Do aerating shoes really work?

organic_martinoJuly 8, 2006

Has anyone had any positive experience using aerating shoes? (You know, the shoes with the 1-1/2" spikes on them). I live in a new subdivision (house is 1-1/2 years old) and the soil is mostly red clay with backfill sand on top that I think is pretty compact from construction. I want to finally go ahead and aerate my lawn and if the shoes work good I'd rather do that then pay for a rental machine or for someone else to do it. Appreciate any feedback.

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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

The only one I've ever seen praising them is that old snake oil salesman, Jerry Baker and also the countless garden catalogs that carry them.

Below is a link to someone's blog that discusses his attempts at using them. Scroll about a quarter way down the page to where he mentions aerating shoes. Try not to make the same mistake the author did. That is by walking while wearing them.

Driving spikes into already compacted soil creates even more compacted soil with little holes in it. I think most modern aerating machines actually remove thin plugs of soil from the ground rather than taking that same soil and ramming it laterally as spiking the ground would.

Wayne

Here is a link that might be useful: Blog entry

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 3:48PM
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trancegemini_wa(10b)

Ive never used them but to me it seems like a silly invention, I just have a few problems with the whole concept, like

1. the spikes are too short to do any good, by the time they get through the lawn to the soil below the spikes would hardly be going in to any depth.

2. the idea of walking, dancing, running across the lawn while aerating is a bad one, when I aerate the lawn I work backwards so that I dont compact the soil by walking over it, your bodyweight pushing down on them would compact the soil your supposed to be aerating

3. the whole idea sounds so tedious to me, Id rather use a garden fork and drive it in to a proper depth, rather than tramping back and forth on these shoes which would take more effort (and in my opinion do little) than just working a fork with my arms.

TG

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 10:02PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

All those spikes do is push the soil particles closer together while making the very small, very short holes that some people think pass for good aeration. What is needed is a machine that pulls a plug of soil about the size of you little finger out, or even better an adequate amount of organic matter.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 6:44AM
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kelp

I just got done reading the blog. Took quite a while, as I couldn't read through all the tears from laughing so hard. Thanks, Wayne.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 7:20AM
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gw:organic-kiki

Oh my gosh!That is so funny, I can just see it happening in my yard!
Kiki

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 12:20PM
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organic_martino

Thanks for all the input. I think I'll stay away from the shoes. If I decide to aerate, I think I will let a pro do it with one of those plug machines that are the reciprocating type. Those seem like they work best.

Just watched Italy win the World Cup! Viva Italia!!!!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 5:59PM
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brendi

I use aerating shoes and they do work in my opinion. I admit I did have to duct tape them to an old pair of shoes with the gray tape wrapped around and around the shoes quite a few times to keep them from coming loose and falling off..... now I just leave the shoes all taped up & the spiked shoes attached to them.

Also, I walked through some concrete-like soil while wearing them, and man..... did they really rip the soil up and loosen it like crazy...... just what I wanted so I could plant grass seed in that spot.

Just wondering how often one should aerate their lawn. Anyone know?

Brendi

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 7:11PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The single best way to aerate your soil is to add organic matter. The "aerating spikes" are not a good solution since the effect is temporary at best.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 7:24AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Brendi, core aeration is one of the single most beneficial things you can do for your lawn and tree beds. I repeat: CORE aeration. The use of little solid spikes causes compaction in the long run and should never be considered a beneficial practice. Golf courses have even begun to ban spikes on the shoes of golfers!

How often it should be done depends pretty much entirely upon the kind of soil you have and how it has been used/abused. I have hard, red clay soil. We have begin to aerate three times a year, but expect to be able to drop it back to twice. Core aeration increases water percolation and root development, resulting in a huge response in plant vigor, drought, heat, and cold tolerance.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:33PM
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jjfrisco(8a TX)

If you want a DIY solution that core aerates, try the Turf Hound (link below). You step on it and it pulls 2 plugs of dirt out. I wouldnt want to do 1/2 acre or anything, but I did my 3,000 sqft lawn in an afternoon. Ive seen them at both Lowes and Home Depot for around $20.
I think this year I even saw a knockoff brand at Lowes. I would imagine that it would work pretty much the same.

Here is a link that might be useful: Turf Hound

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 11:09PM
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gemanadams_aol_com

YES, they really work. Now keeping in mind, you wear the shoes or spikes when mowing the lawn. This is weekly aerating of your lawn. Very healthy for the roots of your lawn. It also gives your legs and calf muscles a good work out. i like them.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:39PM
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dtwnwa

The concept with the shoes is the holes they create allows the lawn to absorb fertilizer and it tightens the lawn. worked for my lawn

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

To properly aerate your soil you need to provide some means of air getting down into the top 4 to 6 inches of your soil and I have never seen "spike shoes" or "aerating shoes" with spikes that long. If your soil is so compacted that it needs aeration those needle point spikes are not going to provide enough opening to be beneficial enough to be worth the effort. Even at $10.00 a pair those things are largely a waste of your money, time, and energy.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 6:21AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Using a solid object to push "holes " into the soil only compresses the particles around that object. Soil actually needs to be removed for truly effective aeration to occur. The use of such spikes on a frequent, long term basis is not the least bit helpful to soil, plant roots, or soil biota. It doesn't matter if those spikes are 2 inches or 12 inches.

Core aeration is the only way to go. I've not looked at the little homeowner models so can't speak to their effectiveness. I'm not very hopeful that they would be powerful enough or have long enough hollow tines.

The frequency of core aeration depends upon the soil type and how the property is used, primarily. Under average use, a private yard shouldn't need it more than once per year, really, if that. We used to core frequently (3x/yr.) but no more. It just doesn't need it. We might rent an aerator every three years or so.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Under average use a private yard properly cared for with adequate amounts of organic matter in the soil will not need to be aerated, with a core aerator or those spiky sandels,

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 6:34AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It very much depends upon soil type, too. A dense clay soil (like mine) can benefit like crazy with frequent treatments. We top dress with bark fines and compost afterwards and now our soil is in much better shape.

But you're right....core aeration is not a requirement though it might be a benefit.

However, the topic under discussion is about those "aerating shoes ". And they are not of long term benefit....it's important that people understand the concept of compaction.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 8:07PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It very much depends upon soil type, too. A dense clay soil (like mine) can benefit like crazy with frequent treatments. We top dress with bark fines and compost afterwards and now our soil is in much better shape.

But you're right....core aeration is not a requirement though it might be a benefit.

However, the topic under discussion is about those "aerating shoes ". And they are not of long term benefit....it's important that people understand the concept of compaction.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 8:08PM
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