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 fertiliser 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 recognising 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 one set of boot-spikes and two electric powered machines.
Best Lawn Aerators
Greenkey Lawn Aerating Sandals
These strap-on sandals feature thirteen 2-inch spikes on each sole. The base is manufactured from recycled plastic and the spikes are stainless steel screw-in nails. The sandals are delivered needing assembly but will fit over most adult boots with bindings at the heel and over the toe. 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 IM-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 rubberised 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.
Coopers of Stortford Aerator
Coopers of Stortford’s Aerator is a low-cost, ‘push machine’ with three spiked bars mounted between knurled plastic wheels. Each bar has four spikes and the shipper calculates the machine will create 184 holes per square metre. The distance between the wheels is approximately 18 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. It is delivered requiring some assembly.
Popamazing 36cm wide Manual Lawn Aerator
The Popamazing machine is a rolling lawn aerator with four spiked bars arranged between the two driving wheels. Each bar is 36cm wide and fitted with four 3.5cm spikes that perforate the lawn’s surface as the machine is pushed forward. The metal ‘broom handle’ extends to 1.33 metres above the ground and can be disassembled into three pieces for easy storage.
Like other rolling aerators, this unit will be most effective on soft ground but reviews are generally favourable and ease-of-operation may mean that it is used more frequently than more complicated tools. It is an inexpensive but reasonably robust machine with cast metal parts in the rotating drum, that is delivered needing assembly.
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 10 metre 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.
Cobra Electric Scarifier-Aerator
Cobra is a brand name of Henton and Chattell Ltd. based in Nottingham, selling a wide range of gardening machines to homeowners and landscapers through appointed stockists and online. The Cobra Scarifier-Aerator is another electrically powered, ‘two-for-the price-of-one machine’. It is delivered with interchangeable rollers: one fitted with 36 tines, the other with twelve blades.
The roller height and depth of penetration is adjusted by a four-stop lever situated between the left-hand front wheel and the casing. The handle is assembled with wing-head bolts that can be loosened, allowing the handle to be folded down for easy storage. The machine is powered by a 1300 watt motor and is supplied with a 10 metre mains cord. The pricing is toward the lower-end of powered aerators but this machine has a compact, robust design and comes with a two-year Cobra warranty.