Lawn aeration may just be the most important lawn care routine you have never heard of. In order for grass to thrive, it needs to have access to nutrients in the soil. Part of its ability to access these nutrients depends on its ability to reach down into the soil. Seems simple, right? That is what the roots are for.
A problem occurs, however, when the soil becomes dense or compacted. At these times, it can be difficult for grass to obtain the nutrients it needs. Signs that your grass may be suffering from compacted soil are the following:
- Soil that feels hard to the touch
What causes compaction in the soil? Here are a few factors:
- Dense soil like clay
- Vehicles on the lawn
- Any standing or walking on the lawn
It is pretty easy to tell when your soil is compacted. It feels hard when you touch it and may provide resistance when you try to insert items into it.
If you want to reverse the effects of compaction and give your grass access to the nutrients in the soil, you need to consider a lawn aerator. This tool creates channels in the lawn to allow more air circulation. Annually aerating your lawn can encourage healthier, thriving grasses.
Lawn aerators work in one of three ways. They can drive spikes into the ground to create holes, dig plugs of soil out of the ground, or cut pathways through the soil to create channels where air can flow. They come in a variety of sizes and styles to accommodate many different types of yards.
When it comes to purchasing a lawn aerator, you may want to focus on either the slicing aerators or the plug aerators. These tools are more effective at opening up your lawn to air flow, and plug aerators are the preferred choice of professionals. As a result, these types will be most effective for restoring your lawn to health.
There are many lawn aerators on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Here are the 8 best lawn aerators on the market today. Start with this list to find the one that will meet your lawn aeration needs.
Top 8 Best Lawn Aerators of 2019
1. Agri-Fab 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator – Best Premium Product
This lawn aerator is a tow-behind plug aerator. This means that you must use it with a 9 HP or larger tractor or mower and that it works by removing 1-3 inch plugs of soil from the yard. It is a large, heavy-duty unit best suited for big yards of an acre or more. Made primarily of steel and weighing about 95 pounds, it is durable enough for consistent use on big projects but may be hard to handle for some customers. At 48 inches wide, it provides exceptional coverage but can be hard to maneuver around corners.
This Agri-Fab lawn aerator comes with 10-inch semi-pneumatic tires that do not go flat to minimize maintenance or damage to the tires or the lawn. In addition, it creates aeration by using 32 aerator knives arranged in 8 spools. Made of galvanized steel, these knives are meant to penetrate and aerate the soil without breaking or dulling.
In order to achieve maximum penetration, you can load this aerator with up to 175 pounds of cinder blocks, bricks, or other weights. However, you will need to secure these weights to the aerator, which may add some labor to the job. The lawn aerator comes with a lever you can reach from the tractor to raise the aerator when passing over sidewalks or driveways. A universal hitch allows it to fit any tractor or mower.
- 32 galvanized knives
- Heavy duty steel construction
- Wide aeration path
- Universal hitch
- Height adjustment lever
- Difficult to maneuver around corners
- Not suitable for small jobs
2. Brinly 40-Inch Tow Behind Plug Aerator – Best Overall Product
Heavy-duty steel construction and a 40-inch width make this tow-behind plug aerator suitable for large jobs. This machine uses 24 heat-treated, 16-gauge blades on three separate rotator sections to dig out plugs up to 3 inches long. The heat treated steel makes the blades strong and less prone to dulling.
The separate rotator sections allow this lawn aerator to work effectively on uneven ground and makes maneuvering this tool easier. It also holds up to 150 pounds of extra weight in order to improve puncture depth.
The aerator also comes with a lever that raises and lowers the blades when crossing hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks. You do have to get off the tractor to use the lever, which can make it inconvenient to use if you must raise and lower the blades often.
This lawn aerator comes with a number of convenience features, including a universal hitch. Each blade can also be removed and services or replaced individually.
- Large enough for big jobs
- Universal hitch
- Separate rotator sections
- Relatively inexpensive
- Height lever cannot be reached from tractor seat
- Smaller than other heavy-duty tow-behind lawn aerator
3. Yard Butler Manual Coring Lawn Aerator – Best Product for Budget
For small yards or patches of grass that require aeration, a manual lawn aerator may be the right choice. This manual lawn aerator from Yard Butler digs out two 3.5-inch long plugs, each half an inch in diameter, at a time. A foot rest provides a way to exert added pressure to insert this lawn aerator into the ground.
It only weighs a few pounds, making it easy for almost anyone to handle. At the same time, customers report that it is durable and effective.
This tool is the least expensive aeration option for your yard, but is definitely not intended for use over a large area.
- Easy to use
- Not suitable for big jobs
- Manual labor required to operate
At 42-inches wide and made of solid steel, this lawn aerator provides enough solid coverage to handle yards of half an acre and larger. Despite its heavy-duty construction, it comes partially assembled to make it simple to complete assembly.
This lawn aerator uses 32 13-gauge steel plugging spoons. These spoons, when weighted properly with up to 150 additional pounds, can produce plugs up to 2.5 inches deep.
