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I operate an equipment rental delivery service in the Portland, Oregon area. It's that time of year again when DIY homeowners are renting these items together.

Aerator (core aerator) De-thatcher (Power Rake) Overseeder (AKA Slit Seeder)

We rent them together as a lawn renovation package. Yep, that's a link to our website.

Anyway, each time we deliver these items, we are asked to suggest the correct order for their use.

My traditional thinking has been to aerate first then de-thatch (more like de-moss here in Portland) so that the de-thatcher will break up the plugs while it's also lifting thatch and moss. Finally, after removing all the moss and thatch, use the overseeder. This will leave the seed undisturbed so it can germinate.

Does anyone else have a justifiable opinion for using these machines in a different order?

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I always dethatch first. That will create a clearer path for the other equipment, and make it a lot easier for the slicer overseeder.

As for the other two, I like to run the aerator first, to avoid disturbing newly sown seed. It can be done either way, and both ways I've noticed seed falling into the aerator holes, where it will not germinate. That doesn't seem to be a huge issue though, in my experience. It's more of an issue when you broadcast overseed. A slicer overseeder usually takes care of all the plugs, as long as they're dry.

Really, though, that's just my method, not necessarily the best one. Once you get a system going you tend to stick with it. Dethatching comes first for me also because I don't have a dethatcher, so I rent one and use it before I use the other equipment (which I own).

So basically I've been using a slightly different order than you, and if it's been working well for you also, that just goes to show that there isn't really a 'best' way. Do what's logical, use common sense, it will work fine.

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I do think it's best to understand each function. I don't necessarily think this "lawn renovation package" is an ideal marketing tactic. In some cases, it could be necessary to use all three, but the fact that you have a marketed package seems to insinuate that someone is getting a deal or some benefit to having all three. I think this is rarely the case. I like to think of a dethatcher as a way to introduce oxygen to the surface of existing mature grass. It can also get in to the soil slightly to fluff it up without disturbing the existing grass and this can be a perfect time to overseed (without the need for an overseeder machine, but a broadcast spreader). Plug core aeration is loosening soil and getting oxygen down to the deep roots of the grass. All three have their benefits, but I don't think offering them in a package like this is the way to go, but rather to educate your customers on each ones specific use.

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  1. power rake then fertilize (same day).
  2. wait two weeks, then aerate and seed (same day).
  3. rake the seed and plugs (alternate east/west each row)
  4. make sure there are no remaining soil plugs or holes before beginning to water.
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Every lawn will be different. Aerating is always good, de-thatching is not. Do you recognize when de-thatching is necessary and helpful? I feel that a good landscape maintenance professional should know how to PREVENT compaction, thatch and general whimpy grasses. Mowing height, watering schedule, fertilization type and schedule...can prevent any need for literally damaging the existing grass and starting anew. Only de-thatch if there is at least an inch of non-decomposed grass and roots inhibiting water, nutrients. Aerate once per year, better to do two. Fertilize with organic, extended release fertilizers in the appropriate formulations for your type of grasses and season. Water deeply and allow to dry out before watering again. In our northern areas, grasses should be cut no shorter than 3". Some fertilizers actually come with bacteria that will help decompose thatch. Sharp blades, always. Use a proper spreader for fertilizer, never by hand...soil plugs break down all by themselves and don't need any help. Great for the lawn.

To de-thatch regularly is contraindicated...

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