Tilling vs aeration?

Recently I had to use Roundup in a very big area of my yard in order to get rid of crabgrass (I needed to do it early enough before the cold weather so I can seed the area now). I have read somewhere that after killing the crabgrass is important to till the soil to get rid of the roots. But some people have mentioned that if I aerate several times that will be enough to prepare the soil for seeding tall fescue. This is my first lawn and obviously my experience is limited. I will appreciate any thoughts you may have. Thanks!
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John, I don't know what zone your in, but in the Midwest our crabgrass roots die in January so there is no need to dig them up. The real problem is that the seed heads will distribute in Sept. and Oct. and that is what will cause you the grief next spring. I know that Roundup does a good job killing the plant but if the seed head has already been set, I doubt that the chemical will sterilize the seed. Tilling the soil is good because it will bury the seed deep into the ground where they are unlikely to reach soil level. Grass seeds generally aren't viable if buried below 3/4". I prefer tilling rather than aerating for preparation of soil. But handling a big rototiller is a lot harder than it looks.

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I agree with what John said. Before you till, put the appropriate amounts of lime, fertilizer, etc on top so it is mixed in. In the spring, put down a good lawy fertilizer, and preemergent weed control.
John Caldwell wrote:

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I wouldn't recommend tilling the soil. This is a lot of extra work for no benefit. Crabgrass is an annual plant. You've killed the existing plants. Rent a slice seeder to establish the new grass. Don't know what zone you're in, but for most parts, you need to do this ASAP, as it's getting late and is past the prime window.
In the spring before temps get into the mid 70s, apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control to the entire lawn which will prevent the problem from recurring.
BTW, there are products that will selectively kill crabgrass without killing desirable grasses. Unless the crabgrass had really killed the desirable grass, this is a better approach. Also, this late in the season, I would have just let the crabgrass die out on its own.
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In the long term, tilling will always be the better way to go versus aerating, slit seeding, or thatching. There is no comparison.
There is no reason to till the roots of crabgrass, especially after you have applied Roundup. -- Baine

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wrote:

'Till yer done!
: )
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for turfgrass?
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Try to work the soil as deep as possible. Most small tillers are good for 4"-6" depth which is fine. Be sure to work your lime and fertilizer in. -- Baine
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such deep tilled soil, and what fertilizer should I till in?
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After you spend all that time tilling to create a nice loose homogenous soil mix, you should firm it back up by grading, pulverizing, leveling, and then use a cultipacker or roller so that when you walk over you leave only a 1/4" depth track.
In the absence of soil test results apply 10-15 lbs of 10.10.10 and 50-75 lbs of dolomitic lime per 1000 sq ft.. Be sure to apply wheat straw at about 2 bales per 1000 sq ft.. Water lightly but frequently for 10-14 days then as needed. Followup in about 6 weeks with a high nitrogen turf grade fertilizer at 1 lb actual N per 1000 sq ft.
-- Baine
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If you till, you will have to rake out all the clumps of dead grass and probably re-grade the yard. It's a LOT of work. If you have anything other than a very small yard I would recommend slit-seeding fescue now and then applying pre-emergent a in the spring before the billons of crabgrass seeds can germinate.
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If you can, it is well worth it to turn in a soil sample and wait 10 days for the results, check out <http://agronomy.agr.state.nc.us/ . I turned in a soil sample last spring. We were ready to work a bunch of lime into our soil, b/c our area is notorious for acidity. It is a good thing we didn't put down lime, the soil sample came back and it turns out our soil is alkaline! The service is free, and the division will tell you how much and what nutrients your soil needs.
We have fescue germinating right now. My DH over seeded the bare spots in our yard and I very carefully spread a 1/4 inch of top soil over most of the spots (I ran out of soil and did not do this to a few spots) I spread the top soil by hand to prevent the seeds from being pushed around. It was tedious, but I think it really helped. The spots where I did not spread top soil have not shown signs of germination. We applied fertilizer while seeding.
Good luck! Heidi Raleigh, NC
John F wrote:

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