While this lawn aerator does not have a universal hitch, it does have a multi-height hitch that allows it to fit almost any tractor. A lever allows the user to engage and disengage the spoons as needed when driving over hard surfaces.
- Wide enough for big jobs
- Partially assembled
- Universal hitch
- Lever control of plug spoons
- Packaging is too flimsy for the weight of the machine
- Price is high for features
This tow-behind plug aerator has much in common with its 48-inch Agri-Fab counterpart, but on a smaller scale. It has a 40-inch width and 24 galvanized aerator blades. These blades are still strong and resist dulling, while pulling up soil plugs up to 3 inches long.
Its steel weight tray can hold up to 140 pounds to improve this lawn aerator’s depth penetration. A lever that can be reached from the tractor seat allows the blades to be raised and lowered to make it easier to cross hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks. A universal hitch allows you to connect this lawn aerator to any tractor.
This lawn aerator suffers from insufficient packaging which often leads to torn or damaged boxes. In addition, its cost is not much less than its larger counterpart’s, bringing the value you get for the cost into question.
- Universal hitch
- Steel construction
- Easy height lever
- Universal hitch
- Flimsy packaging
- Relatively costly
- Smaller than other models made by the same manufacturer
Despite a small, flimsy appearance, the tiller aerator and the dethatcher combo from Mantis earn strong reviews from customers for their power and effectiveness. Each attachment fits the Mantis Tiller/Cultivator.
The aerator, which this review will focus on, is a scarifier. That means that it slices into the ground rather than removing plugs to create space in the soil for the grass roots to reach air and nutrients. This system can lead to a yard that looks scraped up. However, customers report that the end result is a healthier and more vibrant grass.
The aerator uses tempered steel on its four sets of blades to increase toughness and reduce the chances of breakage. Because this lawn aerator is attached to a tiller/cultivator, it is push operated. Customers report that the aerator can be difficult to operate due to resistance from the machine.
- Affordable attachment
- Efficient and powerful
- Must use with Mantis Tiller/Cultivator
- Tough to push
For getting multiple lawn chores done at once, you may want to consider this VonHaus corded electric lawn aerator. This lawn tool also scarifies and dethatches (removes the layer of dead grass from the surface of the lawn).
A corded machine, it delivers 12.5 amps of power, though it may limit how far you can go and how much lawn you can treat. It works at a 15-inch width which, combined with the 32-foot cord, makes this tool ideal for small or medium-sized yards.
With the ability to fold the handle and remove the 45L collection bag, you don’t need much space to store this tool. You can also choose from among five different depths to work at, ranging from .1 inch to .59 inches.
- Easy assembly
- Multi-purpose tool
- Compact storage
- Multi-depth selection
- Cord limits range
- Limited to small and medium yards
Another manual core lawn aerator, the Garden Weasel is designed for small yards and small patches of larger lawns that require aeration. It removes two 3-inch long plugs at every use. It features a handle designed for comfort and a footrest to provide extra leverage when pushing this lawn aerator into the ground.
This lawn aerator does tend to clog unless used properly on grass and soil of the right dampness.
- Designed for comfort
- Tends to clog
- Only suitable for small jobs
How to Choose the Best Lawn Aerator
Even with a list of the 8 best lawn aerators of 2019, you have to find the one that works best for your lawn. Here are a few things to consider to help you decide.
Consider project size.
As you may have noticed from the list above, the size of your project will influence which lawn aerator you purchase. Big yards, for example, require large and sturdy tow-behind aerators. Small yards, or projects that require aerating only a portion of the yard, may only require a manual lawn aerator. Consider the size of your project, and choose a lawn aerator accordingly.
Go with a plug aerator.
We have one scarifier listed on our best lawn aerators of 2019 lineup, and with good reason. In general, plug aerators, which dig plugs of soil out of the ground instead of slicing through the ground, work better at opening up the soil to air flow. The plug lawn aerators dig deeper, leave the yard looking nicer, and are the choice of many yard care professionals. Plus, the plug left on top of the soil helps to provide micronutrients to the soil as the plug breaks down over time.
Look for durability.
No matter how big or small your project, you want a lawn aerator that will last. Over time, this tool will save you money over renting, but only as long as it lasts past one or two uses. That is why you want to look for features like solid steel construction, treated metal blades, warranties, and solid customer reviews to ensure that the lawn aerator you buy will serve you well over time .
Find something convenient.
Finally, when choosing the best lawn aerator, choose one that is convenient and easy to use. For example, a lever that controls blade height from the tractor is important, as is a universal hitch. Partially assembled or lightweight machines are easier to handle. You may also want to consider features like maneuverability and whether or not the lawn aerator can dethatch at the same time.
A lawn aerator can be a valuable tool for improving the health and vibrancy of your lawn. Look for one that is easy to use, durable, affordable, and the right size. Then enjoy the benefits of delivering fresh air and nutrients to your grass.