I lust over one of these:

towed aerator

This is the kind of aerator that is towed behind a lawn tractor, with some cinder blocks or other weights on the ledge to help the tines dig in. So far, I have not been able to justify the expense for something that will spend 364.5 days per year stuffed in the back of the shed. I rented one once, but the rental place near me no longer offers one.

In the mean time I have these:

aerator sandals

These are sandals with nail-like protrusions on the bottom that strap over your shoes. I've used these each of the last couple years across my small suburban yard. I am finding I have the following challenges with these sandals:

  1. Keeping them on. Even when I bear down on the straps as hard as I can, they still seem to slip off every fourth step or so. I can usually wiggle my shoe back into place, but sometimes I have to sit down and re-strap them. Walking duck-toed seems to reduce the problem, but see item #4.
  2. Keeping my balance. The first time I tried these, I stumbled a few times. I then added a hiking staff and it helped a lot. Like with #1, walking duck-toed helps at the expense of #4.
  3. Ensuring good coverage. I take short steps and follow a zig-zag path across the yard, using things like trees, fence posts, and the corners of structures as landmarks to keep in line. However, there is still a fair distance between steps, and probably between each zig and zag, that does not get covered. I know I don't need to puncture every single inch, but I wonder if I am getting enough.
  4. After effects. I am just old enough to have entered the wonderful world of arthritis. For three or four days after my latest foray with these sandals- taking high steps and walking duck-toed the whole time- my poor hips and knees were screaming at me. Even though I only needed about 90 minutes to criss-cross my quarter-acre, that was enough to keep the makers of Naproxen in business for a while longer.

Has anyone else experienced similar issues? How have you adapted and overcome?

  • Are those the actual sandals you've got? The strap pattern on them is horrible -- it looks like it was designed by someone who saw sandals in a picture once, and then designed them from memory.
    – Mark
    May 4 '17 at 21:09
  • @Mark - Not the exact same make and model as mine, but close enough to give a representation for purposes of this question, I'd say 85% or more the same. Note that there are multiple slots for the straps that allow different ways to position the straps, and I have chosen to rig mine quite different from what is shown.
    – cobaltduck
    May 5 '17 at 12:26

Yep, been there, done that, never forgotten it - first I twisted my ankle, then I fell over two or three times, and once I'd got to grips with how to move with them on, calf and knee and hip pain for a week, not to mention causing great hilarity at the doctor's surgery when I went for more pain relief. The neighbours were vastly entertained too...

Seriously, if you've got arthritis, donate these to anyone who's prepared to take them away, unless you plan on walking up a glacier any time soon, for which they'd likely be quite useful. Instead, get out your garden fork, insert the tines vertically into the lawn, pull it out again at the same angle, and repeat about nine inches apart over the area. If the arthritis has reached your shoulders and you've a large lawn, I recommend you pace yourself and do it in stages. The fork method isn't perfect, better with a hollow tine one, but its better than nothing. Either that or buy/hire a rolling lawn aerator, shown here (Lawn Aerators, Sandals & Spikers) though I'm not sure how easy to use and effective they are - I stick to the fork method.

  • They are very very easy to use and rented along with friends and neighbors downright cheap. Once per year is all that is necessary. I watched this video in a seminar once that showed the difference and it was pretty amazing the difference in the soil structure...
    – stormy
    May 4 '17 at 17:06

Well, I kinda hate to ruin all your fun and lusting. Aerating with tines is actually not aerating. When tines are pushed into the lawn they actually push the soil particles closer together, compacting the soil tighter than it was. The only effective way to aerate sod is by pulling plugs, cores out of the bed with an aerator made specifically just for that. The cores are left right where they fall onto the top of the grass to be allowed to disintegrate back into the lawn. This also brings bacteria up from beneath to help decompose any thatch. The soil then expands or relaxes filling the cored holes and the entire soil bed gets more air and the compaction is greatly lessened.

Arthritis is a major bummer. I got it pretty bad myself. I take Extra Strength Curamin and it actually WORKS. Keep on moving!!!

  • ooh lucky you - many of us can't take anything like curamin because of other medications, specially blood thinners.
    – Bamboo
    May 4 '17 at 16:37
  • Really? I remember an awful experience while on warfarin when I got hungry for a big plate of cooked spinach. I forgot to read the little flyer about eating dark green vegetables...oooppps. Very yucky. I ate the entire plate and then...is that what happens with tumeric as well?
    – stormy
    May 4 '17 at 17:02
  • Most herbal things are banned because the tests for interactions haven't been carried out - they know St. John's wort interacts, ginger and fish oils increase the thinning effect, but the rest they don't know, unless someone haemorrhages from taking something herbal at the same time. That's how cranberry juice ended up on the banned list - a woman died taking it on warfarin. Your spinach hit would have meant reduced thinning, so thicker blood, not thinner.
    – Bamboo
    May 4 '17 at 17:25
  • Exactly, vitamin K big time...one drug trying to thin the blood the spinach trying to thicken. I didn't know cranberry juice was a thickener. Ginger and fish oil would work in conjunction not as an antagonist. (pssst, why are you on blood thinners? Later in chat or not...). Wasn't it interesting that when my body said I needed a bit hit of spinach that it knew my blood was too thin? I eat what I crave. Forget chocolate, icecream. I know that isn't something I really crave for body, just for soothing and love...grins! It was only vitamin K rich foods...I thought that was a no-no.
    – stormy
    May 4 '17 at 18:06
  • cranberry juice is an efficient thinner, not a thickener, when taken in conjunction with warfarin...
    – Bamboo
    May 4 '17 at 18:41

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