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Core Aeration vs. Spike Aerators

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BCarlson, May 24, 2009.

  1. BCarlson

    BCarlson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    Can anyone let me know what the pro's and con's are of each. I am looking into equipment for the fall. Alot of customers don't like the core aerators where cores left on the ground. A few years back I kind of recall an aerator that would also pick up the cores and mulch them and nicely lay it back on the ground. The main soil composition here is clay. I was thinking where it is clay that with a spike aerator I could use it in the fall spring and also in the summer with out having to reseed. Any comments or advice would be appreciated.
  2. 1998tahoe

    1998tahoe LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    I have never used a core aereator but I have a 5 ft pull type spike aereator and love it.
  3. big acres

    big acres LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    No offense, but you need to learn how to educate your customers. It is good that you are learning his yourself first.

    Spike aerators are cheap and minimally effective towards what selling aeration is supposed to accomplish...

    A. Break down thatch layer allowing nutrients to the soil.
    B. Reduce soil compaction.

    Core method removes a "plug" of several layers of decomposing matter containing enzymes which when deposited on the lawn break down the thatch layer.

    It leaves larger "voids" deep in the soil, which allows for compacted soil to "loosen" and fill these voids.

    The spike or tine method may kick up a little dirt, but really is only poking holes in the soil which is NOT reducing density and hardly turning those enzymes loose to do their thing.

    The fact that you are talking clay soil also means extra soil compaction... one big reason for a core aerator. I have heard that years of core aerating thatch and topsoil on clay can improve the overall qaulity as well as drainage.

    Sorry if I might offend owners of spike aerators, but if the customer is educated they will choose the core method.
  4. EGL&L

    EGL&L LawnSite Member
    Posts: 124

    Nice explanation from BigAcres...to expand a bit...prolonged use of spike aerators will also create a "hard pan" at the point where the spike ends in the soil.
    To achieve maximum aeration benefits, try selling sand topdressing as well. This will fill that core channel with sand, allowing roots to grow deeper, providing better drainage, smoother surfaces, and helping the plant to better withstand periods of drought.

  5. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,444

    Spike aerators are good for only one thing and thats seeding or over seeding.

    Why do you think golf courses are core aerated????

    Next time a customer balks at core aerating ask them if they've ever seen a golf course and how lush the grass is.
  6. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,583

    Top dress with compost for optimum results.
  7. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Platinum Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 4,223

    Or for aerating in the heat of summer when core aeration is stressful. Many courses use spike aeration in summer.
  8. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,121

    If your going to spike aerate, it must be done at regular intervals to be effective. Once or twice a year and your not accomplishing anything. Golf courses use spike aeration because a golfball does not roll easily over cores. Core aeration may be a little stressful to the lawn, but not by very much.

    My local gold course spike aerates about every 2 weeks.
  9. 1993lx172

    1993lx172 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,305

    Spike aerators are a waste of time and money. Core aerators are the only way to go. They lessen soil compaction and promote better root growth. Spike aerators are cheaper but they increase soil compaction and don't really accomplish much.
  10. BCarlson

    BCarlson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    That's what I am getting at. Problem is here bought soil is still clay just with the rocks screened out. Compost is full of sticks and debri not all that great. I thought a few years back I saw of a core aerator that dumped the cores into a bin mulched them up then laid it back down on top of the soil. Putting sand on top of the soil, I thought of that and heard of it, but read an article from a university study that said that with clay soil it can compact the soil even more so. So maybe with the clay soil do a core areation and overseeding in early fall then start in the spring and every 2 months spike aerate then do another core areation in the fall again then repeat the next year. I've just come across too many lawns that were thatched and aerated last year only to have thatch proplems this year. But again too many people mulch year round when only between mid June and mid September the average daily temperature supports mulching.

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