How to Build a Lawn Aerator

Written by lauren vork
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The latest innovation in lawn aerators--putting them in shoe form--is simple to use and cuts down considerably on the time it takes to use a hand aerator. But why spend a lot of money on these sandals when you can make your own out of a pair of old shoes? This fun and simple project will put those beat-up sneakers to good use in helping your lawn grow thick and healthy.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Old tennis shoes (soles intact)
  • Roofing nails
  • Drill or leather awl
  • Epoxy (preferably quick-setting)
  • Thick shoe inserts (same size as shoes)

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  1. 1

    Remove the laces from the shoes. Pull out the tongue and stretch open the shoe, gaining access to the bottom sole.

  2. 2

    Drill or poke about seven or eight evenly spaced holes in the sole of the shoe, using either the leather awl or drill. If using the drill, choose a drill bit less wide than the roofing nails you've selected so that there is some friction to hold the nails in place. It may be easier to make these holes from the bottom of the sole, but don't place them too close to the edge of the shoe.

  3. 3

    Poke the roofing nails down through the sole of the shoe from the inside. The heads of the nails should rest on the bottom of the shoe (push them in all the way so they don't stick up). Use only roofing nails that are completely straight.

  4. 4

    Coat the inside bottom of the shoe with a layer of epoxy. This will help keep the nails from popping up against your feet as you use your aerator. Using a quickset epoxy is best for this because it will allow you to hold the shoes upright as it hardens.

  5. 5

    Allow the epoxy to dry fully. Test it for strength and add a second or third layer if needed; the nails should not move when pressed from the bottom.

  6. 6

    Place the shoe inserts inside the shoe. This will prevent injury if a nail head pops up in spite of the epoxy.

  7. 7

    Do not attempt to walk on any hard surfaces wearing these shoes, but try them on in a seated position from which you can step directly onto your lawn.

Tips and warnings

  • If you live in a dry climate or have hard soil, create shoes using shorter nails.
  • Aerating is easiest after rain or after the lawn has been watered.

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