Why Do We Always Aerate When The Greens Are Perfect?
By Elliott L. Dowling, agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region August 20, 2014
|Core aeration is critical to long-term health
and performance of turf. Timing core aeration is also critical. Performing
aeration when grass is at peak health will encourage quick recovery and
minimize playing surface disruption.|
Many golf courses throughout the Mid-Atlantic
region consider mid-August an indicator that aeration is upon us. Depending on
location, desired turf species and golf calendar, core and solid-tine aeration
may already be taking place.
One question we often receive is: “Why
does our superintendent aerate when course conditions and weather are perfect?”
This question is very perceptive, and explains why aeration is performed when
the weather and course are best. Weather plays a large role in turf recovery.
Thus, performing aeration when the weather favors turf growth leads to quicker
recovery. Additionally, aeration is stressful on plants. Performing aeration on
healthy, “perfect” turf is critical. If aeration is conducted on already
stressed turf, the result could be disastrous.
The range of ideal weather varies
depending on the desired turf species. In other words, if your course is promoting
bentgrass, mid-August to early September is a good time to aerate. The warm
days and cool nights of early fall favor bentgrass growth, placing the
competitive advantage on bentgrass over Poa
annua. Conversely, if the desired turf is Poa annua, core aeration can be performed later in the fall. There
is less chance for stress on Poa annua
in late summer and early fall. Unfortunately, the golf schedule often dictates
aeration timing more than the weather which could compromise proper aeration
Another question we often receive is:
“Why is so much sand applied?” Superintendents realize aeration is never
popular. However, the benefits of aeration far outweigh the potential problems
if nothing is done. Superintendents also understand that playability is a
concern. Following aeration, especially on greens, filling each of the aeration
holes with sand will promote quicker recovery and improve ball roll. There is
no denying that surface disruption occurs during aeration and that greens will
play differently following aeration. However, effects on playability as a
result of aeration can be minimized if aeration channels are completely filled
with sand. Ultimately, applying enough topdressing sand to fill aeration holes
will result in a smoother post-aeration surface that recovers quicker than a
surface with open aeration holes.
Aeration is performed every year to
improve turf health and playing conditions. Core and deep-tine aeration are
critical for the health of highly maintained grass. Keep in mind that every
time you comment on the exceptional conditions during the golf season, a large
part of maintaining those conditions is routine core aeration. Do not lose
sight of the long-term goal because of the short-term inconvenience.
Elliott Dowling firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service
Contact the Green Section Staff