It is well documented that aeration is a key task for any turf manager. It can take many different forms – from using a Verti-Drain; linear aerating with a Verti-Quake or indeed Verti-Coring. However, all have the same aim to allow air movement through the surface providing a healthy environment for the grass plant. Although it’s been said on many occasions, when it comes to effective aeration, timing is the key.
During the winter months, deep aeration to say 12 or 14” during any relatively dry periods will help to keep surfaces playable; draining and free from puddling. Thought should also be given to the top profile which may have become saturated and requires helps to rid itself of excess water. As soon as you can get a machine onto the surface, without causing issues, aeration should be conducted. Heading into spring, lighter Verti-Drains such as the 1513 or 1517 from Charterhouse, can be mounted behind a small compact tractor and deliver the results required to keep the surface free draining. It can also help to link up with the deeper aeration work done over the winter. Any holes will allow the plant to take advantage of available oxygen and nutrition which will help to deliver an improvement in overall sward vigour.
If a wet spring is on the cards, the linear aeration provided by the Redexim Verti-Quake is a good alternative. The rotary motion, combined with the forward speed sets up a wave action which helps decompaction to take place. However, it should be used with caution in dry conditions as slit lines can shrink and open up if the ground is too dry. Again, timing is essential.
For the drier conditions we’d expect as we head into summer, needle tines are the most effective way to keep the surface open, helping to maximise the effects of irrigation and nutritional programmes. Again, aerating at the right time will reduce costs associated with irrigation and feeding, maximising the utilisation of any rainfall, while creating minimal disruption to the surface.