There’s nothing more visually satisfying in your yard than a well-manicured, luscious green lawn. The lawn is the focal point of your yard, and if it’s looking sparse, then you need to make some adjustments to your lawn care.
A patchy lawn does your garden no favors. You could have magnificent flowerbeds, but if your lawn is looking worse for wear, then it ruins the visual aesthetic of your yard.
One of the best ways to ensure your lawn grows to its full potential this season is to aerate the ground. Aerations serves to introduce more air to the roots of your grass, resulting in faster and stronger growth of your lawn.
There are numerous tools you can use to aerate your lawn. Dethatchers, scarifiers, and aerators are the most popular options for this task. We took a look at the best lawn aerating machines and tools to give you the best options for returning your grass to its former glory. Here is our review of the best lawn aerators.
Top 3 Picks
- 1 Top 3 Picks
- 2 The Best Lawn Aerators
- 3 The Best Manual Lawn Aerator for Small Spaces – Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator
- 4 The Best Lawn Aerator Machine – Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator
- 5 The Best Power Rake and Dethatcher – GreenWorks 27022 10 Amp 14′ Corded Dethatcher/Scarifier
- 6 Brinly PA-40BH Tow-Behind Plug Aerator
- 7 Lawn Aerator Spike Shoes
- 8 Lawn Aerator Buyers Guide
- 9 Steps to Aerating Your Lawn
- 10 What Factors Play a Role When Buying a Lawn Aerator?
- 11 The Types of Aerators and Dethatchers
- 12 A Word on Warranties
- 13 Wrapping Up – The Verdict
In case you don’t have the time to go through the entire review, we put our top choices in this section.
The Best Lawn Aerator Machine – Agri-Fab 45-0299 Tow Plug Aerator
- 3 Year Limited Consumer Warranty
- Made in the USA with some imported materials
- Simple-to-use cantilever transport handle for easy raising and lowering.
The Agri-Fab 40 is our top choice for a tow aerator. This machine has everything you need to ensure your lawn gets the air it needs to the roots of your grass. It’s a user-friendly machine that produces excellent results.
The Best Power Rake and Dethatcher – GreenWorks 27022 Corded Dethatcher/Scarifier
- Robust 10 Amp motor, ergonomic, padded grip and adjustable handle for user comfort
- 14 inches dethatching path gets your work done faster
- 3-position tine depth adjustment provides greater control by removing matted layers to promote continued lawn health
- Stainless steel tines stay sharp longer for reliable performance, also includes full set of replacement tines for a total of 18 tines
- A wire gauge size (A.W.G.)of at least 14 is recommended for an extension cord 50 feet or less in length, an undersized cord will cause a drop in line voltage resulting in loss of power and overheating
If you’re looking for the best combo aerator and dethatcher, this tool is your top choice. The Greenworks machine might be a bit on the pricey side, but it’s the ideal choice for single-family homes with average to medium-sized lawns.
Best Manual Lawn Aerator – Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator Manual
- REMOVES TWO ½” WIDE 3 ½ INCH GRASS PLUG LAWN CORES, reducing soil compaction and dethatching your lawn while letting air, water and fertilizer get down to the roots of your yard.
- REDUCES RUNOFF AND PROMOTES TURF GROWTH. Your lawn will look better with less water and fertilizer.
- HAND HELD LAWN AERATOR WITH FOOT BAR FOR EXTRA LEVERAGE. Perfect garden tool for easily aerating smaller yards. Promotes vigorous root growth, strengthening tolerance to drought and heat stress.
- BUILT TO LAST Durable steel construction, 37 inch tool height is designed to reduce back strain and make it easy to aerate your whole yard.
If you don’t mind putting some elbow grease into your gardening, then the Yard Butler is our best choice for a manual aerator. It’s an affordable tool that every gardener should have in their shed. It might have a manual operation, but it’s an ideal choice for smaller yards that don’t have much lawn.
The Best Lawn Aerators
So, what are your options for purchasing the best lawn aerator? When we decided to look through the dozens of offerings available from numerous manufacturers, we picked these as our top- choices.
If you’re having trouble finalizing your decision, you can always go with one of the recommendations we have at the beginning of this review.
The Best Manual Lawn Aerator for Small Spaces – Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator
This 2-spike manual aerator from Yard Butler is a heavy-duty fork-design designed to loosen thatch and aerate the soil of your lawn. The straight shaft has a footplate that stops the fork at the ideal strike depth to ensure maximum aeration of your lawn.
