Time For Aerification

September 14, 2020 | By: Ryan Kopke


Aerification is a necessary practice that all turf managers must endure at some point in the growing season.

Core Aeration often occurs at the most inconvenient time on golf courses. With limited labor and maximum disruption to boot. However, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. Golfers will often say things like “these things are rolling so true, and you had to go and ruin them.” Or my personal favorite – “how much longer are they going to look like this?” What the golfers don’t see are the essential benefits occurring to the turf beneath the surface.

The Unseen Benefits:

  • rootzone modification
  • thatch management
  • improvement in the gas exchange
  • rootzone layering disruption
  • compaction relief

A solid regime of late spring and early fall coring is achieved when managers work in sync with their playing surfaces growing cycles.

Spring Aerification

In the spring, the plants are “waking up” and starting to actively grow. The soil temperatures are ideal for root development & growth, and very few events are disrupted. One has time to rebound during one of the most aggressive cultural practices.

From there, fertilization steps in to help in the healing process, supplying the plants with all the essential nutrients to recover. Using a water-soluble nitrogen source will be crucial to give the turf the extra “push” it needs to actively heal and grow.

Next up topdressing; a necessary evil in the business of developing premium quality playing surfaces. Using dry topdressing sand helps fill the holes as entirely as possible. Dragging or blowing to speed up drying will do more harm than good; just let it dry a bit longer- then drag or blow the sand around. Once the sand has been dragged or blown-in, time to roll the surfaces to ensure they are free from irregularities. This will give the golfers at least somewhat of a playable surface.

Finally, we can irrigate. Irrigation will help to work the sand into the holes and reduce drought stress from the dry topdressing sand, maintenance stressors, and temperature.

Fall Aerification

During the early fall, we push the repeat button. This time, the greens are rolling true and fast. Trees are showing traces of color and the plants are hitting their limits due to all the uncontrolled environmental factors. Luckily, we still have a few weeks to get them healed up before they get buried for the winter months. Golfers get temperamental during this one.

Surface disruption will always be unwelcome by golfers, regardless of where it’s performed. Effective communication with stakeholders is highly beneficial when planning your next aerification and essential to achieving the plants’ maximum potential.