A: Your timing is good,— but using a spike aerator won’t help your lawn and may even hurt it. The goal of aeration is to encourage grass roots to grow deeply. Unlike core (plug) aerators, spike aerators tend to compact the soil because they just push the soil out of the way as they pass over. One turf researcher found that a core aerator increased deep rooting and water extraction by 25%. The spike aerator showed no effects on grass health. Golf courses sometimes use spike aerators, but they do so because their soils are usually sand-based and the spikes break through the water-repelling black layer under the sand. When a core aerator passes over a lawn, it pulls up thousands of soil plugs. The holes left behind have rough sides and their large interior surface makes lots of places for air and water to penetrate. There should be at least 10 holes per square foot of lawn area to accomplish an effective aeration. In summary, lawn stabbing is not the same as lawn aeration.
Q: My neighbor refers to sweetgum trees as “widow makers” because seemingly healthy branches can suddenly fall and kill an unsuspecting guy walking underneath. Have you heard this term before, and is it reserved for sweetgum trees? Chuck Rigdon, Lithia Springs