Lawn care help (Chicago)!

I know this is about gardens, but seems to be the closest usenet group where I may find some expertise about lawns. Specifically:
(1) What is the best way to "dethatch" and "aerate" a small lawn manually?
(2) When is the best time to apply organic weed-preventers like Corn Gluten Meal? Before or after dethatching/aerating?
(3) Simialry, do I overseed a few weeks before or after applying Corn Gluten Meal?
This is in Chicago. Thanks for any advice.
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heavy duty rake & lots of spare time

after
after
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On Fri, 24 Sep 2010 08:40:36 -0500, Newbie

Scarify with a spring tine rake, aerate with a garden fork.

I have no idea what that is, but do the manual work on the lawn before applying any products.

I would say read the Corn Gluten Meal packet, it may tell you.

This is Buckingham. No problem (^_^)
Steven
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: Scarify with a spring tine rake, aerate with a garden fork.
Thanks! A little extra clarification -
1. I thought a rake is to *collect* things like leaves that are already loose. Will a rake, even metal one, actually *cut* the thatch, which is what I think will be needed?
2. In aerating with fork, do I just punch holes in the ground, or do I have to actually turn the soil over?
Just trying to be careful and not do more harm than good.
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A heavy duty garden rake only has heavy tines about 3" long. (You are probably thinking of a leaf rake, which has light tines a foot or more in length.) The heavy rake is used to move soil and mulch around, dethatch, etc. There are probably a dozen tines on the thing, so it is long and low. Dethatching is a fairly easy chore with a heavy rake.
The fork, which can be used to aerate, would be used by just punching holes about 1" into the ground. This job would be long and exhausting. I have about 1/4 acre and will only aerate if I can rent the machine - heavy clay soil is a pure *itch to aerate manually.

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Easy... sheesh, you've never dethatched manually or you are built like the Hulk. For a small lawn a thatch rake will work but so will you.

A regular garden rake or leaf rake is useless for thatch. A 1/4 acre is too much area to dethatch manually too. But you can try it, happy aches and pains, and blisters: (Amazon.com product link shortened)
I had one of those hanging in my garage for 30 years, after using it once never again... rent a machine or a migrant worker.
Anyway where to begin with the OP's lawn depends on many factors such as soil condition and how poor a condition overall... I strongly suspect it might be more advantageous in all respects to till and begin from scratch.... by the time someone asks about their fercockta lawn at a newsgroup it means their lawn is a disaster and they've exhausted all other sources because those recommendations cost money and the poster is actually looking for a miracal that's economically free, labor free, and results in world class golf course turf.
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wrote: : (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Thanks. Came across another one - more expensive than above but of course not more than powered equipment -
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
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An aerator actually pulls plugs of soil out of the ground. The lawn fork, or pitchfork will poke holes, which will actually compact the soil. This would be bad in a clay type soil, maybe OK in a sandy soil, which probably would not need aerating anyway. When I lived in the city, my neighbors and I would get together and rent the machine for a day. It was pretty easy to do 4-6 lawns in a day, and splitting the costs made it economical.
Dethatching is to break up the roots of the grass that are matted on the surface, not the grass clipping stuff your mulching mower leaves behind. Not normally needed on relatively new lawns.
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