The shaft splits before the strike plate, allowing you to balance your foot in the center of the tool for optimal foot pressure when working. The long shaft reduces back fatigue, which comes in handy when you’re half-way through the job.
You also get cushioned handle grips to reduce impact fatigue and stress on your palms. The 3-1/2-inch spikes work well in a variety of conditions. However, we don’t advise using this tool in clay-type soil. The clay might clog in the cores, resulting in you having to dig it out with each use.
Using the tool is relatively labor-intensive, so it’s best for use in small gardens that have ornamental lawns. Trying to use this aerator in a large yard could take you the entire day to finish the task.
Still, it’s a sturdy tool, and it comes with an affordable price point. If you’re looking for a cheap aerator and will last a lifetime, then this is your best option.
- Handheld manual operation.
- Ideal for small yards.
- Removes four half-inch-wide plug cores, with a cutting depth of 3-1/2-inches.
- Foot bar for added leverage.
- Durable construction built to last.
- Affordable and functional
- Useful in moderately compacted lawns
- Best for use in small areas
- Easy storage
- Lifetime guarantee
The Best Lawn Aerator Machine – Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator
Agri-Fab is a reputable brand in the world of gardening equipment. This tow-along plug aerator is the ideal choice for larger yards and estates. You attach the aerator to any standard hitch on a seated mower and then trundle along aerating your lawn with ease.
The aerator has a load deck on top of the machines cutting deck to force the self-sharpening plug knives into the ground. You load cinderblocks or suitable weights into the load deck before you start aerating. The device also features an easy-to-reach height-adjustment lever, allowing you to lower or raise the bar with little effort.
The weighted cutting deck drives the three welded knife stations to penetrate deep into the ground, removing plugs without clogging the knives. The self-sharpening action of the machine ensures that your plug knives have a long service life.
You can tow this aerator behind a mower, tractor, or an ATV. The sturdy design of the machine means that the manufacturer built it for heavy-duty use and its best for larger yards and estates.
The only drawback to this machine is that it comes unassembled. Most reviews suggest it takes three or four hours to put everything together, and the ins5tructions aren’t very helpful.
- Weight tray that holds up to 175-lbs
- 48-inch plug aerator cutting width
- Self-sharpening action
- 32-plug aerator knives
- Flat-free tires for smooth movement
- Transport handle allows for easy lowering and raising of the cutting deck
- Universal tow hitch for attachment to seated mowers
- Suitable for larger lawns and estates
- 3-welded knife station on the cutting bar
- Suitable for heavy-duty use
- Wide cutting deck
- durable build quality
- 3-year warranty
- USA designed and manufactured
- Excellent customer service
- Confusing assembly instructions
- Long build time
- Requires substantial storage space
The Best Power Rake and Dethatcher – GreenWorks 27022 10 Amp 14′ Corded Dethatcher/ScarifierThe Greenworks electric aerator machine is the best choice for medium-sized yards in free-standing homes. The machine produces no emissions, and its corded operation means you’ll never run out of battery life or gas when aerating your lawn.
The cord can get it the way when aerating, and you’ll need to ensure you keep moving it away from the machines cutting path. The cutting deck also features adjustable depth to suit different grass types.
The Greenworks gets its power from a 10-Amp motor that’s powerful enough to provide you with excellent operation while minimizing the effort you need to put into operating the machine. The dethatcher comes with an entire replacement set of tines, but users can expect a long service life on the original times as well.
The machine pushes along effortlessly, dethatching your lawn in minutes. We recommend this model for larger gardens and front yards, as well.
- 14-inch cutting deck
- Electric model, no emissions
- Adjustable tines to 3-depth settings
- Stainless steel tines for durability
- Efficient and effective operation
- Electric model, no gas required
- 4-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Assembly instructions confusing
Brinly PA-40BH Tow-Behind Plug AeratorThis tow-along aeratorfeatures a 40-inch wide cutting deck. The shaft of the machine consists of 24 heat-treated stainless steel cutting spoons that lift core plugs from your lawn with ease. This is another excellent machine for use on estates and larger lawns.
Attach the tow-hitch to your lawnmower, ATV, or tractor, and let the machine do the work for you. The aerator has a loading deck on top of the cutting shaft where you can place cinderblocks or weights up to 150-pounds to help the machine drive the cutting spoons into the lawn.
