The 8 best lawn aerators

Best aerators for your lawn

Aeration is important for any lawn because it loosens up tightly compacted soil so water, air and nutrients can get down to the roots. This lets the grass grow lush and healthy. There are several types of lawn aerators, ranging from manual to electric, each with its advantages. Regardless of which type you get, it’s a good idea to aerate your yard at least once a year.

Aeration and dethatching

Over time, yards collect organic matter such as dead grass, leaves, stems, shoots and other debris. This is called thatch and can be harmful for three reasons:

  • It blocks essential resources such as sunlight, water and oxygen from reaching the grass roots.
  • It can add stress to the grass roots and keep them from growing properly.
  • It creates a breeding ground for pests and plant diseases.

If you have no more than half an inch of thatch, you shouldn’t need to dethatch the lawn before aerating it. Otherwise, use a dethatcher tool to remove the top layers of organic matter to make the process easier.

Types of aerators

The main types of aerators that exist are:

  • Core: Core aerators have hollow tines that dig into the dirt and remove core or plugs of soil. This loosens up the earth, keeping it from becoming too compact and preventing resources from reaching the grass roots. Most core aerators are manual and leave behind small, round holes around 2 to 3 inches deep. They’re best for heavily compacted yards.
  • Spike: These are similar to core aerators, but they use thin spikes to create very small holes throughout the yard. They don’t remove any plugs. Instead, they push down the soil, leaving more room near the surface.
  • Slicing: Slicing aerators use rotating blades to cut through the grass and thatch into the soil. They’re best for yards with a lot of compact dirt and organic matter.
  • Liquid: A newer method, this works by using a liquid solution with a garden hose that has a spray nozzle. The solution, which is usually ammonium lauryl sulfate, can break down soil and other dense particles found in the yard. This method doesn’t require heavy equipment, but it’s a slower process and best for moderately compacted yards.

Manual vs. electric

Aerators are either manual or electric.

  • manual aerators: There are two types of manual aerators: shoes and step-on. The shoes attach to your boots and have spikes on the soles. Step-on ones usually also have spikes or tines and require you to push them down into the ground with your foot. Both options are good for small to medium-sized yards.
  • Towing aerators: A type of manual aerator, these can be attached to the back of a lawn mower or pushed by hand. They’re ideal for larger yards. Most are either core or spike aerators, but there are also slicing variants. Some models can fertilize the ground at the same time.
  • Electric aerators: These models are usually more expensive than manual ones, but they can handle larger projects, making them great for avid landscapers. Most can also dethatch the yard.

When you should aerate your yard

The best time to aerate a yard is right before the grass starts growing. For warm-season grasses that grow in the south, aerate from late spring to the beginning of summer. For cool-season grasses or if you live in a northern region, do the process at the start of spring or fall. Avoid aerating in the middle of summer or winter, or when the grass is dormant.

Most lawns, especially those with a lot of foot traffic or clay soil, benefit from yearly aeration. If you have loose or sandy soil, you can aerate the lawn once every two to three years. Also, if you notice a buildup of thatch or water puddles in the yard, it might be time to aerate.

8 best lawn aerators

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

This tow core aerator has 32 galvanized knives that can dig 3 inches deep, making it ideal for larger yards with heavily compacted soil. It easily attaches to the back of a lawn mower or tractor and has a weight tray capable of holding up to 140 pounds to make aeration even easier.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Brinly SAT2-40BH-P Tow-Behind Spike Aerator

Brinly SAT2-40BH-P Tow-Behind Spike Aerator

This tow-behind aerator has 11 tine stars, each with 12 spike tips that can pierce up to 2 inches deep. The tines consist of galvanized steel, which helps prevent rust, corrosion and bending, regardless of how compact the soil is. It also comes with a weight tray that can hold up to 150 pounds for extra penetration.

Sold by Amazon

Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator

Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator

Perfect for smaller yards, this manual core aerator can reach into the soil and pull up 3.5-inch cores. It’s made with durable steel and is resistant to rust and bending. It also has a cushioned grip to make the process more comfortable for the user. It comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Sold by Amazon

Ames Steel Spike Aerator

Ames Steel Spike Aerator

This one-piece spike aerator consists of steel and can handle even the toughest of yards. It’s small, easy to use and is designed to limit strain on your back while using it. It can create holes up to 4 inches deep.

Sold by Home Depot

Opmeiro Lawn Aerator Shoes

Opmeiro Lawn Aerator Shoes

These lawn aerator shoes come with 13 spikes, each of which is 2 inches long and can easily attach to your regular boots. They come in adjustable sizes and work well on hard, compacted soil and small rocks.

Sold by Amazon

Plantnomics Lawn Aerator Shoes with Hook-and-Loop Straps

Plantnomics Lawn Aerator Shoes with Hook-and-Loop Straps

With adjustable straps and a total of 26 spikes, these lawn aerator shoes can attach to your footwear with ease. They use hook-and-loop fasteners to create a firm fit that doesn’t slip while aerating the yard. They can also handle up to 220 pounds.

Sold by Amazon

Rosgel Lawn Aerator Shoes

Rosgel Lawn Aerator Shoes

With 13 metal spikes on each one, these shoes can pierce up to 2 inches of compact soil with ease. They have adjustable nylon straps that can fit around most shoe sizes. They’re also adjustable and durable.

Sold by Amazon

Corona Max Yardbreather Aerator with Auto-Eject 3.5-Inch Soil Plugs

Corona Max Yardbreather Aerator with Auto-Eject 3.5-Inch Soil Plugs

This manual aerator auto-ejects 3.5-inch plugs of soil with ease. It comes with a slip-resistant footplate and comfortable grip handles for extra stability and support. Both the spikes and footplate are heat-treated, making them long-lasting.

Sold by Home Depot

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

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