Doesn’t it sounds great to make your lawn better by walking around in spiked shoes? Perforating the soil with small holes allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate and reach grass roots. This is something you need to be doing yearly especially if you have heavy traffic or silt clay soil in your lawn. But, do lawn aerator shoes work?
According to turf specialists, aerating shoes impact only a small area and doesn’t really work in reducing soil compaction. Instead, the spikes on the shoes push the soil on sides and downward which even compact it more especially the sticky clay or silt soil.
What are aerator shoes?
Lawn aerator shoes look like sandals with spikes attached. They have adjustable straps that hold the sole onto the bottom of your foot, regular shoes or boots. Aerator shoes are supposed to make perforations in your lawn to allow more water, air and nutrients to the grass roots.
To use the aerator shoes, one has to wear and strap them on the shoes and walk around the lawn numerous times. As the body weight exerts pressure on the shoes, the spikes are driven into the lawn, creating small holes when the foot is lifted.
Using aerator shoes is considered as one of the ways of aerating a lawn to reduce soil compaction or makes holes necessary for re-seeding. A lawn usually get compacted in areas with heavy foot traffic and also in clay or silt soil. The closely packed soil particles inhibits air, water and nutrients from reaching the grass roots.
Signs of compacted lawn soil include standing water in yard and unhealthy turf grass. While this can be attributed to other lawn problems, there is need to test for soil compaction. Simply push a screwdriver in the soil. Your soil is compacted if you can’t easily push the screwdriver into the soil.
Do Lawn Aerator Shoes Work?
Aerating shoes can be helpful in making several holes in the lawn necessary when re-seeding a lawn. However, they are not suitable for reducing soil compaction. This is because, they only impact a small area of the lawn and tend to push soil particles on sides between the spikes and downwards.
According to the University of Nebraska, aerator shoes will increase compaction for clay or silt soil but may work for lawns with sandy soil. Compacted soil affects a lawn quality, growth and health by decreasing the amount of air in the soil, water and nutrients infiltration to the grass roots.
There are possible benefits you get when using a lawn aerator shoes. They can be helpful during overseeding or application of fertilizer to a lawn. Using aerator shoes can also help in controlling lawn grubs without use of chemicals. The spikes actually kill the grubs as you walk around your lawn.
What to use for soil aeration
Soil aeration is an important lawn maintenance process that need to be done yearly in high traffic areas or heavy clay soil and every 2 to 3 years if you are having sandy soil. To get the best results, you need to use the right equipment or tools for the task.
Lawn aeration should be done using a plug or core aerator which use hollow tines to pulls out plugs of soil that are longer and wider. Core aerators perform a much better work in breaking up severely compacted soil to allow water air and nutrients to the grass roots.
The equipment work in a similar manner like a spike aerator but effectively lift the plug from the turf other than pushing the soil downward and sideways. The only concern is that, a core aerator will leave behind unsightly plugs of soil on the surface of the lawn.
You can rake or use a lawn mower to break up the plugs after they have dried out. These plugs are usually rich in soil microorganisms and its better if you leave them on your lawn for several days so that the microorganisms can act on the available thatch in your lawn.
When planning to aerate your lawn, water your lawn a day before. This will soften the soil for easier penetration of the aerator. Similarly, you should avoid aerating a lawn that is heavily soaked as this may clog the aerator with mud. When aerating, stay away from cables and utility lines in your yard.
You may need to go over your lawn twice when aerating heavily compacted soil. Once finished, you should thoroughly water your lawn. Some people will prefer to overseed or apply fertilizer after the aeration process. This will depend on the state of your lawn or they time of the year.
What is the best time to aerate a lawn?
Lawn aeration should be done the period when grass is actively growing. If you live in the north part of the US with cool season grasses like bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, then aerate your lawn in the early fall. This is when the grass is entering into active growth and will still have time to recover before frost.
If you reside in southern part of the United States with warm season grass like Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass and zoysiagrass, then Aerate your lawns in June and July, when the grass is actively growing. Do not aerate during drought or intense heat of summer.
There is a myth is that if you apply a pre-emergent herbicide on your lawn in the spring, aerating your lawn will destroy the herbicide or impair its weed control abilities. However, Briggs & Stratton explain that according to research, aeration will not affect crabgrass control or weed prevention measures in place.
Watering and fertilizing efforts will not bear any fruit if your lawn soil is compacted. You need to inspect and aerate your lawn for the water, nutrients and air to get to grass roots for proper growth. Lawn aeration shoes will not work on heavily compacted soil. Use a plug or core aerator for perfect results.