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Do Spike Lawn Aerators Do Anything?

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

If you search online for lawn aerators, you will find many opportunities to buy funny looking spike shoes that will supposedly help you save your lawn. Is this true? Does wearing boots that look a lot like dangerous golf shoes really help prevent thatch and encourage lawn aeration?

Lawns with heavy foot traffic or patches that don't drain easily need aeration. Without lawn aeration, grass roots tend to knot into each other instead of growing vertically into the soil. Due to the root's diminished contact with the soil's nutrients, lawn grass becomes vulnerable to predators like worms and insects as well as weeds like dandelions or crabgrass. A detailed description of thatching can be found here. (link to "What is Thatch" all bout lawn article)
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The solution to thatch is to aerate the thatched area by poking holes into it. But how you poke those holes is the question.

Spike Aerator Vs. Plug Aerator

A core or plug lawn aerator actually pulls plugs out of the lawn. Pieces of your lawn are removed so that a direct open link is made between the surface air and the nutritious soil below.

Lawn Stabbing Doesn't Mean Lawn Aeration

Spike lawn aeration stabs the compacted lawn without removing any of it. But if your lawn thatch problem is serious, you can hardly guarantee that soil, air, water, and grass will find each other just because you've put a spike through the knotted roots; that doesn't necessarily mean aeration.

With plugs, you know that the grass roots are going to reconnect with the soil. Spiking will only work if the aeration problem is extremely small or localized. But in that case a garden fork should easily suffice to break open the thatch just enough to get lawn aeration. Space-age boot aerators with nasty spikes seem hardly worth it.

About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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