How to DIY: Lawn Aerator Shoes.

March 25, 2020

This blog, sigh, I’ve always intended and wanted it to be a respite.  I’ve had conversations with Mike several times, ya know, should I….do I mention….and he’s right, be a reprieve, a place of escape for a moment.

I shall continue that so please don’t be offended if I evade mention of the current state of affairs around us.  This choice is not coming from a place of irreverence, lalala ear muffs, dismissal or willful ignorance.  We all need comfort, a slice of normalcy here and there, some form of healthy distraction, otherwise we’ll go nuts.

Ok?  Ok.

So tying in with my December/January rampage clean up and clean out and goal to use up supplies I had on hand, I decided to make some DIY lawn aerator shoes.

Hahahahahahaaaaa, whaaat?!

Heh, I know, you’re laughing hysterically at me like "dude, for real, you can just buy these* ya dolt.  Why would you….why."  

(Ya shoulda seen Mike's face when I told him what I was making, his reaction was priceless.)

lawn aerator shoe yard aerating aerate
"Mommy, what doin'?"  Always always my Trusty Furry Assistant.
See, this all came about because I purchased some creeping red fescue grass seed* for our front yard.  Mike doesn’t always get to mowing in a timely fashion and with the tree tossing shade around like it’s the twenty-teen’s, right, that’s when throwing shade was popular?, growing grass and keeping it looking presentable has been, mmmm, challenging.

lawn seed yard curb appeal
This was a couple years ago but the grass situation is always the same.  Sad.
And as we are well aware thanks to HGTV, curb appeal is everything.  Regardless, I like things to look nice for us.

So I bought the seed see, bought a bag of milogranite fertilizer* as I read that creeping red fescue enjoys it immensely.

Too, I had long been pondering how to aerate the front and as websites do these days, Amazon must've read my mind, ergo proffering up these goofy shoes.  The soil is surely way super compacted out front but lawn services are expensive.

Then bam, it hit me, doh Becky, hahaha, get inventive and use up more of your wood stash!  While cleaning things out, I came across a box of big nails so hey, why not?!

aerator shoe supplies wood nail
Plywood.  Nails.  Let's do this.
hahaha, I know.  I hope you’re getting a good chuckle out of the raging frugality going on here.

But I have an ulterior motive here too.  Since we’re all ya know, home more, reason for that I’m skimming over, I figured ideas on how to use up materials you already have to keep busy might be welcome.

And a good giggle.

To take a quick sad veer, sorry, since our parkway tree was horribly murdered by the city (ok that's a little overly dramatic yet still truthful), I returned the grass seed as now we have a mostly sunny front yard, no longer a mostly shady one.  Major big sigh on the tree.

Ok.  Homemade lawn aerator shoes.  

So I had some I dunno, 3/8" plywood already zipped up into strips so I sliced four pieces about the length of my foot.
measuring foot shoes wood cut
I felt like a kid at the shoe store.
Just to make them uber fancy and maybe easier to use as I'm winging this all the way as I go here folks, I lopped the corners off at forty five degree angles in the toe area.

plywood angle cut wood diy project
Whooaaa, fancy corners.
hahaha, ok, next step was to figure out the nails.  I was limited by the type and remaining amount of nails I already had which were 8-D 2 1/2" hot dipped galvanized* so I divided them up then spaced them out on two of the wood soles, going with four rows, three nails wide.

Thanks, Dad, for the combination square!*  Got it all cleaned up like new!
You can surely use just about any nail here, though a type that is long and wide is what's important.

Nail layout complete.  I did not do math.  Much.  Just generally made it up to fit.
Next I dug up a drill bit* that was juuust under the width of the nails and zipped pilot holes through.

Drillin' them pilot holes.  Makes pounding the nails in sooo much easier.
Ah!, wait, before the fun begins....sandwich the piece that won't get nails with the piece getting nails and pilot drill holes for assembly screws.  Don't go through the piece that will be getting nails, just partway in.  It's not the end of the world if you go completely through though.

