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8 Best Lawn Aerators and How To Aerate Lawn

A thick and healthy lawn can greatly increase the beauty of a home, church, park or public areas. However, achieving an elegant look on your lawn isn’t easy!

Grass needs irrigation, regular trimming, and fertilizer to keep it looking great. But even with all this hard work you may find that it’s just not looking as good as it should. This is because it’s missing one key ingredient – aeration.

Aerating a lawn helps it grow thick and healthy. Read our guide on how to aerate a lawn – and the best lawn aerators to buy for your yard.

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Best Lawn Aerators and How To Aerate Lawn

Best Lawn Aerators for 2021

Why Aerate Your Lawn?

how to aerate lawn

Aeration is a process of creating small holes in the soil. This releases the compaction that occurs over time (especially in high-traffic areas) and makes it easier for the roots to access the air, water and nutrients grass needs to grow.

When the soil is compacted, grass growth is stunted because the roots can’t get through the hard soil. This also makes the soil more resistant to moisture and more challenging for fertilizer to penetrate.

So, even if you are doing everything else right, your lawn may not be getting the benefits of your care.

What Areas of Lawn Benefits from Aeration?

Playground Spaces

If your lawn is often used as a playground, then you’ll likely start to see the grass start to die off even if you are watering it well. That’s because the repeated foot traffic not only wears the grass down but compacts the soil.

Play areas will usually need more aeration more frequently to keep the grass healthy.

Construction Sites

During a construction process, the topsoil is often covered by contrition materials such as cement, building sand and displaced soil that compacts the ground below.

Heavy foot traffic and equipment/materials will also quickly compact the ground, making it impossible for grass to grow. To restore a construction site and get your lawn growing again, you’ll need to loosen the soil well.

This can be done with a lawn aerator or, in more severe cases, a cultivator or tiller.

Eroded Spaces

Erosion can be caused by wind, high traffic, or water. It removes the softer, nutrient-rich layer of topsoil and leaves behind a hardened layer of soil that grass and plants won’t grow easily on.

Areas of erosion need to be dealt with quickly because they can expand and worsen rapidly, especially in more extreme climates.

To restore the ground, you’ll need to aerate the area well, mix in plenty of nutritious compost, and overseed to promote strong, healthy grass. Don't miss our guide on how to make compost for your garden.

Established Lawns

Lawns that have been in place for many years can start to become compacted over time. While it may have looked healthy a few years ago, you’ll see that without aeration, each season it becomes a little more patchy and poor, especially where you park vehicles, where your kids play, or where your pets run.

To keep the lawn a uniform, healthy green carpet, it’s important to aerate it well once a year to keep the soil spongy, absorbent and circulating fresh air.

Signs That Your Lawn Needs Aeration

when to aerate lawn

Not sure if your lawn needs to be aerated? Look for these signs:

  • Long-lasting puddles – If water pools on the surface of your soil or lawn after you water or it rains, then the ground below is likely compacted.

    This is especially common in soil types that contain more clay, as they become dense and sticky rather than letting the water penetrate deep into the ground.
  • Dry or bare patches – If your grass is looking worn and dry in patches, especially where there is more traffic, it’s likely that the soil has become too compacted for the grass to grow.

    The grass is then dying off because water, nutrients, and air can’t get down to the roots.
  • Poor growth – If you are regularly irrigating and fertilizing your lawn and just not seeing results, then it may be because the water and nutrients are being washed off the surface of the lawn rather than soaking down to where the roots can reach it.

    In these conditions, the grass may look stunted or pale/yellow.

When Is the Best Time to Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn?

You can aerate your lawn at any time of the year, but you’ll get the best results if you do so in the early spring, just as your lawn starts its main growth period.

This will ensure that grass growth is maximized during this time, and it makes healthy growing space for new seeds if you are overseeding your lawn to help it recover.

It also means that any unsightly patches or dirt from the aeration process are quickly hidden by fresh, new growth. Ideally, you should aerate your lawn once again in the early fall, especially if you have clay soil.

Types of Lawn Aerators

There are a few different tools you can use to aerate your lawn, each with their pros and cons.

