Healthy to the core
Proper aeration can breathe new life into turf.
Proper aeration can breathe new life into turf.
Soil compaction and thatch buildup are two of the biggest obstacles you face as you care for turf. Just walking or driving across turf to mow it can compact the soil. And thatch is going to build up simply as a matter of the nature of some turfgrasses. Under these conditions, water, air and fertilizer can't get through to the turfgrass roots, which then suffer. The result: Patches of your turfgrass may begin to die; runoff increases and dry spots appear. The solution: aeration.
Core aeration is a great way to improve the quality of your turf, and it's important to make it part of your regular turf-maintenance plan. It pulls plugs out of the soil, letting in the water and oxygen that turf requires. The benefits of core aeration include improved water penetration and decreased runoff; increased fertilizer movement to the root zone; promotion of root development; and increased oxygen intake by the soil.
Aerators are available in a variety of types and sizes, and, as is the case with any type of equipment, you should evaluate your needs in order to select the best one for your business.
Before selecting an aerator, you should determine the size and placement of tines. If you want to remove a lot of material from the soil (to remedy heavy compaction), you should choose an aerator with large-diameter tines that are close together. Some aerators are equipped with interchangeable tines, which is appealing if you have a varying degree of compaction or thatch problems on your properties. Also look for aerators with adjustable spacing, which allows you to customize one aerator to fit a variety of needs.
Push or pull
While pull-behind aerators can generally cover more square feet per hour, walk-behind aerators are sometimes more practical for landscape contractors who need equipment to fit through gates and maneuver around trees and flower beds. If you plan on using an aerator on your larger, commercial accounts, a larger aerator can save you a lot of time. However, if you need to use one in a client's backyard, you'd be better off sacrificing a little time by using a narrower unit that fits through the gate.
Whichever you choose, look for versatility. Manufacturers are making aerators that you can adjust to fit all your needs. Find out exactly what those are, then make your selection.
Who: BlueBird International
What: TA10 towable aerator
Description: Designed for aerating larger commercial areas, the TA10 can aerate up to 3 acres per hour. Tip wheels allow it to pass through narrow openings, and open access to the hand crank makes it easy to raise and lower tines. Optional weight containers help maximize soil penetration. The TA10 provides 36 inches of aeration width and up to 3 inches of core depth.
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Who: Classen Manufacturing, Inc.
What: TA-25D aerator
Description: The TA-25D “split-drive” aerator offers user-friendly controls on the main handle, allowing you to steer and aerate around corners and trees without raising tines. Because all the tines propel the machine, it offers deeper penetration. Other features include a 4.0-hp Honda engine, removable weight bar, front poly drum and protective chain guard. It also can fit through a 36-inch gate.
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Who: Encore Manufacturing Co., Inc.
What: Power-Plug aerator
Description: This aerator has no add-on weights or water drums. Instead, its aerating tines are driven with machine action similar to an engine crankshaft, each revolution driving the tines into the ground. The weight that makes aerators difficult to handle is gone, giving the Power-Plug maneuverability, even on sloped areas and around landscaped curves. It has a 30-inch aerating width. The ⅝-inch diameter tines are adjustable to approximately 2.75-inches deep. Tines disengage with a hand lever to skip over sprinkler heads and sidewalks without slowing down.
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Description: Compatible with Grasshopper Model 618 and all 700 and 900 series True ZeroTurn outfront power units, the AERA-vator is PTO-driven and available in 40- and 60-inch models. It requires no irrigation prior to operation. Oscillating, forged steel tines penetrate and fracture soil.
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Who: John Deere
Description: With an 80-inch coring swath, this tractor-mounted attachment increases productivity without sacrificing hole quality. It can produce holes up to 4 inches deep, and can cover 100,066 square feet per hour. Choose from a 2.4-inch or 3.2-inch pattern, depending on the speed of movement. The aerator also features a patented “Flexi-Link” design that ensures tines stay perpendicular to the ground to make a consistently round hole. The high-speed tine rams push into the turf and then pull out quickly, leaving little or no scuffing at the top of the hole.
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What: Hooker aerator
Description: Designed for use on zero-turn radius mowers, the Hooker aerator is 38 inches wide and can aerate 66,000 square feet per hour at a speed of 5 mph. It makes 6 holes per square foot, up to 3 inches deep, and dispenses loose plugs of soil. Six independent floating heads caster 360 degrees while aerating. It attaches to the JRCO mount bar with two clevis pins.
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Who: PlanetAir Turf Products, LLC
What: PlanetAir aerator
Description: The aerator's patented “planetary motion” fractures the soil, relieving hardpan without glazing the hole. The tine design penetrates up to 4 inches while only pulling a plug at the surface. Its aerating width is 48 inches and pattern is straight rows with holes spaced 2 to 5 inches apart.
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Who: Redexim Charterhouse
Description: This aerator can be coupled to any compact tractor that is 18 hp or greater, and is designed to aerate fine turf areas to a maximum depth of 5 inches. It offers five different tine options, including hollow tines and needles tines producing more than 1,000 holes per square yard. It is constructed with the two main structural plates extending forward to mount directly on the tractor's 3-point linkage. These plates take all the major loads within the machine.
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Who: Rock Solid
What: PL600 Plugr
Description: The Rock Solid Plugr has plugging power generated by a camshaft design and engine, driving tines deep into soil even in tough soil conditions. Because it relies on power, not weight, it has a low weight-to-aeration-width ratio with no add-on weights or water-filled drums. It can make 90-degree turns, maneuver along landscape curves, backup under overhanging trees and manage steep hills. Commercial models have a 30-inch aerating width, and feature tines that are machined from solid high-carbon steel bar.
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What: Lawnaire 28
Description: The reciprocating, crankshaft-mounted tines produce precise, vertical coring. Self-propelled, with zero-turn-radius maneuverability, the Lawnaire 28 has a 28-inch aerating width and covers up to 24,000 square feet per hour. Its 7.5-hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine conforms to current Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board emission guidelines.
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Who: Steiner Turf Equipment Inc.
Description: This front-mount quick-attach implement removes soil cores up to 3.5 inches while making minimum surface disturbance. It features a support stand for storage, replaceable tines and four 50-pound suitcase weights (more can be added). Tine disks spin independently, allowing aeration while turning. It makes 3.6 holes per square foot.
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Who: The Toro Co.
What: ProCore aerators
Description: Toro's ProCore aerators range in width from 39 to 79 inches. All feature RotaLink centering mechanisms that provide precision tine arm control for smoother operation and truer holes, with small or large tines. They are also equipped with interchangeable tines. Three side spacings are available (1.2 inch, 2.4 inch and 3.2 inch) for versatility. Tine depth may be adjusted up to 4 inches deep with no tools required.
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Who: Turfco Manufacturing, Inc.
What: Aerator Pro 26
Description: The Turfco Aerator Pro 26 weight system has been reconfigured to improve maneuverability and tine penetration while reducing operator fatigue. The 28-pound weight formerly located in the front of the Pro 26 has been removed and replaced by two 15-pound weights that are located directly over the axle to improve balance and general operation. Welded to the one-piece frame, the new weight system reduces vibration noise.
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Who: Woods Equipment Company
What: Gill aerator
Description: This professional-grade plugger has a reinforced frame, 1.25-inch diameter shaft and independently acting gangs of spoon wheels. Available in 48-, 60- and 72-inch widths, the Gill aerator will fit category one tractors up to 35 hp.
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