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Lawn Aerating Sandals: Don’t Waste Your Money

20170511AOn the list of unnecessary garden tools, the lawn aerating (or aeration) sandal (also called a lawn aerating shoe) is near the top. Theoretically, you put it on and walk all over your lawn. Since the underside is covered in sharp spikes that pierce the ground, which should then aerate the lawn, right?


First, let’s put aside the discussion about whether aerating turf really is really necessary… and, depending on your type of soil, it’s more often a waste of time than useful. (Hint: aerating a lawn is only effective if the soil is very dense and hard, probably clay, and even then, must be followed by topdressing with compost or a much lighter soil if you expect to change anything.)

Here, however, let’s just assume that your lawn really would benefit from a good aeration. If so, can a simple sandal replace a mechanical aerator?

Not a chance!

It Punches Without Aerating

Mechanical lawn aerators don’t just punch holes into the ground, they remove cores of soil.

Remember that a mechanical lawn aerator works by removing cores of soil. This leaves holes that air can penetrate so as to reach the roots of the lawn grass. An aerating sandal doesn’t remove soil cores: it only punches holes the ground, thus compacting the soil even further. The holes it makes pack the soil particles even more densely than before, leaving a smooth and impermeable perimeter. Thus they reduce air circulation to the roots.

Okay, there are now holes in the soil that contain a bit of air, but the roots can’t take advantage of them, compressed as they are by an overly dense soil.

Also, the damage caused to lawn grasses (which are living plants, after all) by punching multiple holes—thus perforating their roots, tearing into their crown and chopping up their rhizomes—can be considerable and the lawn will take a long time to recover from the wounds. (This is one of the reasons why lawn aeration remains a technique of questionable utility.)

Not So Easy to Use

20170511BAlso, walking on the lawn with these sandals is not like taking a simply stroll. First, you have to push your foot straight down, then straight up, sort of like a marionette, and that quickly becomes quite exhausting! And despite the various straps added to the sandal and its supposed “one size fits all” technology, they tend to either twist to the left or right as you walk or come undone. As a result, you often spend more time adjusting them than “aerating.”

Essentially, aerating sandals are totally useless, something you’d do best to sell off a garage sale with all the other ineffective items that you’ve accumulated over the years. I recommend saving your lawn-care budget for something that really can help your lawn grow better!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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