Soil compaction makes it difficult for grass to develop long roots, disturbs the flow of natural rainwater and artificial irrigation, and blocks the oxygen needed by the root system to keep the grass healthy. Aerators are designed to create gaps and holes into the soil that allow these elements to easily reach the roots of your grass. So, if a lush, full lawn is what you desire, then you will need the best lawn aerators in 2023.
If you’re the kind of person who is invested in doing whatever it takes to achieve good lawn health, or you desire a perfect, jeweled, vibrantly green lawn; this list of the best lawn aerators for your garden contains all that you need. These aerators are easy to use, made with durable high-quality materials, and designed to provide excellent efficiency.
Aeration improves the health of your grass, allowing roots to grow deeper and stronger, and protects your landscape from disease and harsh weather. While lawn care techniques such as weed control, fertilization, and proper mowing are important for promoting fresh grass growth, aerating the lawn is one of the best things you can do for a healthier and more resilient lawn.
While it is a very important service, many lawn owners don’t know much about lawn aeration, aerators, or the benefits of aeration. If you fall in this category and you’re looking for a lawn aerator, this buying guide on the best lawn aerators is essential reading for you.
If you live in an area with heavy clay soil or your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic, your soil naturally compacts over time. This affects the ability of the grass to absorb oxygen and water it needs for respiration and can result in a patchy or unhealthy-looking lawn.
Lawn aeration reduces soil compaction and controls lawn thatch. Lawn thatch is an organic matter made up of dead grass and roots that collect at the base of the living grass on your lawn, making it difficult for water, oxygen, and other nutrients to get to the roots of your grass. Aeration causes root division, which rarely happens naturally. By causing roots to multiply, aeration multiples the number of grass blades overall. This keeps your lawn thick and deeply rooted as the holes become engorged with roots.
For more on why you should aerate your lawn, check out this video by Dirt Farmer Jay.
Before aerating, make sure you remove any obstacles present on your lawn and water it well. If you use sprinklers, be sure to mark all sprinkler heads as the aerator spikes or plugs can severely damage the sprinkler heads. Also, make sure you choose the aerator that’s right for your lawn.
Use your aerator to dig into the soil as you move over your lawn to remove plugs and create holes in the soil. The holes left behind will allow air, water, and nutrients to reach deep into the soil, promoting turf root growth and reducing soil compaction. Don’t worry about the plugs left on the ground, they will eventually decompose and provide additional nutrients for your lawn.
Within 48 hours after aeration, you should overseed, fertilize, and water your lawn. The overseed, fertilizer, and water have the best chance of getting down into the holes made by the aerator if applied shortly after aeration.
Before anything else, you should choose between a manual or a two-behind model. Manual aerators take longer to get the job done but offer more control. Spaces between tree roots and stomps can more easily be attended to. The tow-behind models usually require less energy to use and help you in areas where thatch often builds up. Estimate the overall square footage of your lawn and consider those tight corners and narrow park strips before you decide what’s best for you.
Tine length and build material are some other key features to look out for when choosing lawn aerators. Some spike lengths are shorter than others but ultimately, the length you choose will depend on your lawn. If you have a lawn with thick dirt areas and thatch buildup, you may want to go for aerators with longer spikes. As for the build materials, look out for aerators made of durable steel or dense corrugated aluminum.
Lawn aerators help strengthen the roots of your grass, allowing thicker growth during hotter seasons. Your lawn grows fuller with little to no dry patches of dirt.
Aerating just before seeding is a great way to ensure that the seeds enter the soil, and aerators can help you directly achieve that. If you plan to overseed after aeration, put those grass seeds into the holes made from removing plugs. This will ensure better use out of fertilizer and grass seed and establish stronger roots and, consequently, a fuller lawn.
Aerators decongest thatch buildup by mitigating the effect of debris on your lawn, thus, ensuring the grass receives the required oxygen, moisture, and nutrients needed to remain lush and green.
Finally, in the process of aerating, especially using core aerators, the plugs removed eventually decompose and provide surface nutrients for the soil.
The Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator rejuvenates old lawns with its 3.5 inches long grass plugs. This manual lawn plug aerator and dethatcher pierces deep into the compact soil and loosens it up to let air, water, and fertilizer down to the root zone. It also strengthens heat tolerance and drought in your turf. This device is built for a lifetime of use. If you have a small to medium lawn, we highly recommend it over renting a big machine for aeration.
