CORE AERATION is one of the “dirty” words of golf course maintenance. With a golf season of seven months, many would question the necessity of disrupting play each spring and fall.
An important purpose behind core aerification is the removal of unwanted organic matter, allowing roots to grow. With a healthier root system heading into the golf season, the grass plant is better able to withstand the stress of traffic. Aeration also relieves compaction, promotes air exchange and helps with water infiltration.
How much aerification is enough?
There is no rule of thumb for what percentage of surface area should be impacted each year. It would be safe to say however that it is difficult to “over aerify”. The USGA suggests that 15-20% of the surface should be aerified each year. This would dictate a larger hole size – and closer spacing between holes during the aerification process – both spring and fall. Changing from a 1/4” tine to a 1/2” tine increases the surface area impacted by four times. Using a 5/8” tine versus a 1/2” tine increases the surface area impacted by approximately 50%.
How long after aerification before the greens are back to normal?
With cooperative weather, the healing process will take 10 - 14 days. Extra fertilizer and water are applied at this time to expedite recovery.