Key here is to pilot these holes where the straps will be.  Ah, see?  That'll keep the straps immobilized.  Think ahead, yah, I am indeed tapping my temple with my finger.

Bang bang bang, ok, pound the nails through.  Make sure you've got some good earplugs* or something, heh, it's loud.

nail galvanized hole aerate shoe
Bang!  Good agression-getter-outter.
Heh.  Yes, these look like some kind of cruel and unusual torture device.
Since my original choice of straps sadly wasn't going to pan out, I snapped my rule and ordered up a roll of nylon strap that came with buckles n' crap,* spent nine bucks.  Ah well.  That's still less than buying these aerating shoes, so, winning!

aerate shoe nylon strap roll buckle

To kinda figure out how long to cut these straps,* lay the un-nailed piece on the floor over a length of uncut strap, put your foot on it, pull the strap over your feetie, and kinda gauge from there, leaving a good length extra to tighten.  

Hot tip:  literally, ha....use a lighter or lit match to singe seal the ends of the nylon strap after you cut it so it doesn't fray and unravel.  A mere couple of seconds waved over the flame will do the trick.

There were no instructions, or I blew past them or didn't see any or ignored them if there were which I shouldn't have, as it took an inordinate amount of time to figure out how to wind the strap through the gizmos and such.  Eventually I got it though, felt like a bozo.

aerator shoe nylon strap buckle threading
That's how you do it.
Next, sandwich the un-nailed piece atop the nailed piece with a piece of strap in between and under where you pilot drilled holes for your assembly screws, and zip a couple appropriately lengthed screws through the top, through the strap, and into the nailed board.

strap nylon assemble screw pilot hole
Yep, screw through the top, right through the nylon strap, and into the bottom piece.
The strap will likely wiggle and twist but with some finagling, you'll get it, promise.

And you're done!  Yeah!  hahaha, goofy, yeah?

I love these water-resistant slip-on winter shoes,* fyi (link is a lil' out of season in March). They have zero support but I have zero problem with that.
I sorta sealed the undersides and edges up with some of that board butter which I shoulda done before slamming nails through but eh, this is how we learn.  Seal them as you see fit or don't, up to you.

Yeaaahhh, shoulda sealed up the plywood first, yeahhh, nails are sharp.
Carry these buggers outside, hahaha, don't wear them through the house or whomever you live with will rip your head off.  Drop one on the ground and tack yourself in.

I found that two straps just going over my foot didn't work for me, the straps loosened and my foot came out far too easily so I crisscrossed the straps.  That helped but wasn't perfect.
aerate shoe strap crossed
While the crisscross was more secure, there are surely better strappy ways about this, I'm sure.
Since these aren't glued together or anything, merely held by screws, feel free to add another strap or whatever you need to do to make these stay on more securely.

Then walk!  hahaha, you're gonna feel totally ridiculous and the neighbors are gonna think you've really lost your marbles now, but so what, you'll have a nicely aerated lawn for cheap and they won't!  

Make sure you do this when the soil isn't super soaked otherwise the nails might get gummed up with mud as mine did while taking these photos.

There ya go!  DIY lawn aerating shoes!

grass aerate shoe diy lawn
Ohh emm geee, it's almost like my first video!
A bonus extra hilarious bit here is you could make these kid-sized and get the kids out doing this productive task for you!  I mean, obviously keep an eye on them so they don't injure themselves or get in a stabbing kick fight as that would definitely be quite bad, but you see where my intentions lie.  Safety first!

Hopefully up next is more on the master bathroom shower saga!

*The lawn aerator shoes, creeping red fescue grass seed, milogranite fertilizer, hot dipped galvanized nails, combination squares, drill bits, earplugs/hearing protection, nylon strap with buckles, nylon strap, and winter water-resistant slip-on shoes are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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