Answer: The solution to thatch is to aerate the thatched area by poking holes into it. But how you poke those holes is the question.
A core or plug lawn aerator actually pulls plugs out of the lawn. Pieces of your lawn are removed so that a direct open link is made between the surface air and the nutritious soil below.
Spike lawn aeration stabs the compacted lawn without removing any of it. But if your lawn thatch problem is serious, you can hardly guarantee that soil, air, water, and grass will find each other just because you've put a spike through the knotted roots; that doesn't necessarily mean aeration.
With plugs, you know that the grass roots are going to reconnect with the soil. Spiking will only work if the aeration problem is extremely small or localized. But in that case a garden fork should easily suffice to break open the thatch just enough to get lawn aeration.
I'd go with the plug aerator and leave the plugs on the lawn. They will decompose with rainwater or water from the sprinkler and the soil will work its way into the holes where the plugs used to reside.
Best wishes with your lawn!
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