last summer. Avoid applying nitrogen fertilizer to warm-season grasses until soil temperatures at the 4-inch depth are above
650 F and rising. Now is a good time to do a soil sample. Contact Polk County Extension office at 770-749-2142 or email at [email protected] to submit a soil sample to the UGA Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Lab.
Clint Waltz, Cooperative Extension turf specialist with UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences provided information for this article.