Aeration is a necessary part of lawn maintenance, the primary purpose of which is to relieve soil compaction. It is best to undertake aeration in the early spring and autumn but it can be performed whenever the grass is actively growing and there is a perceived need. Spiking the top surface of the lawn promotes better absorption of water and improves the intake of fertilizer and nutrients. Additionally, helping oxygen into the soil can stimulate healthy root growth.
The method of aeration will depend on the size of the lawn, how much effort you want to put into it and the available budget. There are manual tools, such as spiked boots and push-powered spiked-rollers, and powered machines with petrol engines or electric motors. Since most gardeners will not aerate more than twice a year, our bias is to avoid the expense of a large, powered machine while recognizing that some lawns will simply be too big for a non-motorised solution. Homeowners might also investigate the opportunity of hiring a powered aerator before making a purchase.
We’ve investigated a wide range of aerators that are suitable for average households, including a set of boot-spikes and an electric powered machine.
Best Lawn Aerators
Osaava Lawn Aerator Sandals
These strap-on sandals feature thirteen 2-inch spikes on each sole. The base is manufactured from plastic and the spikes are heavy duty coated metal. The sandals are delivered fully assembled and fit over most adult boots with four straps to fasten them tight. Users need to walk carefully with a ‘stamping’ action to avoid stumbling and a walking stick may help with balance. There are obvious limitations to these shoes but they can be a cheap solution for small lawns.
Yard Butler M-7C Spike Aerator
The Yard Butler aerator is another low-cost, low-tech approach. Similar to a garden fork, the aerator is of steel construction with a foot-bar and four 3-inch spikes. The aerator is used with a digging action and the foot bar allows the gardener to use his weight to press the fork into the ground. This method can involve some hard work on larger lawns or hard ground but is more thorough than spiked sandals. The handle-bar is fitted with rubberized grips and the tool is 3 feet long. This spike aerator is another manual solution that requires effort but avoids the hassles of a powered machine.
Best Choice Rolling Lawn Aerator
This is a low-cost, ‘push machine’ with six spiked bars with five spikes each mounted between plastic wheels. The distance between the wheels is approximately 17 inches and the aerator stands about 4 feet high. Ideally, the ground should be softened by watering before use and we have some reservations regarding the length of the spikes and limited penetration, but this machine is certainly easier to use than sandals or a garden fork and will provide some benefit to most lawns.
Von Haus Corded Electric 1500 watt Aerator/Scarifier
This Von Haus machine is propelled by a powerful 1500 watt motor and is supplied with two interchangeable rollers: one fitted with spikes for aerating; the second equipped with blades for scarifying. A four-position lever mounted in the casing, inside the front wheel, is used to adjust the height of the rollers and the depth of penetration of the spikes or blades.
The handle can be adjusted to a comfortable height for the gardener and a trigger power-switch and safety button are mounted conveniently just below the crossbar. A 32-foot power lead is supplied with the machine which can be used with an extension cord for larger plots. The housing is plastic but the frame is metal and the parts are delivered requiring some assembly. A two-year warranty is given with a registered purchase. This is very competitively-priced, powered aerator that comes with the added bonus of an available scarifying function.