Best Lawn Aerators

Best Lawn Aerators

As you may already know aerating is a very important job and should be carried out regularly if you want to keep your lawn healthy throughout the year, especially for us in the UK. But which is the best lawn aerator for you? There are many to choose from and all are built with a particular type of garden in mind. To help you decide I’ve outlined the different types below and explained who they’re best suited to.

Types of Aerators

Best Lawn AeratorsHand/Manual Aerators 

These types of aerators are best suited to those with small gardens as they do require a bit of manual work but are well worth it because they are cheaper than machines or rollers. You can either use a normal garden pitch fork or hollow tine pitch fork to make the holes, with the pitch fork you’ll get little spikes in the ground whereas with the hollow tines you’ll dig up plugs of turf. Hollow tines will open up the soil much more effectively so if your soil is heavily compacted or if you want to do a more thorough job then better going with that.

The idea is to push the fork into the ground at a depth of about 3-4 inches so that air, water and nutrients can reach the very bottom of the grass roots. If you want to make the holes slightly bigger with the pitch fork then you can rock back and forward when removing it from the ground. You want to space out your spikings about 6 inches apart from each other and repeat the process over the entire lawn, or just over the area in need. But in saying that they don’t need to be perfect, anywhere between 6-9 inches is fine.

Make sure you carry this out when the soil is moist as it will be very difficult to do when the soil is really dry and ineffective when it’s waterlogged.

These types of aerators are best suited to those with small gardens that won’t take too much effort to complete.

Best Lawn AeratorsLawn Aerator Shoes

Like above, these are best for the small garden as they do require quite a bit of manual work. Similar to the pitch fork, they have spikes placed underneath that pierce the ground while you walk across it. All you do is strap them to your shoes, please wear boots, and walk over the area that needs work, they might not be as effective as hollow tines but they are very easy to use. Just remember you need to use a gentle stomping motion instead of your normal walk to get the spikes to properly penetrate the ground.

Even though the penetration isn’t that deep it will still help the surface drain water and get some air and nutrients to the grass roots. But probably the best things about lawn aerator shoes is that you very dense spike pattern, which gives you a thorough aeration, and you can carry out another lawn care activity at the same time, like spraying weeds or apply a fertiliser.

So this type of aerator is best for those again with small gardens, willing to do some manual work but also want to make full use of their time.

Best Lawn AeratorsRolling Aerator 

This type of aerator makes for quick operation which makes it ideal for a larger lawn. It can come in two forms: fixed spikes or spring loaded spikes, which one you choose depends on your preference and how easy you find it during use. With it you just push it up and down your lawn in a similar pattern you would with a manual lawn mower, you won’t get as dense spikes as you would with aerator shoes but you can cover the lawn a second time if you want to be more thorough.

This model is best for those with quite big garden that have a few slopes, the previous models would not be able to cope as well with slopes as this one.

Best Lawn AeratorsMachine Aerators 

Again there are two variances to this model: walk behind aerators that are designed for small to medium sized gardens and ride on aerators that are designed for large gardens and fields. These should only really be used in extreme cases or if you have a really large area to cover, they do come at a higher cost than the other models above but they are extremely effective.

Both model come with hollow tines so you’ll be digging up plugs of soil instead of just spiking, which promotes more effective aeration, this is why I recommend them for more extreme cases and why you see the ride-ons use on golf courses and other sporting fields. Just remember when using a walk behind not actually walk behind the aerator as you’ll crush the plugs into the soil when you walk on them.

So if you have an area to aerate that is over 500m² and the level of soil compaction or water-logging is quite extreme then I recommend you choose this model – they expensive and you’re unlikely to use them on a regular basis so I would hire them instead of purchasing.


If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other content, like my robomower reviews? If so then head over to my Robot Lawn Mower Review Page, I’ve reviewed various models all designed for different purposes so if you’re in the market there won’t be a better place to go than here!

4 Comments on “Best Lawn Aerators”

  1. Lawn aerating is very important! I have seen extremely unhealthy grass do a 180 flip after getting aerated. I also love all the different tools that you provide for the different purposes. Some of them I didn’t know even existed! Very informative post. When I decide to purchase, I know exactly what to get per my specific need.

    1. Great to hear Ellen! Yes it’s very important and I’m not surprised that you’ve seen such dramatic effects on unhealthy lawns, that’s just how powerful aeration is!

  2. Thanks for the info. I had always used the power aerator and thought that was the only way. However, you give us up who don’t want to plunk down the money to rent or buy one of these things.

    I really like the shoes, because you can benefit from your weight and know that the spikes will get maximum depth (not a good reason to be overweight).

    It seems like you wouldn’t be able to get enough weight behind the roller aerator and as a result, you are more or less just pushing it around the lawn.

    1. Glad to be of help Warren! Actually if you hold the roller correctly it can be very effective, just check out the video at the bottom of the post to find out how 😉

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