Landscaping enthusiasts know that aeration of the soil is critical to its health. Aeration is the process of breaking up compressed soil to allow oxygen into the soil. Increased oxygen results in healthier plants and lawns.
What Can Be Used to Aerate?
The two main types of aeration are physical and chemical.
Chemical aeration is the process of applying liquid to the soil that is fortified with chemicals that will increase the soil’s permeability.
The most common ingredient in liquid aerators is ammonium lauryl sulfate. Ammonium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant. It works by decreasing the surface tension between particles. This helps dissolve built up oils in the soil that could be causing it to compact. It provides the same function when it’s applied as shampoo in your hair. The surfactant decreases the surface tension between the dirt and oil in your hair, allowing it to be washed away by water.
Physical aeration can be done by using a spiked instrument to poke holes into the ground, or by using a coring instrument to remove plugs from the earth. You can attach a large, spiked roller to the back of a mower or tractor for large areas.
For smaller areas, you can find T-shaped aerator tools that resemble a pogo stick. They can be used to extract plugs or spike holes into the ground based on their design.
Lawn aerator shoes are a condensed version of a spiked aerator.
Do They Work?
Lawn aerator shoes accomplish the job they were created to do. They effectively create holes in grassy areas. They offer an effective and convenient solution for those who cannot afford or don’t have the storage for bulky equipment.
Lawn Aerator Shoes
Making spiked shoes for every shoe size wouldn’t be very cost-effective for the lawn care industry. Instead, they’ve devised a spiked platform with two to three adjustable straps on top. You place your shoed foot on the flat side of the platform. Then, you fasten the straps over your shoe. Repeat this process with the other shoed foot. Now, you’ve got on-the-go aerators attached to your feet.
Before testing out your new shoes, you’ll need to ensure your lawn is well saturated. Water your lawn with one inch of water the day before aerating.
When Is the Best Time to Use Aerator Shoes?
Spring and fall are the best seasons of the year to aerate your lawn. These are the periods when grasses experience the most growth, fall for cool season grasses and spring for warm season grasses. Aerating during the growing season not only produces a better yield, but it ensures the grass is healthy enough to recover from any damage that may be done while aerating.
With your lawn well-hydrated in its unique growing season, you can now aerate with your lawn aerator shoes.
How to Aerate Using Shoes
Begin by firmly stepping onto the lawn. You should feel the spikes sink into the earth with ease. If the spikes don’t enter the soil easily, shift your weight onto one foot and apply that pressure downward. If the spikes still don’t enter, you’ll need to water your lawn again. Apply another inch of water and wait several hours before spiking the ground again.
If you stomp down and your spikes immediately sink into the earth, your lawn is either too wet or doesn’t need aeration at all. This problem can occur with sand-based soils that already have an excellent drainage rate.
Once you achieve a smooth sinking into the soil, you can proceed to firmly step along the length of your lawn. You want your soil to be aerated evenly, so you should walk heel-toe-heel-toe. This process could be time-consuming if your lawn is large.
Heavily compacted areas should be aerated twice. These areas can include walkways, near the base and drip lines of trees, and places where cars or mowers may park. To aerate an area twice with your lawn aerator shoes, you’ll need to observe where your previous spike holes are. Then, place your spikes in an intermittent fashion with the other holes. This should result in holes that are tightly grouped and even.
Downsides of Lawn Aerator Shoes
The downside of lawn aerator shoes is that their spikes are solid. These solid points push soil aside as they enter its space. This can create compacting between the spiked areas. As the earth is pushed away, it invades another area, and the matter there solidifies as it is pressed together.
Compaction could also occur if you’re pressing your shoe’s spikes too far into the ground, resulting in the platform making contact with the soil. As your weight presses down on that platform, the non-spiked areas get compacted from overhead, and the surrounding soil is pushed into the holes, reversing the aeration you’ve accomplished.
The spikes on the bottom of your lawn aerator shoes may not be as long as the tines on a non-coring aerator tool. If your spikes are only producing shallow holes, you won’t see as much benefit as you would if the holes were three to four inches deep. The very top layer of your soil experiences plenty of oxygen, water, and nutrient exchange. Aeration serves the layers deeper in the soil as well as your plant’s roots.
More Effective Tools Than Lawn Aerator Shoes
The most effective physical aerator tool is a plug aerator. This aerating tool works by you driving it into the ground. As it enters the soil, it carves out a cylindrical portion of it. When the tool is extracted from the soil, the cut out portion stays with it. The result is an even hole in the ground with surrounding soil that is not compacted by the weight of the tool.
A core aerator isn’t an efficient way to aerate areas of grand square footage. If the area is larger than a quarter of an acre and needs to be completely aerated in a timely manner, the recommendation is to use a spiked roller attached to the rear of a lawn mower or tractor.
If you have the time and the willpower, a core aerator is the best option to supply more oxygen and micronutrients to your soil. When you don’t have the means to store tools or the strength to operate them, try a liquid aerator first.
A liquid aerator follows the same maintenance schedule as physical aeration. This chemical should be applied during the grass’s growing season. A common low cost way to chemically aerate the soil is to shampoo your lawn. You can use four ounces of baby shampoo per one thousand square feet. Mix the baby shampoo in a hose end sprayer, and apply evenly to your lawn.
How to Use a Core Aerator
To prepare for aeration, you’ll need to mow your lawn. Shearing your grass down to an acceptable height will be less matter in the way for your tool. After mowing, rake away any excess lawn clippings.
If necessary, dethatch your lawn using a dethatching rake or similar tool. Removing the buildup of excess organic material will also be beneficial for the soil.
Finally, water your lawn wholly. If your lawn begins to experience ponding, adjust your sprinkler or turn it off. You do not want any low lying areas to have excess water. Extremely damp soil will turn into mud and clog the core of your aerating tool.
The next day, you’ll put your aerator to work. Wear work gloves or garden gloves to give yourself a better grip. Begin by firmly thrusting the aerator tool into the soil. If the tool does not enter the soil, it may be too dry. Water your lawn for a second time, and repeat the trial in a few hours.
After entering the earth, slowly pull the tool out from the ground. The plug should fall to either side of the tool unless it has a release mechanism. If it does contain a release mechanism, pull the release lever or push the button.
You can leave the soil plugs where they lie, or you can collect them in a bucket or wheelbarrow.
Repeat this process throughout your lawn. Each square foot should contain about 20 holes. If your aerator’s plugs are especially wide, you can reduce that number to 10.
Once your entire lawn has been sporadically cored, you can break up the soil plugs. If you left them where they were extracted, you can agitate them with a rake until they crumble. If you collected the plugs as you went along, you can combine the plugs with compost. Add your desired amount of compost, breaking up the soil plugs with your hands on your mixing tool, mix the two well, and then spread evenly throughout your lawn. The layer you apply to the lawn should be no more than half of an inch thick. This will add important micronutrients back into your lawn. Now that your soil is freshly aerated, it will receive and transmit these micronutrients marginally easier.
In Summary – Do Lawn Aerator Shoes Work?
Aeration is an essential part of lawn care. On average, lawns should be aerated biannually. You can increase the frequency if you have heavily compacted areas in your lawn.
No matter how often you choose to aerate your lawn, lawn mower aerator shoes provide a convenient and storage friendly solution to soil compaction. At the price of convenience, you may not see as great of results as you would using a core aerator.