Hand Held Aerators 

These can be claw-shaped, small garden forks, or longer pole forks. The longer forks are much easier on your back and give you good leverage while you work, but all these manual options take some effort to use so they aren’t recommended for larger lawns.

Tow Behind Aerators

These connect onto a ride-on mower or garden tractor, cutting into the ground with tines or blades as you drive. They are much easier to use on larger jobs and often can be used for seeding or fertilizing your lawn as well.

Can I Aerate My Lawn by Hand?

Can I Aerate My Lawn by Hand

You can aerate your lawn by hand using a garden fork, aerator boots, or a hand aerator, but this is only really suitable for very small areas.

It’s very labor intensive, but it’s an easy way to improve small dead patches of lawn or loosen soil in a flower bed. If the soil is quite hard, it’s a good idea to wet it thoroughly to help make it easier to work with.

Best Lawn Aeration Tool Reviews

Gardzen Spike Aeration Heavy Duty Aerator has a quality steel construction and is powder-coated to make it rust-resistant

If you are looking for a manual aerator that does more than one job, this is a great option to consider. In addition to aerating your lawn, it can be used for cultivating, mixing in compost, and weeding.


The steel tines are adjustable for the different jobs, and the tool digs into the ground by twisting the handle, so there’s no strain on your back.


The handle is comfortable to use, and it comes fully assembled, so you can get to work right away.

Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro Manual Aerator can be used for cultivating, mixing in compost, and weeding

Pros

  • Multi-use – aerator/weeder/cultivator
  • No assembly required
  • No back strain
  • Easy and comfortable operation
  • Durable steel build quality

Cons

  • Manual
  • More expensive than other manual options

Bear Paws Cultivator Claw

This is a cheap and cheerful solution for aerating small patches of lawn or flower bed. Durable, ergonomic, lightweight, and easy to use, these handheld claws help you weed, aerate, and loosen soil without getting your hands too dirty.


Made in the USA, they are built to last and easy to clean.

Bear Paws Cultivator Claw is a cheap and cheerful solution for aerating small patches of lawn or flower bed

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Weed, aerate, or loosen soil
  • Made in the USA
  • Small handheld tool

Cons

  • Not suited to bigger jobs
  • Manual

Agri-Fab 45-0543 100 lb. Tow Behind Aerator

This is a great 3-in-1 tow-behind yard accessory that is used for aerating the lawn using 8 galvanized steel spikes, seeding the lawn evenly, and spreading fertilizer.


It has a rust-proof hopper, a 32-inch working width, and 10-inch puncture-proof tires.


This tool makes lawn maintenance easy, aerating, feeding, and seeding your lawn quickly and evenly. It can cover 40,000 square feet in one fill.

Agri-Fab 45-0543 100 lb. Tow Behind Aerator 2

Pros

  • Good value
  • 3-in-1 spiker/seeder/spreader
  • Rustproof
  • 10-inch puncture-proof tires

Cons

  • Requires riding mower or tractor
  • Expensive

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

This tow-behind lawn aerator is a great option if you have a ride-on mower or tractor, allowing you to revitalise large areas of ground quickly and easily without breaking a sweat.


Using 32 galvanized steel knives, the machine digs plug 3 inches into the ground, making it ideal for lawns. It’s solid tires make it stable and easy to move, and the transport handle makes it easy to bring in and out of the shed. It also comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator is a great option if you have a ride-on mower or tractor

Pros

  • Tow-behind – no manual labor
  • 32 galvanized steel blades
  • Made in the USA
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Requires a ride-on mower or tractor
  • Expensive

Gardzen Spike Aeration Heavy Duty Aerator

This multi-spike aerator fork has four sharp steel spikes that dig into the lawn without removing plugs, which does less damage to grass.


It has a quality steel construction and is powder-coated to make it rust-resistant. It’s easy to assemble, affordable, and built to last.

