Leaves are turning, students are back at school and football schedules are starting. That means it’s time for fall aeration on cool-season grasses.

Although the benefits of core aeration aren’t always immediately visible, it’s one of the most important things you can do to manage compaction and maintain the health and playability of your sports fields. And fall is a popular time, because roots are actively growing.

Cultivation-Story-Images-1Core aeration relieves compaction, which helps improve the playing surface. It also allows water, air and nutrients to flow to plant roots for vigorous growth. As a result, plants require fewer nutrients and less water, and they’re better able to handle stresses — especially on school and university sports fields that see higher traffic in the fall.


If you’re planning to do core aeration, here are a few tips to help you maximize the benefits:

Timing matters. Core aeration is best completed when the turf is healthy and roots are actively growing. This helps ensure your turf will recover quickly. For cool-season grasses, spring and fall are the best times, when soil temperatures are consistently above 55˚F (the ideal range is about 60˚F to 65˚F).

Cultivation-Story-Images-2Preparation helps recovery. Beyond proper timing, there are a few additional steps you can take to help your turf recover as quickly as possible. About three to five days before aerating, consider fertilizing to stimulate turf growth. In addition, irrigating the field a few nights before aerating not only promotes healthy grass but also helps coring tines penetrate the soil more easily with less wear and tear on the turf. If you irrigate, aim for a volumetric soil water content of about 30 percent in the top few inches of the root zone.


Check your equipment. Worn or jagged coring tines can tear the turf and slow recovery. Check and test your equipment a week before aerating to make sure the timing is right and that your tines are making a sharp, clean vertical cut.

Toro Solutions

For aerating large areas, Toro’s tractor-mounted ProCore® 864 and 1298 aerators are a highly efficient choice. With an aeration swath of 64 or 98 inches respectively, these units deliver maximum productivity — along with smooth, quiet and powerful operation. Operators can keep the ProCore running in the raised position through turnarounds. The precision-balanced coring head allows the tines to enter the ground cleanly, and the RotoLink™ tine guide mechanism ensures tines remain vertical as they enter and exit the turf. Plus, both units are built for heavy-duty durability for long life and less downtime — even in the toughest conditions.

For more information about Toro® ProCore 864 and 1298 aerators, call your local Toro distributor or visit toro.com.