Originally Posted by fishinpa
GO with a core aerator. If your lawn is really thin, you may want to rent one in the fall. Never forget the adage "nature re-seeds itself in the fall". The rented units are great for getting into tight areas, and I used one the first 2 years in this house. Be sure to use whichever one in 2 or 3 directions.
Don't forget soil amendments after core aeration, where necessary.
Around here in SW Ohio, heavy compacted clay is the norm.
So, a really wise thing to do in this particular situation is to broadcast liberal amounts of coarse sand
immediately after the cores 'dry down' on the lawn a little, so that the soil doesn't tend to stick to the spreader tires.
Post-aeration is also the ideal time for finished compost application, but that's another forum altogether...