Our Helpful Guide to the Best Lawn Aerators

Our recommendation for the best lawn aerator is Brinly Tow Behind Plug Aerator for large areas and the Garden Weasel Core Aerator for small spaces. Aerating your lawn can rejuvenate a yard that has suffered the ill effects of compacted soils that restrict turf growth. Not only will it improve its appearance, but aeration will also improve your lawn’s health and make it more resistant to weeds and other pests. Continue reading for our recommendations and tips for making your lawn look its best.

Our Picks for Best Lawn Aerators

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Lawn Maintenance

It’s tempting to think that all you need to do to take care of your lawn is to mow it regularly. That task just scratches the surface of what it takes to create a lush, weed-free lawn. Lawn maintenance involves more routine tasks simply because of all the traffic it experiences. Humans, pets, and other wheeled traffic can compact the soil over time and compromise the long-term health of your lawn.

What Is Aerating?

Aerating is the process of loosening compacted soils. You can use a core aerator which removes small plugs of soil. A spike aerator simply creates holes in the soil but leaves it intact without any soil removal. You can aerate your soil manually with a machine or an attachment to a riding mower.

Other options include a push-style device, not unlike a push lawnmower. For smaller lawns, you can use a hand tool that does the same thing as the larger machines. There are even lawn aerator shoes in which you aerate your lawn by walking around on it with spiked footwear. The difference lies in the scale of the operation.

The Effects of Compacted Soil

Aerating becomes necessary because of foot and wheel traffic on your lawn. It becomes a problem because of the concentration of high-traffic areas. You may be able to spot these areas where the grass is flattened or thinned. There may be areas of exposed soil where it is especially well traveled.

It doesn’t take a thick layer of compacted soil to cause problems. A small layer of as little as ¼ inch can interfere with gas exchange between the soil and the atmosphere as well as water penetration. These unfavorable conditions can start a cascade of issues including poor drainage and turfgrass stress which can set up your lawn for additional problems with pests and disease.

Benefits of Aerating Your Lawn

In addition to alleviating compacted soils, aeration improves penetration of water as well as fertilizers into your soil. Without water stress, your lawn is better able to resist weeds. Water can move down into the soil instead of sitting at the surface and creating conditions favorable to bacterial growth.

Another benefit concerns thatch. Without aerating, thatch can accumulate on the lawn surface. Like compacted soils, it impedes sunlight penetration to the soil surface. Plants need to reach certain temperatures for new growth to occur. Aerating prevents thatch accumulation and improves air circulation.

You can aerate your lawn once a year with the timing depending upon the type of grass you have. The degree of traffic will influence how often to aerate. Soil type will also come into play. Heavy clay soils will benefit from more frequent aerating that looser soils, especially those in low-traffic areas.

This video by explains the process of aerating your lawn in detail and shows why aerating is such a great way to improve the health of your lawn.

Choosing a Lawn Aerator

Perhaps your main consideration for choosing a lawn aerator is the size of the area. If you have a large lawn, an attachment to your rider mower is a smart choice. With smaller lawns, a manual lawn aerator is more appropriate to give you better control. The next thing to consider is the type of lawn aerator.

A core aerator offers a more effective option than a spike model. A core aerator leaves visible openings into the soil and pulls plugs of soil to the surface. It is more efficient at reversing compacted soils than smaller ones because of the larger openings. You needn’t remove the plugs. Over time, they will decompose.

A spike aerator puts small pencil-sized holes into the ground whether you are using a mechanical one or a hand tool. The problem is that they can easily become filled in with traffic on your lawn. The spikes themselves compact the soil and don’t aerate it at all.

Our Recommendation: Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator and the Garden Weasel Core Aerator

Aerating your lawn is essential for water to penetrate deep into the soil and reach the roots. You should aerate your lawn in either the spring or fall if you have cool season grasses. For warm season grasses, you should plan on aerating in late spring and summer. However, you may need to aerate more frequently in high-traffic areas.

The Brinly Tow Behind Plug Aerator creates 3-inch plugs with its 24 steel plug spoons, making it an appropriate size for the average lawn. If you have clay soils or heavily compacted ground, the steel tray supports up to 150 lbs to penetrate these tough conditions. Since it attaches to your existing riding mower, it is a cost-effective solution to get the job done.

If you have a smaller lawn, the Garden Weasel Core Aerator offers a way to get the benefit of a core aerator in a limited space. It works like larger models, creating 3-inch plugs like larger tow-behind models. It works best when used when soils are moist since you’re the one putting the weight behind the tool.

Compacted soils starve your lawn of vital nutrients and water. Aerating your soils improves their permeability so your lawn can get what it needs to thrive. And with the plethora of options available, you can perform this essential maintenance whether you have a small yard or a sprawling lawn.

Photo by Guipozjim licensed under CC BY 3.0

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