Relieve soil compaction to improve turf health
The ideal soil for plant growth contains approximately 50 percent solids and 25 percent each of water and air. However, this is rarely the case with our heavy clay soils as they become compacted over time from traffic, mowing, etc. The effect of soil compaction is a reduction of pore space for oxygen, water and nutrients to move into the soil. As a result roots become shallow and less numerous therefore weakening the turf.
Aerification is a practical way to relieve compaction with specially designed turf cultivation equipment. Often this equipment can be rented from equipment rental stores or larger nursery centers. The most often used is a “core aerifier” which has many hollow tubes attached to an engine powered shaft that plunges these tubes into the soil to a depth of three or more inches at a spacing of about two inches apart.
As each tube enters the soil the tube fills with dirt. And at every successive time it enters the soil the previous core of soil is discharged on the soil surface. The result is numerous openings in the top few inches of soil to allow water, nutrients, and oxygen to enter. If this is done in late spring through mid-summer when the turf is actively growing, the roots will quickly grow and push soil to these openings improving the solid to pore space ratio.
Published June 9, 2008
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org