We recommend that you water your lawn first before using this aerator especially if it hasn’t rained in weeks and you don’t use a sprinkler. You may also want to soak the coring tips in some water when you’re done using it for the day to prevent soil from drying out inside the tips and clogging things up.
The Agri-Fab Push Spike Aerator is a walk-behind spike lawn aerator with five galvanized spike disks that help to penetrate the soil easily and expose your grass to air, nutrients, and water. It has a steel weight tray that holds concrete blocks with a maximum capacity of about 16kg, and creates pressure to increase soil penetration. If you decide to get one of these, we advise that you wet your lawn before usage as it works better with damp soil.
Plug aerators use hollow tines to remove plugs of soil, leaving small gaps in the soil. This heavy-duty plug aerator by Gardzen is constructed with a high-quality steel frame and coated with a black powder finish for long-lasting durability. Keep in mind that this device is ideal for loosening the soil of small lawns or for problem areas in larger lawns to allow for air, water, and nutrients to reach the lawn’s root system.
The Step ‘N Tilt Lawn Aerator is faster and easier to use than other manual aerators. Simply step on the platform to drive aerator tines into the ground and tilt the handlebar backward to remove the tines from the ground. It makes core aeration easy and enjoyable for both DIYers and professional landscapers alike. The Step ‘N Tilt should be used in areas with grass only; tines will clog if used on bare soil.
Core lawn aerators require very moist soil for smooth operation, and this Step ‘N Tilt is no exception. We recommend that you aerate one day after at least one inch of rain or irrigation because it takes time for water to be absorbed into the soil, particularly clay soil. If you have a sprinkler system, each sprinkler zone will need to run for 60-90 minutes.
Whether you own a lawn or you run a lawn care business, the Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator is a must-have tool for you. This essential tool does not clog, is sturdy, and is designed to work on any soil type, helping you break up compacted soil and allowing proper aeration into the root zone.
Deeper aerification can be achieved using the foot bar of this aerator, creating soil cores as deep as your index finger even in hard clay or high traffic areas. Truly Holey is perfect for small problem turf areas such as diseased or dry spots. It will get into those tight corners, narrow park strips, as well as in between tree roots and stepping stones where a machine has no chance.
Whether your soil is sand, clay, or loam, these aerator shoes will work to help you maintain your picture-perfect lawn. The 2.1-inch spikes on these gardening boots dig in and reshape your lawn into a luscious green paradise. The Velcro straps on this product fasten with a hook and loop system, meaning you will not need to readjust every time you put them on. It is also a fun tool to use, so as a family everyone can join in the garden revitalization activity.
This multi-functional tool, with separate dethatcher and aerator drums, breaks up thatch using sprung prongs that do a nice job of pulling moss out of your lawn. It includes a 12.5A motor that helps lift organic debris from your lawn and perforates the soil to promote healthy grass growth. With the attached 45L collection box, there is no need for manual raking. Simply dispose of lawn debris after usage, and remember, always dethatch first.
A: Lawn thatch is a layer of dead organic tissue. It can protect the lawn by moderating temperature and reducing evapotranspiration when it is of a reasonable thickness, but too much thatch will limit soil oxygenation and reduce watering effectiveness.
A: Aerators are inexpensive depending on the area you live in. The size of your lawn will determine the type of aerator you need and how much you will spend. Even the tow-behind model with more power in it isn’t an overly expensive investment in your lawn. An aerator is a lifetime investment so you’re going to get a lot of use out of it.
A: The best time to aerate your lawn is based on 3 conditions; the type of grass in your lawn, weather conditions in your area, and the amount of moisture your lawn has received. Aeration can take place at any time of the year, but the best time to aerate your lawn is late summer or early fall, as fall is also the time for overseeding. It is best for the seeds to fall into the holes we create through aeration to guarantee they get deep into the soil and do not fall victim to erosion. Spring is the second-best time.
A: You can aerate a lawn with a pitchfork or spading fork by simply punching holes as deep as possible in the turf layer and then rocking the fork to enlarge the holes. Repeat and overlap your path as you move around your lawn. This is only useful for aerating smaller areas, as larger areas will require a lot of time and effort.