Some buyers report that the assembly time takes a while due to having to attach each of the cutting spoons individually. However, this also makes them inexpensive and easy to replace in the future. The tines don’t clog, and the machine does an excellent job of aerating the lawn.
The turning on this machine is easy, and you can easily get it over driveways and pathways, as well. However, it may struggle in tight corners, and users should avoid reversing with the aerator attached.
Some reports suggest users got incomplete kits from the manufacturer. However, the customer service team at Binley was quick to replace any missing parts. Overall, we think that this is a good machine, but we would instead go with the Agri-Fab 40.
- Relieve and aerate compacted soil in your lawn
- 24 x heat-treated, 16-gauge stainless steel plugging spoons
- 3-inch cutting depth
- Durable design and construction
- Easy to move
- Universal tow hitch
- Simple assembly and easy maintenance
- Designed and built in the USA
- The cutting spoons don’t clog and are easy to replace
- Excellent customer service
- Easy operation
- Incomplete sets reported in reviews
- Lengthy assembly time
Lawn Aerator Spike Shoes
Now you can aerate your garden effortlessly while you mow your lawn or take a stroll around the garden.These aerating shoe add-ons are an excellent choice for gardeners with small to medium-size yards.
The plastic-soles of the shoes feature straps that go over your shoes, secured with metal buckles. On the underside of the show, you’ll find 13 x 2-inch spikes that penetrate the lawn as you walk. You can wear your spike shoes while mowing the lawn and finish two jobs at the same time.
All of the metal components on the spike shoes are corrosion-resistant, meaning that you can wear them if your lawn is slightly damp or wet. The shoes also have a great price point, and they’re an affordable alternative to purchasing a costly aeration machine.
One of the drawbacks of the shoes is that you need to be standing on the lawn when fitting them to your gardening shoes. Also, if you fall over, the shoes won’t allow for the natural movement of your knees and might result in a ligament tear in senior gardeners.
- Easy to use aeration system for use when mowing your lawn
- Inexpensive alternative
- Easy to fit your gardening shoes
- Satisfaction guarantee
- Easy to use
- One-size fits all
- Spiking aeration system, not plugged
- Might present an injury risk for seniors
- Can clog with soil or other garden debris
Lawn Aerator Buyers Guide
Why do you need to aerate your lawn? That’s a common question from newbie gardeners. Your lawns soil experiences “compaction” over time. The soil compresses together due to heavy rainfalls, foot traffic, and various other reasons.
Eventually, the compaction gets so intense that it prevents air from penetrating the ground. Grass needs a consistent flow of fresh air to the roots to survive, just like any other plant. If the roots don’t get enough air, the grass starts to die back, resulting in thinner lawns with bare patches.
By aerating your lawn, you loosen the soil, allowing air to penetrate the soil’s surface and reach the roots of your grass. Aeration also provides water and nutrients to penetrate the ground, resulting in a boost of nutrition to your lawn that spurs growth.
Aerating Vs. Dethatching – What’s the Difference?
Any gardener that spends some time researching lawn aeration comes across the term “dethatching.” What is dethatching? Thatch refers to the dead grass stems, roots, and blades that fall into the soil. In essence, the thatch is the layer between the earth and your healthy grass.
Thatch is good for the health of your lawn. Most lawns thrive if they have a ½-inch layer of thatch under the surface layer of the grass.
The thatching is especially helpful if you live in USDA zones 8 to 11. These regions experience strong sunlight that causes extensive evaporation of water from the soil and might end up killing off your grass. The thatching helps to prevent the ground from getting too warm while retaining moisture.
However, more than ½-inch starts to give you lawn problems. The thatch cuts out sunlight and air from reaching the ground, accelerating the compaction process. Your grass might also root in the thatch, preventing it from getting access to the nutrients it needs to grow.
If your lawn has extensive thatching, then you’ll benefit from the use of a dethatching machine more than an aerator. However, using both tools is an excellent way to remediate your lawn. There are combination tools you can use that both dethatch and aerate your lawn for best results.
Is It Necessary to Aerate the Lawn?
While aeration and dethatching are excellent methods to increase airflow to the roots of your grass, some gardeners might not need to use this technique for adequate lawn management. Here are a few tips to check if your lawn qualifies for aeration.
