Keeping your lawn green and healthy requires being diligent about regular maintenance tasks like watering, fertilizing and mowing. However, even this is often not enough to make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood. Your grass needs access to the nutrients in the soil, but over time, the soil in your yard can start to become compacted.
When this happens, water, air and nutrients will have a much harder time penetrating down into the soil to reach the lawn’s roots. This is where using a lawn aerator can provide huge benefits by helping to loosen up the soil and thus allow air and water to penetrate down to the roots.
Of course, not all lawn aerators are equal, which is why it’s important to look at them in more detail to ensure you choose the right aerator for your needs.
Our Top 6 Picks for the Best Lawn Aerators
What Is a Lawn Aerator and Why Do You Need It?
A lawn aerator is a special type of lawn-care tool that essentially perforates the soil with numerous small holes. Aerating the lawn ensures that water, air and nutrients can penetrate deep into the soil and thus be easily taken up by the lawn’s roots. Aerating also helps to loosen up compacted soil, which makes it easier for the roots to also grow deeper and thus allows your grass to grow stronger, healthier and more vigorously.
Children and pets running around on your lawn or even walking on the grass will eventually cause the soil to become compacted. When the soil is compacted, it makes it much more difficult for nutrients to circulate and can thus starve the roots of what they need to grow strong and healthy.
Over time, the lawn can also build up a layer of organic debris and lawn thatch, which also has a similar effect of making it more difficult for nutrients to circulate. Using a lawn aerator is the easiest way to overcome these problems and allow your grass to grow to its full potential.
Types of Lawn Aerators
There are two main types of lawn aerators: plug aerators and spike aerators. Plug aerators are the more common type and also by far the most useful. These aerators remove a small plug or core of soil and grass, whereas a spike aerator is a simpler tool that uses spikes or tines to poke small holes into the soil.
The problem with spike aerators is that they can actually cause the soil to become even more compacted around the holes. On the other hand, a plug aerator is far more effective at reducing soil compaction since it doesn’t compress the soil when removing the plugs.
How to Use a Lawn Aerator
Aerating your lawn isn’t all that difficult, and usually all you’ll need to do is roll the aerator over the lawn to create the holes. No matter what type of aerator you’re using, it’s essential that the soil is moist enough. Nothing can be more frustrating that trying to aerate dry soil, and you’ll often find that plug aerators will only work when the soil is at least slightly moist.
For this reason, it is best to wait until the day after a rainstorm or water your lawn the day prior to aerating. Generally speaking, fall is the best time to aerate. Aerating in the spring provides weeds with a perfect place to germinate and thus spread throughout the lawn. However, aerating in the spring can still be a good choice, as it allows you to overseed the lawn and thus make it easier to fill in any bare spots.
Before you start aerating, you will want to make sure that you use flags or marking paint to mark out the locations of any sprinkler heads, irrigation lines, septic tank or anything else that could potentially be damaged by the aeration. Depending on the condition and type of soil, you may need to perform anywhere from one to three passes over the lawn.
If the soil is fairly sandy, only minimally compacted or has been aerated within the past year, it’s usually enough to go over the entire lawn only once with the aerator. However, you may need to make two or three passes if your soil is more compacted or it has been a while since you last aerated. In this case, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for 30 to 40 holes per square foot.
What to Do After Aeration
Once you’re done aerating, your lawn will be covered in hundreds or thousands of small soil plugs. Although you might not like how they look, it’s important that you don’t try to pick the plugs up. These plugs contain valuable nutrients and microorganisms, so you’ll want to leave them in place.
Nonetheless, after the plugs have dried out, you can break them up by either mowing your lawn or running a rake over the plugs. You’ll also want to make sure to water your lawn more frequently following aeration, especially during hot weather, as the soil will tend to dry out more quickly for the first week or two.
Aerating your lawn will definitely take some time and energy, which is part of the reason why most homeowners tend to avoid it. However, the truth is that a lawn aerator can hold the key to improving the look of your lawn and ensuring that it receives the air, water and nutrients it needs to grow to its full potential. For this reason, it is something that every homeowner should definitely consider doing at least once every year or two.
Our Lawn Aerator Reviews
The Agri-Fab 45-0299 is a durable and quite affordable option if you’re in the market for a heavy duty aerator. It has a 48 inch plug tray so it can cover a large area quite easily. You can add up to 175 pounds of weight to the tray, so you can decide what depths of plugs you want to take out of your yard.
There are eight galvanized knives on this aerator to help you not only aerate your lawn, but also to make sure it’s done in the best possible way. The knives are also rustproof due to being galvanized. In addition, there is a handle to make it easier for you to control while you’re driving.
The aerator also has 10”x4” tires to make sure the machine will stay steady throughout the process, no matter what kind of terrain you have in your yard. This will give it continuous aeration instead of it bouncing or tilting and missing large portions of your lawn.
The Brinly PA-40BH is also a tow behind aerator that you can use with your lawn mower or tractor. The diameter of the plugs is 40 inches to ensure that you’re removing enough to help your lawn instead of causing damage.
You can add up to 150 pounds of weight to this aerator, so that you can determine the depth that’s appropriate for your yard. It has an action lever to help you raise and lower the spoons from your driver’s seat. You’ll be able to continuously work with this aerator which should get your job done sooner.
It has 24 plug spoons made from steel which is strong enough to remove up to 3 inch of plug soils from your yard. It also has transport wheels that are easy to engage, so you can tow it to every part of your lawn that needs aeration.
If you have a smaller yard then this aerator would be great for you. This is a hand operated aerator with a non-slip rubber grip. So if you’re just trying to tend to an area that your larger aerator miss, this will meet the needs of the job.
The Yard Butler ID-6C also has a plug design. You can determine the depth you need for your lawn by the amount of pressure you put into it with your hands. You can also do a slight twisting motion to get a better outcome from this tool.
So if you have a relatively easy job to do, this aerator will be excellent. For those who don’t own a riding lawn mower or a tractor, this tool would also be a very good option.
Similar to the previous aerator, this tool is also a manual aerator that you use by hands to remove plugs of soil from your lawn. It works great for small areas of your lawn that need additional attention.
The Garden Weasel core aerator is made from sturdy material which allows you to spend less effort while still doing your work faster. It has a center footplate so you can add more pressure if needed to remove the soil plugs.
This tool weighs 3.4 pounds, which is lightweight enough for you to be able to use it continuously without taxing yourself too much. In our opinion, this is a simple and affordable option for homeowners who are just starting with lawn aeration.