Q: Rather than contacting an aeration service to aerate our fescue lawn this fall, I was wondering your opinion of the “aeration shoes” sold by specialty stores/catalogs. Are they a substitute for core aeration?
A: I know the shoes are intriguing but they are useless. The spikes simply do not penetrate deeply enough nor are the holes they make wide enough to allow oxygen to penetrate the soil. Don’t waste your money. The spike aerators designed to be pulled behind a lawn tractor are little better than the aerator shoes. The best lawn aerator is a “hollow tine” or “core” aerator, which is motorized. A thoroughly aerated lawn has at least ten half-inch diameter holes made by the aerator per square foot.
Even so, University of Georgia turf specialist Clint Waltz says the effects of aeration last only a few weeks. The soil is not permanently improved. Aeration does, however, provide a good environment for fall-planted fescue seed. If your soil is hard clay, little will improve it except to dig it up and till in organic matter before planting your grass.