If your lawn dries out quickly, especially in the strong sunlight, it might develop a springy feel underfoot. The spring sensation comes from a thick layer of thatch under your feet. To check the status of your lawn, chop out a chunk to a depth of 1-foot. If you find that there’s a layer of thatch that’s deeper than ½-inch thick, then you’ll need to consider dethatching and aerating your lawn.
If you live in new construction, then the chances are that the building activity compacted the soil in your lawn. Building contractors move back and from the site all day, building perimeter walls, patios, and the like. As a result of the foot traffic, the soil starts to compact. In this case, you’ll need to aerate the compacted soil to facilitate the growth of your grass.
If your kids and pets spend plenty of time playing on your grass, the soil might start to compact. Pets also tend to travel along the same paths around your property, creating “runs.” These runs slowly compact6 the earth over the year, resulting in spare areas where you can see a trail in your grass. Aeration of the trail improves airflow to the roots, allowing your lawn to recover.
If your lawn features construction with layers of sod on top of the soil, it might cause settling of the sod and compaction of the soil. The sod has a different density to the soil, resulting in separation of the layers and a reduction in airflow and water absorption into the ground. Aerating your lawn balances the sod and soil, enhancing the health and growth rate of your grass.
The Benefits of Aeration
So, why would you bother with aerating your lawn? Dethatching and aeration have many benefits for your grass.
Here are our top benefits for aerating your lawn this growing season.
- The soil loosens and absorbs more water from rainfall and watering practices.
- Aeration reduces compaction, allowing the roots of your grass to breathe and absorb nutrients.
- The thatching breaks down much easier, resulting in more water reaching the roots of your grass.
- Your lawn becomes more resistant to heat stress and drought conditions.
- The oxygen flow to the roots of your grass increases, spurring lawn growth.
- Your lawn gets robust root development.
- You decrease water run-off in your lawn significantly.
As you can see, it’s to your benefit to dethatch and aerate your lawn at least once a season. If you aerate your grass, it stimulates growth by increasing your lawn’s ability to breathe and absorb water and nutrients.
The Best Time to Aerate Your Lawn
When is it the best time to aerate your lawn? If you follow the lawn test outlined above and find that your grass is in desperate need of dethatching and aeration, then it’s time to take action. Experts recommend that you aerate when the growing season is well underway.
By aerating your lawn when your grass is growing fast, you mitigate the damage you do to the roots of the turf during dethatching and aeration. As a result, your lawn recovers from the stress of aeration quickly.
If you have a lawn with cool-season grasses, then it’s best to aerate during the early springtime. If your lawn has warm-weather grass, then aerate during the late spring for best results. Aerating too early in the season may damage the roots of your grass. As a result, it takes the lawn longer to recover, and you might end up with sparse patches.
The answer depends on your situation. If you have a decent lawn and are looking to maintain its current condition, then once a season in the springtime is more than sufficient. This strategy leaves your lawn looking lush and green all through the summer, and ensures your grass has robust root systems that survive the winter.
However, if your lawn is new or has severe compaction, you might need to aerate it more often to stimulate the growth of your grass. At the top end, aerating up to 5-times a season is preferable. Many golf courses aerate between 3 to 5 times a year, but that because they have plenty of foot traffic.
What Results Can You Expect from Aerating Your Lawn?
After finishing your first round of aeration, the plugs form deposits in a uniform formation of lines across your lawn. It looks like a squadron of trained moles decided to dive through the grass, leaving tiny little molehills behind.
This soil assimilates into the grass with each watering session and disappears entirely in a few days to a week. After 7 to 10-days, take a look inside the aeration plugs. You should notice white roots beginning to show in the base of the plugs. That’s a good sign that the aeration was a success, and your lawn is reaping the benefits.
You’ll also notice that the water retention of your lawn increases with each watering, and there’s less pooling after thunderstorms as well. As a result, the grass absorbs more water, turning thick and lush.
Spike Aerators Vs. Plug Aerators
You get two options for aeration tools – plug or spike aerators.
Spike aeration tools are usually manual tools that look similar to pitchforks. However, the “fork” has up to 6-prongs that are straight and thicker than a regular pitchfork prong. There’s also a strike-plate that stops the prongs penetrating the ground past the ideal depth. That’s a handy feature for avoiding hitting any buried wiring or pipes.
When you push a large-diameter spike into the ground, some gardeners argue that the actions increase soil compaction. The action can “seal” the area around the spike as it drives into the compacted soil.
