Fall Seeding: Aeration vs Slice Seeding
Early fall is a great time to incorporate grass seed into your fields and lawns. The stable temperatures, wet weather, and balanced light cycles are the trifecta for seedling germination. Depending on your program and field usage, aeration and overseeding or slice seeding may be better options. We want to discuss the pros and cons of each cultural practice to help you make the absolute best decision for your Organic Turf Care program.
Aeration & Overseeding: Aerate! Aerate! Aerate! One of our favorite cultural practices here at PJC Organic and one that is often not incorporated enough. There are tons of immediate and long-term benefits of core aeration and is integral to any program. PJC recommends a minimum of 1 core aeration per year timed in late summer or early fall on residential lawns and passive recreation areas – athletic fields and high traffic areas require more.
- Alleviates compaction
- Creates pore space for oxygen and water to get into the root zone
- Provides opportunity to get seed and PJC ProHealthy Turf Products directly into the root profile
- Labor intensive
- Timing is critical – soil can’t be too wet or too dry
- Can create a muddy playing surface if being used on an athletic field midseason
Slice Seeding: Probably the fastest and most effective method of seeding into a lawn or field. Slice seeding utilizes a machine that cuts furrows into the soil surface and deposits seed directly into the slit. Be sure to slice seed in at least two directions to get a fuller growing stand and avoid ‘crop rows’ of grass.
- Higher germination rate from direct seed to soil contact
- Discrete way to seed midseason without potential for muddy surface
- Uniform distribution of seed creates fuller stands of turf
- Minimum disruption to the soil profile
- Does not alleviate compaction or create opportunity for fertilizer applications
- Slice seeders are expensive and may not fit every budget
- Not ideal for well-established turf stands
At PJC Organic, we generally recommend a 50/50 Kentucky Blue/Perennial Rye Grass Mix this time of year for athletic fields and 70/20/10 Turf Type Tall Fescue/KB/Rye for residential lawns and passive recreation areas. As it gets later in the season a 100% Perennial Tri Rye for quick cover and germination can be a fit.
The fall window for seeding is short and we don’t recommend putting any seed down after October 15th – you are better off waiting for the heart of winter for a dormant seeding. We love to see a large variety of turf grasses in our stands for resiliency and diversity. There is a lot of different research to suggest field playability with certain varieties – however, we assume 10-12 months for full establishment. Our recommended seeding cycles follow when the turf grass is going to perform best – Rye Grass in the Spring, Turf Type Tall Fescue in the Late Summer, and Kentucky Blue in the Fall. To learn more on some of our recommended varieties check out our Late Summer blog on grass seed.
For the Next Generation…
Seeding is an integral cultural practice in an Organic Turf Care program. Grass seed helps with weed management, turf stand density and field playability. Whether you elect to aerate and overseed or seed slice – understand that it is only as effective as the seed variety you select to use. Accordingly, seeding is a year over year investment and is integral to any program. Over time your turf will become so dense and vigorous that you will be glad you made the front-end investment. Reach out to discuss how best to incorporate either practice into your Organic Turf Care program.
Did You Know?
Light cycles play an important role in turf grass growth. Red light waves are required for grass seeds to germinate and increase plant biomass. Blue light waves increase turf stand density and increase root growth. The fall equinox marks the actual balance of daylight to nighttime hours. Therefore, this time often has the most balanced output of red light and blue light during the daytime light cycles. The balance of red and blue waves creates conditions that are optimal for existing turf grass stands and seed germination and establishment. We first see this come into better balance in Mid-August – in line with our first late summer aeration.