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Best Lawn Aerators

Updated April 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. Read more
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 5 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 134 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best lawn aerators

    Last Updated April 2018

    Whether you are trying to have the biggest and best vegetable garden this season, are hoping that your flower beds will be the talk of the neighborhood, or are looking to improve the health and appearance of your lawn, lawn aeration is key to achieving all of your gardening and lawn care goals.

    Many gardeners don’t realize that lawn aeration is a vital step to achieving a healthy, green, lush yard. Without regular aeration, the roots of your plants will be deprived oxygen and key nutrients. Lawn aeration improves soil drainage, allows roots to breath and receive all the nutrients they need, and encourages worm movement in the soil. The right lawn aerator can make all the difference, and purchasing the perfect model for your gardening needs can be the difference between a lush, beautiful lawn and the brown, brittle grass we all hate to see.

    At BestReviews, we care about your gardening goals and we want to help you find the perfect lawn aerator. We spend hours researching products to find the best possible recommendations for consumers. We keep up on current market trends, scour customer reviews, consult experts and test out the items we recommend.

    If you are new to the world of aerators, it be can tricky to navigate through all the features, considerations, and price differences. Check out our top five picks for lawn aerators above to help you decide the best product for your individual needs, and read on to learn more about this lawn and garden product.

    Lawn aeration is the most important preventative measure you can take to ensure a healthy lawn or garden.

    Types of lawn aerators

    Manual lawn aerators

    These are best for smaller gardens or plots of land. Manual lawn aerators require body weight to physically pierce the earth. Most models come with spikes or a corer. Some manual lawn aerators can be purchased in a shoe version that allows you to simply walk around on your lawn or garden to aerate.

    Pros:

    • Tend to be inexpensive.

    • Best for smaller plots of land.

    • Can easily fit into small spaces.
       

    Cons:

    • Require more physical labor.

    • Can only aerate a small plot of land at a time and are not suggested for large lawns or gardens.

    • Gardeners will have to separately fertilize their land, which will add more time to the overall process.

    The easier it is to aerate, the more someone is likely to do it. That's why it's important to get a piece of equipment you don't mind using, whether it's a manual core aerator or push spike aerator.

    Natalie
    Farmer

    Electric lawn aerators

    This type of lawn aerator is best for homeowners who have large plots of land to aerate. While they can be expensive, some gardeners swear by them.

    Pros:

    • Good for large plots of land or gardens.

    • They have the ability to cover more ground in less time.

    • Ideal for professional landscapers or those who spend lots of time on their lawn or garden.

    • Most models come with a variety of settings and adjustments so gardeners can personalize their experience.

    • Require less physical labor.


    Cons:

    • Expensive.

    • Require more effort and space to transport and store.

    • Many experts believe that electric lawn aerators are unnecessary.

    Attached lawn aerators

    These lawn aerators, (also called pull behind aerators), fulfill many of the benefits of the manual and electric aerator without some of the hassle.

    Pros:

    • Can be mounted onto a riding or push mower to aerate and fertilize the lawn all in one shot.

    • Many of these models can also be used as pushable lawn aerators.

    • Can achieve many of the same benefits of the electric lawn aerator at a fraction of the cost.

    • Gardeners can simultaneously fertilize and aerate their lawns in one step.
       

    Cons:

    • They sometimes require added weight to ensure that the spikes or cores are getting far enough into the soil.

    • Can be complicated to assemble.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A key benefit to aeration is that the lawn becomes more resistant to heat and drought.

    What is the difference between a core aerator and a spike aerator?

    Core aerators

    A core aerator is also sometimes referred to as a plug aerator. Core aerators actually remove a chunk of the soil. This allows for water and oxygen to reach the roots and accelerate the growing process of the plant.

    Core aerators are often preferred by experts because they allow the roots of your plants to breath. The space they leave behind promotes worm movement and allows space for nutrients to reach the roots.

    The downside to this system is that it takes more effort and it leaves soil “plugs” all across your lawn. While these plugs don’t have to be removed instantly, they must either be mowed over to break them down, or physically removed or else they will create an unhealthy layer over the soil.

    You can leave the cores on the grass and let them dry, then mow over the top. The mower will actually chop up the cores and spread the dirt. For small urban yards, this is fantastic.