These gardeners can benefit from a plug aerator to resolve this issue. A plug aerator drives a tube into the ground, removing a small soil sample. It takes this “cut-out” and deposits it on the surface after removal. As a result, your lawn has hundreds of plugs made by the machine, and you’ll notice tiny deposits spread uniformly across your lawn after you finish.
When choosing a plug aerator, you’ll want a machine that takes plugs to a depth of 3-inches deep and 0.5-inches wide. You need a distance of 3-inches between the plugs for optimal aeration of your lawn.
Steps to Aerating Your Lawn
Aerating your lawn isn’t a complicated process if you have the right tools. This quick step-by-step guide to aeration will walk you through everything you need to know.
Water the Previous Afternoon
The soil needs to be as moist as possible before you start. Water the lawn the afternoon before you aerate to give it enough time to absorb it and limit evaporation. Trying to pull the plugs out of dry soil is challenging, and requires more than double the effort of when the lawns moisture levels are high.
Let the Plugs Dry
After pulling your plugs, let them dry. Some gardeners make the mistake of raking them in straight away, and some of the soil ends up back in the plugs, defeating the purpose of the exercise.
The plugs dry and fade away by themselves in most cases. However, if they’re still there after a week, then you can rake them into the lawn.
Take a few Passes
Your lawn aerator doesn’t cover a large area. Therefore, you’ll need to run a few passes. Think of it as mowing your lawn twice. Use the same motion of moving back and forth over the entire surface, and then do it again for good measure.
What Factors Play a Role When Buying a Lawn Aerator?
The Size of Your Lawn
Those individuals with small lawns in cluster homes or small free-standing homes can get away with a manual aerator or a push unit. If you have a larger property, then you’ll need a tow-along aerator or a gas-powered model. Choose the right model to suit your garden and your needs.
Plugs or Spikes?
As mentioned, there’s some controversy over this issue. Spike aerators do provide some benefit, but we think a plug aerator is the best route to go if you have the budget. Manual plug aerators might also struggle to release the plug after pulling it from the lawn, requiring you to manually remove it, adding a significant amount of extra work into the task.
The Types of Aerators and Dethatchers
When choosing your aerator, you have three options. Aerators and dethatchers come in manual, tow-hitch, or push models. Select the model that’s the right choice for your garden.
Manual aerators require you to do the work. For instance, “fork-style” aerators need you to push into the ground using your foot. These types of aerators typically suit small yards that have ornamental lawns. Trying to use this aerator for a large yard will take hours of back-breaking work.
If you own a large property or estate, and you already use a sit-down mower for your lawn, then a tow-along aerator is your top choice. Tow-along aerators hitch to any mower, ATV, or tractor. You’ll have to load the aerator to give it enough pressure to force the cutting spoons, twines, or knives into the soil.
If you have a medium-size garden, and you use a mower on your lawn, then you can look at purchasing a push-along aerator. These systems come in electric and gas-powered models. However, we recommend you use an electric model. A gas-powered version is noisy, and it pollutes the local environment as well.
A Word on Warranties
When selecting your lawn aeration tool or machine, always look for at least a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty on the product. You’ll only be aerating your lawn a handful of times a year at most, so having an extended warranty on your machine is important to safeguard you against future problems.
Wrapping Up – The Verdict
Choosing the right aerator or dethatcher for your lawn depends on your situation. If you have a small ornamental garden in a cluster home, then we recommend the manual aerator. The Yard
Butler is both an affordable and durable tool that will last for years. We like the spiked shoes, they’re a good idea, but we don’t like the spike-style aeration technique.
If you own a home with a medium-size yard, then check out the Greenworks push aerator. This model is reasonably priced, and Greenworks make some of the best gardening tools and machines available. The electric operation is kind on the environment, and it effortlessly aerates your lawn.
For those gardeners that have to aerate large lawns on plots, estates, or entertainment grounds like golf clubs, then a tow-along aerator is your best option. These aerators hitch up to any ATV, mower, or tractor, and they offer the effortless aeration of your lawn.
If we had to choose, the Agri-Fab 40 is the best two model, and we think its sturdy design and wide cutting deck is ideal for any large lawn.
When making your final selection, ensure that you purchase the right lawn aerator for your yard. Use the information in this guide to help you reach an informed purchase decision on your new garden tool.