Gardzen Spike Aeration Heavy Duty Aerator has a quality steel construction and is powder-coated to make it rust-resistant

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Powder-coated steel construction
  • Easy to assemble
  • Spikes dig rather than removing plugs

Cons

  • Manual

Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes

Aerate your lawn just by walking with these strap-on aerator boots. The Velcro construction with hook and loop fasteners allows you to attach them to any work boots or sturdy shoes without having to worry about buckles and straps.


They have a lug boss on the sole to ensure the spikes stay locked safely in place, and it’s fully adjustable to any adult shoe size.

Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes is fully adjustable to any adult shoe size

Pros

  • Easy to fasten
  • Affordable
  • Anti-slip
  • Adjustable size
  • Comfortable for your back
  • Durable design

Cons

  • Can take some getting used to

Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator

This manual aerator uses two coring blades to remove lawn plugs easily and effectively, and the foot bar allows you to easily push the aerator deep into the ground.


It’s ergonomically designed for comfort, made from high grade steel that’s still quite light to carry, and doesn’t clog as you work to aerate your lawn or remove thatch.

Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator uses two coring blades to remove lawn plugs easily and effectively

Pros

  • Good value
  • Non-clogging
  • Digs deep
  • Sturdy

Cons

  • Manual
  • Removes plugs rather than spiking into the lawn

PLANTNOMICS Lawn Aerator Shoes

Snug fitting, durably made and easily adjustable, these aeration boots help you boost the health of your lawn while you work in your yard.


You can use them on lawn, flowerbeds, or areas where the soil has become compacted, with the steel spikes digging 3 inches deep into the soil without removing plugs.


This keeps your lawn neat and clean, prevents back strain, and improves the health of your soil.

PLANTNOMICS Lawn Aerator Shoes help you boost the health of your lawn while you work in your yard

Pros

  • Easy to fasten
  • Affordable
  • Anti-slip
  • Comfortable for your back
  • Durable design

Cons

  • Can take some getting used to

Best Lawn Aeration Tool for 2021

Lawn Aerator - Our Top Pick

Best Lawn Aerator for 2021
Gardzen Spike Aeration Heavy Duty Aerator has a quality steel construction and is powder-coated to make it rust-resistant

The best lawn aerator for our team is the Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro! It’s easy to work without straining your back, and even though it is a manual tool, it’s comfortable and lightweight to use.

In addition to aerating lawns and flowerbeds, it’s also great for weeding and cultivating, making it good value for money.

Best Value Lawn Aerator

Best Value Lawn Aerator for 2021
Bear Paws Cultivator Claw

Few things beat these basic Bear Paws Cultivator Claw for simple effectiveness! Made in the USA, they’re durable, practical, and take up no space at all in your garage or shed.

The claws are fun to use as well as effective for weeding and aerating, making them a great buy at an affordable price.

Best Premium Lawn Aerator

Premium Choice Lawn Aerator for 2021
Agri-Fab 45-0543 100 lb. Tow Behind Aerator

If you have a ride-on mower or a garden tractor, the Agri-Fab 45-0543 100 lb. Tow Spiker/Seeder/Spreader is our recommended choice – especially if you have a larger lawn that needs a lot of work.

In addition to aerating your lawn, it also has functionality for spreading fertilizer and seed, making it great for new lawns and lawn maintenance.

Get the Best Lawn Aerator for Your Garden

It’s no secret that a great lawn takes a lot of hard work and care, but simply aerating it once or twice a year in the spring and fall will make a world of difference.

This will help water soak in more effectively, allow roots to access fertilizer and air, and give grass the best environment in which to grow and thrive.

By following our advice and using the right lawn aerator for your grass, you’ll have a velvety, lush lawn in no time at all.

About the Author Pat Moreno

Pat is our gardening tool expert here at Sumo Gardener. Working for many years as a private and commercial landscaper, Pat has used almost every type of gardening tool there is. Along with a vast knowledge for types of plants and putting together an amazing looking and maintainable garden, Pat developed a passion for gardening tools as he found that using the right tools vastly improved the ease and outcome of any landscaping job he undertook. When spending hours, days or years using a particular tool, you want to make sure you’ve got the best one for the job, and Pat is the right guy to guide us to the best gardening tools.

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