    Natalie
    Farmer

    Spike aerators

    A spike aerator pushes the soil down and creates a small “hole” in the soil. Generally, manual lawn aerators provides a spike aeration system. The “shoed” model is considered a spike aeration system because it acts almost like a cleat and pushes the soil down, creating a small void.

    Experts report that the spike method is less effective, but it is much easier and must less time consuming. It requires no clean up afterward. Both spike and core aerators can be found in manual, electric, and attached models.

    Lawn aerator considerations

    Before purchasing your lawn aerator, you will want to consider the following factors to ensure that you are getting the perfect model for your needs. Here are the key considerations before buying a lawn aerator.

    Plot size

    Whether you are working on a flower bed, vegetable garden, large field, or lawn, the square footage of land that you have to work with will greatly influence the type of lawn aerator you purchase.

    Manual aerators aren’t the best pick for a gardener who needs to cover a large amount of land. Likewise, a cumbersome, heavy electric aerator is the wrong choice for a delicate flower garden. If you are aerating a larger plot of land, you’ll want a aerator that is wider to cover more ground.

    Purchase a product that will stand up against the elements. Look for a coated metal material.

    Soil type and spike depth

    You are going to want to make sure that the spike depth can reach at least a few inches below the surface of the soil to ensure that you are getting the most benefits. Additionally, you will want to look at the hole type created by the aerator. A spiked aerator is best for loamy soil while a coring aerator is best for clay soils. Many experts consider coring aerators a better investment since they remove a chunk of soil, creating room for oxygen, nutrients, and water to reach the roots.

    • Clay soil: Clay soil can be tricky because it tends to condense quickly and easily once it becomes dry. This soil can be difficult to use a core aerator in if it hasn’t been aerated for a long time. It is a good idea to use a spike aerator first, and then maintain aeration once a year with a core aerator.
    • Sandy soil: Since sandy soil doesn’t tend to hold onto water and is not as dense, it can be aerated less regularly. This soil type responds well to core or spike aerators.
    EXPERT TIP

    If you've got a big yard, opt for the push aerator or pull behind. It's worth the investment.


    Natalie  | Farmer

    Lawn aerator prices

    Lawn aerators have a huge price range. Consumers can pay anywhere between $25 and $2,000 for a lawn aerator.

    Unless you own a landscaping company, you need not pay top dollar for a large, electric lawn aerator. You can get all of the primary bells and whistles of a top rated lawn aerator for around $200. If you are operating within a tight budget, manual lawn aerators can be purchased for $20 to $30.

    Tips

    • The best time to aerate your lawn is during the spring and fall seasons.

    • If your lawn gets a lot of traffic (neighborhood kids, pets, and backyard barbecues), you are going to want to aerate your lawn regularly.

    • Aerate your lawn/garden at least once a year.

    • Don’t wait until your lawn is showing signs of damage. (Brittle, dry grass, large yellowing or brown grass patches, or the absence of worms.)

    • The winter months are the perfect time to start planning your lawn care regimen for the spring.

    One of the oldest forms of aeration is the repeated puncturing of the soil using an old fashioned pitchfork.

    FAQ

    Q. What are some of the most common mistakes people make when aerating their lawns?
    A.
    Many people don’t realize that they need to apply enough pressure to their aerator to ensure that the spikes or core make it far enough into the soil. If you are using an attached aerator, it is a good idea to place heavy weights on the aerator to ensure that the spikes or cores are making it far enough into the soil. If you are using a manual one (even though this can get difficult after a long period of time), make sure you are applying the same level of heavy pressure each time to keep the depth consistent.

    Q. What material should I look for or stay away from?
    A.
    Remember that for most of the year, your aerator will stay in storage. It is best to find a rust-proof material like a coated metal. This material will resist wear and tear and will hold up well in a shed or garage. You’ll want to stay away from flimsy plastics.

    Q. If I use a coring aerator, do I need to remove the pods of soil?
    A.
    No. You do not need to remove them right away, but in order to have a healthy lawn, you have to either mow over them to break up the soil and keep it from creating an unhealthy layer of dead grass on the top of your lawn , or you can rake or pick them up. As long as you don’t leave them sitting on top of the lawn for more than a day, you won’t impact the health of your lawn or garden.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer