The 8 Best Lawn Aerators 2020 – Get Better Grass Drainage

Many homeowners dream of having the perfect lawn – the kind of surface that would make a golf club groundskeeper jealous.

Yet, in spite of trying just about everything, that perfect, healthy, lush-green turf still seems to be elusive.

There’s a good chance that aeration has been overlooked – which is basically poking holes in your lawn’s soil to allow water, oxygen, and nutrients to circulate.

We’ve already covered how often you should aerate your lawn – so check out that link for more detailed information about the process.

But what kind of tool do you use for the task? Well, look no further, as we explore the best lawn aerators on the market in 2020.

Keep reading for a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to answer any further quandaries or queries you might have.

Because aerating could be the difference between a good lawn and a great one.

The 8 Best Lawn Aerators 2020

Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes

Let’s get started with a pair of these lawn aerator shoes which seem to have flooded the market in recent years. This version from Ohuhu is one of the best versions, thanks to a new design that makes them super-easy to wear and start aerating in no time at all.

The one-size-fits-all sandals have hook and loop Velcro straps that are easy to wrap and secure around your existing footwear, with an anti-slip surface to ensure that the device stays in place while in use.

The two-inch spikes are tough and durable, and at this price point, it’s an option you should really consider for small to moderate-sized lawns. Aside from this, they’re actually a lot of fun to use.

Pros

  • Durable plastic construction.
  • Anti-corrosion.
  • Easy to use right out of the box.
  • Adjustable.

Cons

  • Some might find them tricky to get the hang of.
  • They can take more effort than you realize.

Conclusion

The best lawn aerator shoes available, these aerators are easy-to-use, ideal if you’re on a budget, and can result in an entertaining and yet useful afternoon plodding around your yard. They’re not for everyone though – and if you’ve got weak ankles I would encourage you to look elsewhere.

True Temper 4-Tine Spading Digging Fork

Many gardeners opt for simply using a digging fork to aerate their lawns, so I’ve included this highly-rated model from True Temper. It features a forged spading forkhead with four, diamond pointed steel tines for maximum durability and soil penetration.

There’s a 30-inch hardwood shaft, at the top of which you’ll find a poly D-grip that offers the best leverage, comfort and control. Designed for digging, turning, and aerating even the toughest soil, this is a quality garden fork that contains True Temper’s 212 years of garden tool know-how.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Name to trust.
  • Versatile tool.
  • Premium construction.

Cons

  • Not a dedicated aerator.
  • Can be repetitive, backbreaking work.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a solid, multi-function gardening fork you can use as an aerator for a fraction of the cost of other options – you’ve come to the right place.

It’s perfect for a quick-fix if your lawn isn’t that big, and you should also check out these excellent lawnmowers for smaller yards if you’re maintaining a modest plot.

Agri-Fab 45-0365 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator

Here we have the first of our push/walk-behind aerators, which is of the spiked variety (walk behind core aerators are few and far between – if they exist at all).

This model is 16-inches wide, with five rotating wheels that each feature seven-inch spikes for up to 2.5-inches of aeration depth. There’s a steel tray that holds a concrete block should you wish to weigh the tool down and achieve maximum depth as you wheel across your lawn.

Ideal for smaller lawns or hard to reach places in larger gardens, this heavy-duty aerator can take up to 35 lbs of additional weight to pressure the galvanized steel spikes deep into the ground.

Pros

  • Durable construction.
  • Easy-to-use.
  • Welded drawbar.

Cons

  • It can be very tough work.
  • Needs a breeze block or other heavyweight.

Conclusion

If you don’t mind getting a good workout, this is a decent walk-behind tool that is easy to operate. It’s probably the best lawn aerator for the money. Top tip – it might be easier to pull rather than push, and adjust the weight until it’s comfortable for you.

Goplus 18-inch Rolling Lawn Aerator

Following up is another rotary push aerator – also of the spiked variety. This is a roller-style tool with a single handle that is made from durable steel.

The diameter is six inches, while the length of the handle runs to 50 – which has been specially designed to make the task easier and take less time. The shaft is wrapped with a rubberized grip for comfort and control, and it will work in any type of soil conditions with three rows of multiple steel spikes puncturing holes in your lawn.

There’s no need to use any extra weight, and it’s very easy to assemble right out of the box.

Pros

  • Strong and durable.
  • Simple to use.
  • Nothing else required to operate.

Cons

  • Depending on the conditions – it might not be heavy enough.
  • It’s still a real effort to use.

Conclusion

A rotary aerator that will do a good job at poking holes in your lawn – but you might need to add some extra weight if your soil is a little too compact.

LawnStar Liquid Soil Aerator

Now for something completely different. To give you an alternative option, I’ve included this liquid lawn aerator which sure beats hard labor. Applied by using a tank or hose sprayer, this compound loosens the soil and increases water uptake and drainage, as well as conditioning the soil as it seeps in.

Ideal for people with larger gardens, it can treat up to 120,000 square feet of land – which will certainly save you from a lot of backbreaking work. And as it’s environmentally friendly, you’ve no need to worry about children, plants or pets with the non-toxic formula. Easily the best alternative lawn aeration method on the market today.

Pros

  • Ultra-concentrated.
  • Effortless to use.
  • Large coverage.
  • Highly rated.
  • Liquid fertilizer is also available in the range.

Cons

  • Additional spray applicator required.
  • Not useful for immediate seeding or overseeding.

Conclusion

If you balk at manual labor – this product ticks all the boxes while still breaking up and conditioning the soil to prepare it for fertilizing. But bear in mind that any seeding should be done a month after application – so that process will take longer than a core or spike aerator.

Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator Version 3

This is possibly the best walk-behind core aerator on the market (perhaps because it’s one of the few – given the nature of the task). It works using a move and step system, with four, clog-resistant tines with sharpened edges lifting soil plugs out of the earth. They have been case-hardened for extra durability, and are designed to be used by an operator between 4”-6.5” tall, and weighing no more than 150 lbs. The unit can also double as a garden trolley for shifting heavy loads, and it’s ideal for use in smaller yards or in areas that are hard to reach by a motorized machine.

Pros

  • Durable construction.
  • Easy to use.
  • Soil core container included.
  • Replaceable tines.

Cons

  • Slow process.
  • Not suitable for everyone.

Conclusion

An excellent plug aerator that is preferable to using a digging fork and is straightforward to use while producing excellent results. As it provides core aeration, it’s probably the best manual aerator out there. It’s still a bit of an effort, though.

VonHaus Electric Lawn Dethatcher Scarifier and Aerator

Now we come to our one and only electric aerator, which is actually a two-in-one machine that also dethatches – so you’re getting more bang for your buck here. The aerator is of the spiked variety, and you simply switch out the drums depending on what you need to use the unit for.

Powered with a 12.5 Amp motor, it offers a 15-inch working width that is suitable for small to mid-sized lawns. There are five adjustable heights, with a 45-liter collection box to collect any surface material when you dethatch.

As dethatching is often part of the aeration and overseeding process, this is the best electric lawn aerator available. The folding design is easy to store and transport, too.

Pros

  • Two-in-one design.
  • Safety start.
  • Easy to use and assemble.
  • Minimal effort required.

Cons

  • It’s not a dedicated aerator.
  • Tines are on the shallow side.

Conclusion

Having electric or gas-powered tools to help us with our work is a real advantage, so there are obvious plus points here. It’s just a shame it’s not a core aerator, but it should still get the job done with a dethatcher thrown in for good measure.

Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

For larger yards, we turn to tow-behind aerators, and this model is a 40-inch machine that features 24 heat-treated, 12-gauge steel tines that penetrate compact soil and can remove up to three inches of earth.

Each plugging spoon has been designed to be narrower than usual tines, with sharp tips to allow successful operation while carrying less weight. However, should you feel the need to add some extra muscle to sink the tines in, there is a weight tray included that will hold an extra 150 lbs.

A single pin hitch system ensures that it will attach to most garden tractors and ATVs with ease, and the simple assembly means you’ll be ready to go as soon as the conditions allow.

Pros

  • Highly rated.
  • Solid construction.
  • Never-flat tires.
  • Universal hitch.

Cons

  • You need something to tow it with.
  • Expensive.

Conclusion

Providing you have a garden tractor or an ATV, then this is an excellent core aerator option and you’ll get the job done in double-quick time with minimal effort. And if you’ve got a garden large enough to use one of these, then perhaps you should check out these awesome riding lawnmowers, too.

Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Lawn Aerator

Soil Aeration

Below you’ll find an in-depth guide on what to look out for or consider before purchasing an aerator. An FAQ section will follow.

Size of Lawn

Lawn aerators come in all shapes and sizes and are used in a variety of ways and techniques (outlined below).

Which one you choose will largely depend on the size of the land you wish to aerate.

If you have a smaller yard, you might not need much more than a manual aerator.

But if you’re lucky enough to have a yard large enough for one of these awesome zero-turn lawnmowers, then you should probably choose a tow aerator.

And bear in mind you won’t see any industrial/commercial/professional aerators here – they’re far too expensive and overkill for most residential use.

Spike or Plug Aerators?

Aerators operate by using either a spike or a plug system.

A spike aerator offers exactly that – a number of spikes that are used to poke holes in the lawn or top surface.

They’re ideal as a quick, temporary solution to poor irrigation and useful for seeding purposes, and they can be used on most lawn types and in any conditions.

Plug aerators (sometimes called core aerators) work by actually removing a small plug of soil from your lawn, and then depositing it on the surface.

This can have numerous advantages. It’s ideal for clay-heavy soil that’s tightly compacted, where a spike aerator will be all but useless.

The soil plugs should be left to decompose and fertilize the lawn, and it’s a very effective method for seeding/overseeding.

However, you’ll find that plug aerators are more time-consuming, and they need a specific set of conditions to be most effective and not ruin your lawn.

Also, some people don’t like the aesthetic of nuggets of soil left on their lawn surface – they look a lot like animal droppings.

Type/Application

Aerators come in a variety of types depending on their application.

There are products that you strap to your feet to aerate your lawn as you walk over it – using your own body weight to sink the tines or spikes deep into the terrain.

Manual, hand-operated aerators are available that you use by walking over your land and physically digging them into the soil.

Electric models are also on the market – with the machines usually combining an aerator with a dethatcher or another useful gardening tool.

Liquid aerators have been developed, and they offer an excellent alternative to mechanical devices or other tools. Applied with garden sprayers, they break down the soil and improve drainage, while having a huge advantage when it comes to using the least effort.

Tow-behind aerators are best for folks with larger areas to cover (and if you have something to tow it with in the first place).

Finally, industrial aerators are available – and while they’re probably the best lawn aerator machines, they’re outrageously expensive, they weigh a ton, and are superfluous for most people who just wish to improve the irrigation of their yard a couple of times a year.

Cost

And speaking of expense, the price of aerators can vary significantly depending on the type.

Once you’ve figured out which one you need, you should be in a better place to understand what sort of ballpark figure you might be paying for the tool.

However, I will say this – remember that we’re talking about a job that doesn’t need to be done very often (depending on your soil type, region, and garden aspirations).

That alone is worth bearing in mind before you part with big money.

FAQs

Lawn aeration shoes

Which is better – a plug or spike aerator?

The consensus is that plug/core aerators are better.

This is particularly true if you have clay-heavy soil that can become seriously compacted. A spike tool or machine isn’t going to be nearly as successful.

If you think about what you’re trying to achieve, a spike aerator does create holes in your lawn, but it also compacts soil around the initial entry point – which can defeat the whole purpose.

On the other hand, plug aerators actually remove soil and create holes, which will allow the earth to breathe and expand – filling those holes back up over time – and by the very action not continuing to pack the earth down.

Having said that, spike aerators have their place – especially if your soil is already somewhat loose, or you need a temporary solution.

They’re also great for preparing your lawn for overseeding.

Plug aerators require specific conditions to be successful, and they can be stressful to your lawn. A real mess can be made if it’s done at the wrong time.

Should I pick up plugs after aerating?

You can if you want to – many people believe that the biggest disadvantage of core aeration is the unsightly plugs that it leaves behind.

However, it’s only going to create more work for you to remove them – and you’ll just be taking away good soil.

Leave them where they are, and they will naturally breakdown and help to fertilize your lawn.

What should I put on my lawn after aerating?

First, as mentioned above, leave the plugs alone if you’ve used a core aerator.

Next, you need to overseed your lawn. Make sure you choose the correct seeds for the type of grass you currently have, or you can feel free to mix it up or change the species over time.

If you’re starting fresh, you should choose a grass that will thrive in your location. Check out the ever-informative Scotts website for more information on identifying your grass.

If the clouds are not due to open, water your lawn thoroughly. You need to do this every day until the seeds germinate. The seeds need to be kept wet, without over-saturation.

For that, it might be a good idea you treat yourself to a new hose reel cart.

It is recommended you don’t mow the lawn until you’ve allowed plenty of time for new growth.

After a few days, apply a starter fertilizer that will provide essential nutrients right where the lawn needs it. Your new seeds should have had the chance to become established.

For more information and some great advice for the whole process of overseeding and rescuing your lawn, check out the video below.

Is there a bad time to aerate your lawn?

Yes. Never aerate your lawn when it’s been raining heavily, or it’s generally too wet – you’ll just turn it into the grounds of a music festival after a thunderstorm.

Also, the summer isn’t a good time as the turf is likely to already be stressed with hot weather.

Can I mow my lawn after aeration?

It is recommended that you wait at least a week before mowing your lawn after aeration and overseeding.

Remember that you want to protect the new seeds as much as possible, so if you go hacking at the lawn right away you’ll do the opposite.

Give the new growth time before you mow – and make sure that when you do, your blades are sharp and you spend as little time as possible on the lawn.

Here’s a great resource for lawnmower blade sharpeners – if your edge has been dulled.

How long should you wait to mow your lawn after aeration?

As long as possible – but sometimes this isn’t an option depending on the type of grass.

As mentioned above, you should wait for about a week at the very least. But with most grass species taking between 10 and 14 days to germinate, you really shouldn’t be touching it for a while.

However, don’t wait until the grass is so high that it’s crowding out your new growth and preventing sunlight from reaching it.

Play it by ear (or sight), but when in doubt you can ask a lawn care professional for their opinion.

Can I use a tiller to aerate my lawn?

No. A tiller is designed to turn the soil while an aerator punches holes in it.

If you use a tiller on your lawn you will either break your tiller, destroy your lawn, or possibly both.

However, it is possible to buy aeration attachments for certain tillers – so check with the manufacturer to see if this is an option.

What is the best month to aerate my lawn?

If you have cool season grasses, the best time to aerate your lawn is in the fall. For warm season grasses, you should be looking at late spring.

Should I seed right after aerating?

It is recommended that you seed within a day or two of aerating. If you’ve taken the trouble to aerate your lawn in the first place, you don’t want to waste this opportunity.

This is why liquid aerators are not ideal for the seeding process.

Of course, you don’t need to seed at all if you simply want to improve the drainage and overall health of your lawn.

Should I aerate or dethatch first?

You need to dethatch before you aerate or you risk pushing unwanted surface material deeper into your lawn.

For an at-a-glance guide, the process is as follows –

  1. Mowing.
  2. Dethatching.
  3. Watering (until moist but not soaking, and only if it’s already too dry).
  4. Aerating.
  5. Overseed/seeding.
  6. Watering.
  7. Fertilizing.

Remember though – it’s not as simple as that – and you will need to pay attention at each stage so you know when, where, and how to achieve the most beautiful lawn in the neighborhood.

Should I rent an aerator?

Many people decide that renting an aerator is the way to go – but why bother doing that when you could have your own?

Granted, it’s not going to be a $4,000 industrial-class model, but it will still do the same job, albeit take a little longer.

And if you’ve got a large enough yard, a tow-behind aerator is every bit as good.

Don’t forget if you’re going this once a year, the cost of renting will soon add up – and hiring a professional to simply poke holes in your lawn is going to be even more expensive.

I say if you’re perfectly capable of doing it – you should do it yourself.

The exercise will do you good.

Summary

Lawn aeration is key to a healthy and happy lawn, ensuring that it has proper irrigation, while allowing oxygen and nutrients to do their work.

I hope this article has gone some way to helping you find the best lawn aerator for you and your needs.

As I have a moderate-sized yard, I’d be leaning towards trying a liquid aerator – but if I was to try overseeding, I’d probably choose the step-on core aerator and give myself a work-out in the process.

Let me know which aerator you would choose and why.

I wish you the best of luck in turning your lawn into the green of any 18th.