BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Lawn & Garden

Maintain healthy grass despite the summer heat with these lawn aeration tips and tools

Keep your lawn thriving with these aeration tips and tools

If you have a garden, you tend to it because it is a living thing. Your lawn is also a living thing. To thrive, it needs nutrients, water and air.

A plant gets all of these essentials from the soil. If the soil is compacted, these elements will not get to the roots in the levels needed and your lawn will begin to die. Aeration can change all that. It is the miracle chore that can make an unhealthy lawn thrive just by doing it once. 

What is lawn aeration, and why is it important?

When you eat, you use your mouth. The same thing goes with drinking water. When you breathe, you use both your nose and your mouth. Imagine how tough it would be to survive if your mouth and nose were blocked.

A plant eats, drinks and breathes primarily through its root system, which is underground. When the soil gets compacted, nutrients, water and air have a hard time getting to the plant's roots. This means a plant cannot get the nourishment it needs to survive.

When you aerate your lawn, you are actually breaking up the soil. This allows life-sustaining nourishment through so your grass can thrive.

How do I know if I need to aerate my lawn?

Many guides tell you to look for grass that is thinning, losing its color or diseased to identify an aeration problem. However, that does not give you the whole picture. Since aeration is a problem with the soil, it can be hard to judge if you need to aerate by just looking at your lawn. To know for sure that compacted soil is the problem, you need to pay attention to other clues.

  • Is your soil hard? Hard soil is compacted soil. If your soil is hard (and there hasn’t been a drought), it is a clear indication your lawn would benefit from aerating.
  • Do you have puddles? Puddles on your lawn are a good indication you need to aerate, but they could also indicate other issues. If there are puddles in your lawn long after it rains, it either means the soil is saturated, there’s a low spot or it is so compacted that it can’t absorb the water like it is supposed to. 
  • Does your soil dry out fast? This might seem to contradict the puddle sign, but it is the same symptom. If water does not get absorbed by your soil, it will evaporate. Instead of having moist soil after some light rain, you will have dry, hard soil. This is another clear indication that you need to aerate.

How often do I need to aerate my lawn?

If you aerate your lawn, it’s a good thing. The problem is, once people realize the benefit of aerating their lawn, they can do it too often. Since aerating your lawn adds stress to the plants, it is best to aerate your lawn only when it needs it. At the most, this could mean once each year. In general, though, it might mean once every few years. The way to know how often your lawn needs to be aerated is to watch for the clues listed in the previous section.

When should I aerate my lawn?

The best time to aerate your lawn is during its peak growing season. If you have cool-season grass, this would be early spring or fall when the temperatures are not too warm. For warm-season grasses, this would be in the early summer when temperatures start to warm up but before they are hot. It’s easy to tell when the peak growing season is because that is when your grass is growing the quickest. 

5 lawn aeration tips

  • Only aerate when your lawn needs it.
  • Aerate your lawn during its growing season.
  • Make sure to properly water your lawn after aeration.
  • If your lawn needs it, consider overseeding, adding fertilizer and (of course) watering after aerating.
  • If you are planning on using a lawn dethatcher, it is most effective to dethatch before aerating your lawn.

What you need to aerate your lawn

Agri-Fab 48-inch Tow Plug Aerator

This heavy-duty lawn aerator can remove three-quarter-inch plugs up to 3 inches deep to loosen compacted soil. It features 32 rustproof aerator knives and can hold up to 140 pounds to facilitate soil penetration. The flat-free tires on this tow-behind unit give you the confidence to aerate any terrain.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Ryobi One+ Cordless Dethatcher/Aerator

For the ultimate convenience, a battery-powered aerator is the answer. This model comes with two 4.0 Ah 18-volt batteries for maximum power. The machine includes two reels, one for dethatching and one for aerating, so you only have to purchase one product for both tasks. The handle folds over for convenient storage.

Sold by Home Depot

Agri-Fab Push Spike Aerator

If you prefer to do things manually, this walk-behind push spike aerator is a solid choice. This 16-inch model has five 7-inch aeration discs that can penetrate up to 2.5 inches deep. For best penetration, be sure to put a patio block on the tray. The comfortable aerator is easy to maneuver and best for smaller yards.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Angeles Home Rolling Lawn Aerator with Fender

The benefit of this lightweight rolling aerator is it has a large shield that helps keep you clean while working. It is made of steel for durability, and the three-piece handle is easy to disassemble for convenient storage.

Sold by Home Depot


Yard Butler Multi-spike Lawn Aerator

If you only have a small area that needs aerating, this is the model for you. It operates similarly to a manual edger — just place it on the ground and step on it. This drives the four 3-inch spikes deep into the soil so your plants can get the essentials: nutrients, water and air. It is made with powder-coated steel, so it is durable and rust-resistant.

Sold by Amazon

Gardenised Lawn and Garden Aerator Spike Shoes

If you are prone to pacing about your lawn and examining its health, these aerator spike shoes are perfect for you. These ingenious devices fit over your boots and let you aerate wherever you walk. They are held in place by three durable straps and are best for slightly moist soil.

Sold by Home Depot

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: