Lawn aeration is useful for lawns with heavy thatch buildup. Thatch consists of dead stolons (creeping stems) and roots, which accumulate on the soil surface. Aeration benefits compacted lawn soils as well. Virginia Cooperative Extension lists heavy traffic from playing, sports and vehicles as contributors to lawn soil compaction. Aerating the soil increases water infiltration and nutrient and moisture uptake. Rooting is improved with aeration, and fertilizer and pesticide run-off is reduced.
Core aerators mechanically remove plugs of soil from the lawn. Core aerators relieve soil compaction by removing sections of soil and thatch, which improves water and air movement. The core plugs are left on the lawn surface and decompose. Landscaping professionals may provide core aeration services or you can use rental equipment to do the work.
Lawn Aerator Shoes
Lawn aerator shoes are simply sandals with long spikes, worn over shoes while walking around the lawn. Aerator shoes may provide limited aeration, but will not help with thatch removal because they merely poke holes in the soil without removing any soil or thatch.
Other Spike Aerators
Other spike aerators include drum-style aerators, push aerators or tractor wheel aerators. Drum-style aerators are tractor attachments that are pulled behind and roll over the lawn surface while penetrating the soil. Push aerators work similarly, but are pushed like a rotor-style manual mower. Tractor wheel aerators are spiked wheel braces that attach to the rear wheels of garden tractors. These devices aerate the lawn while the grass is mowed.