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Comparing Spike and Core Lawn Aerators

Aeration is very important in keeping your lawn in good overall health. The benefits are explained in the ‘how to aerate with a core aerator’ article on this site. The choice between a spike or core aerator will be discussed in this specific piece. The aim is to show the benefits that each type brings and allow you to make a more informed decision.

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Aeration will yield a thick, healthy lawn

Spike Aerators

This type of lawn aerator is the simpler of the two in terms of its operational mechanism. As the name would suggest they ‘spike’ a hole in the ground to aerate the lawn.

Lawn Spike Aerator

A type of spike aerator

This gets the job done quickly and simply. However the results do not have as much longevity as when you are using a core aerator. The reason for this is that you are not actually removing any of the soil. You are simply forcing a hole to be created by inserting the spikes into the ground. This means that there is more inward pressure around the holes that are created. The soil that has been forced to the side to create the hole will naturally be forced back towards its original position over time.  

A good use for a spike aerator is prepping the lawn for overseeding.  Seed needs to be in contact with the soil for it to root.  For best results, run the spiker over your lawn multiple times prior to overseeding.  This is beneficial because it creates little pockets in the soil for the seed to fall into and you are essentially planting it through the existing lawn.  

Core Aerators

Core aerators physically remove a core of soil from the lawn grass. This type aerator is equipped hollow tines that sink into the soil and remove plugs.  This creates the same effect as a spike aerator except the holes are more open and stay for longer. The plugs of soil that are brought up simply fall onto the lawn’s surface and are usually left there to break down.  Physical removal of soil plugs loosens and mixes the soil, effectively cultivating the soil without wrecking the lawn.

Plugs from a core aerator

Plugs and holes left by a core aerator

These cores can either be actively cleared away after aeration or left to integrate back in naturally. It's best to leave the cores on the lawn but remove them if you prefer.  Just like using a spike aerator prior to re-seeding, the open ‘pockets’ that have been created using core aeration makes overseeding more effective. The hollow left by the aerator is an ideal environment for grass seed to thrive.

Which is Better?

Lawn Core Aerator

On a performance basis the core aerator will always win because plugging is better than spiking.  Aeration is one of the most important lawn maintenance practices so it is worth the investing in buying or hiring a core aerator and plug your lawn at least once a year.  

I rent my aerators from a local equipment rental store, I do not own one.  Check with your local Home Depot, they rent a variety of outdoor power tools.

For small areas, I've been using a Fiskars manual core aerator that I purchased from Amazon.  I've owned this tool for five years and it works great!  Read more about the Fiskars 9862 Core Aerator on Amazon.com.

The seed stitcher is an excellent tool for repairing small areas in in an existing lawn.  I recently purchased one and love it!

Available at Amazon:  EnRoot Products Seed Stitcher PRO

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