the biggest thing i am going for is to get the yard more plush, lol some people call me nuts for wanting more grass to cut but it drives me nuts because my yard is patchy. i have a broadcast spreader and a roller but i want to get the seed in the ground and i am trying to figure out the best way. would i need to get a plug aerator, then plug, seed, fertilize then roll? i see these yards with thick plush grass, i don't let my grass get tall enough to reseed itself or should I? but i was wondering if one of these units was what i needed. maybe lol this needs to get moved to yard care?...
The experts discourage use of rollers except where a roller is absolutely needed to solve a specific problem. This is because a roller achieves its flattening effect by compacting the soil. But compacted soil impedes the growth of grass. So if your object is to help your grass to grow, rolling helps to achieve exactly the opposite effect. I think one of the only times a pro uses a roller is when they are seeding a freshly tilled and seeded lawn. Running the roller over the soil after the seed has been raked-in helps to achieve better soil to seed contact, which expedites initial germination and growth.
Compacted soil is what a core aerator is intended to fix. When you core aerate you are cutting (removing) cores out of the soil and depositing them on the top. These openings then allow moisture to get down to the roots better and they also make room for the soil to expand so that roots can grow more easily. A good yearly core aerating can also control thatch.
If you have real need to roll your yard to smooth out things like mole tunnels and winter earth heaving, then you should follow it with several passes with a core aerator to counter the compaction you just caused.
If you want your seed to grow, you absolutely have to get it on complete contact with the soil and keep it moist. You are correct that you need to get the seed "in the ground". You can get it in the ground by tilling the soil and raking it in. You can get it in the ground by using a slit seeder, which slices the earth and places the seed in the slit before it is closed up. You can spread the seed on the ground and rake fresh dirt over the top of it. Or, as some have figured out, you can core aerate really good, seed and fertilize and then rake or otherwise drag the yard to break up the cores and mix it with the seed. The core openings are also your friend as they provide a place for some of the seed to fall into.
I have never heard of anyone letting their yard go to seed just so they did not have to buy seed. Personnaly, I am not certain that I would want to let my yard look like heck for a year just so I did not have to purchase seed.
I have learned that the best time of all to core aerate and seed is late August into mid September. Last year I aerated the yard 6 times, seeded, fertilized and dragged the yard multiple directions during the week following labor day. By October grass was growing everywhere. By November I had mowed 3 times or more.
I know spring is approaching and you might be tempted to aerate. Me too! And I will. If you are in need of grass badly, go ahead and core aerate really good, seed and fertilize your troubled areas in mid-late March or very early April. This will get you going for the year. Thereafter, core aerate and seed in early September. You will get the most bang for your effort and $.
This spring, I will be core aerating the lawn in mid-late March early April. Then putting a pre-emergent down to keep the crabgrass at bay. And since I am putting a pre-emergent down I will have to wait to seed again till fall.
In the end, my recommendation to you is that if you are going to spend money to own an implement you can pull with your tractor to help with you lawn, purchase a core aerator. It will give you the most bang for your buck IMO since you already own a spreader.