|Spiked Sandals for Aerating Your Lawn|
Q: Is there an inexpensive way to aerate my lawn?
Hardiness zone: 9b
Pattibc777 from Houston, TX
Aerating your lawn is a great way to revitalize hard, compact soil, prevent thatch from building up and encourage the growth of grass (while discouraging the growth of weeds). I've seen steel-spiked sandals advertised that strap on over your shoes and allow you to walk around the lawn and aerate it while mowing. These are usually priced around $12.99 or so, but with a little ingenuity (and an updated tetanus shot) you could also probably make your own (think strap-on wood blocks with 1 1/2 inch roofing nails). The idea is to punch holes about 1 1/2 inches deep over every few inches in your lawn. This allows air, nutrients and moisture to reach the root zone more easily. If you don't like the idea of tromping around in spiked sandals, you can use a pitchfork instead. Just make sure to wiggle the tines around a bit after punching them into the soil to make the holes bigger.
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If it's not a very big lawn, you can do it for free with a garden fork. Work systematically in rows, up and down the lawn, pushing the fork down about halfway and wiggling it forward, backward and side to side while its in the ground. Very therapeutic :)
I've also seen strap on shoes with spikes in garden mail order catalogs, or you could make your own with some left over wood and four inch nails I suppose! (05/21/2006)
I bought some of those strap on things, didn't work worth a darn! (05/21/2006)
I rented a pull-behind aerator (the good kind, the one that makes cores) for about 35 dollars for the day. A neighbor saw me working, and asked if he could share the rental, and paid us 20 dollars for sharing. There would have been time for yet another neighbor or two on the rental, and our yards are about an acre. All you need is a riding mower to pull it.
So my suggestion is to talk to several of your neighbors about sharing a rental, then calling around to find the best rate. You can get the pull behind (cheaper) or the powered kind. If you get one of these kinds that actually pull cores, it does an excellent job. (Of course, your lawn looks like a herd of small dogs on laxatives ran across. But it is really good for it.) (05/21/2006)
I read in a garden book that the best time to aerate your lawn is in the morning after you've watered it or after a heavy rain. Golf spikes are the simplest form of aerators and you can wear them when you mow the grass.
After you've poked holes in the soil, put some sifted peat moss, dried manure, or compost in a broadcast spreader, and apply a layer about 1/4 inch thick to the whole area. (05/22/2006)
Golf spikes are probably excellent in some soils; but I suspect in South Texas gumbo they would not: 1. Penetrate deeply enough, and 2. The holes would close right back up because no material has been removed.
Yes, the soil should be damp (but not drenched) when you aerate. Putting down the peat moss, manure or compost sounds like a great idea!
In Houston, sand might also be good. I am in PA now; but I sure do miss Houston! Big sigh. (05/23/2006)
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