Solid-tine aeration is a key component of many putting green management programs because aeration channels enhance gas exchange and water movement in the soil. But if your goal is to fill aeration holes with topdressing, should the sand be applied before or after aeration?
Many lean toward a fairly standard aeration process, using hollow tines before applying sand and working it into the holes with brushing. Unfortunately, the abrasion from multiple brushing operations can cause a great deal of turf stress, especially during hot weather.
However, you may find that aeration holes can be efficiently filled with less brushing if sand is applied before solid-tine aeration. Less brushing equates to less turf stress. Ideally, putting surfaces should be dry before sand is applied to facilitate incorporation. The sand too should be dry before aeration. Using kiln-dried sand will allow the aeration process to begin immediately following topdressing. If damp sand is used, it is best to apply it to the putting surface and let it dry before aeration.
Usually, brushing once after aeration will be enough to evenly distribute any sand that remains on the surface. Similar to hollow-tine aeration, it is likely that some touch-up topdressing will be necessary to ensure every hole has been filled with sand.
Any time an adjustment to the agronomic program results in improved efficiency and reduced turf stress, making the change is an easy decision. If solid-tine aeration is included in your turf management program, consider applying sand before aerating.
Central Region Agronomists:
Bob Vavrek, regional director – email@example.com
John Daniels, agronomist – firstname.lastname@example.org
Zach Nicoludis, agronomist – email@example.com