If you’re wondering what is lawn aerator, here’s a quick explanation. It is a tool for making holes in the soil to promote grass growth.
They improve soil drainage and encourage the growth of worms and microfauna. Ultimately, they benefit your lawn and the health of your family, pets, and plants.
And they’re incredibly inexpensive, so you’ll never have to buy another one again!
An aerator works by loosening up the soil, which improves drainage and prevents thatch buildup.
It also provides nutrient-rich water to the roots, which are often deprived of this vital food.
Poor grass growth may result from nutrient deficiencies, and compacted soil can lead to water puddles and brown patches.
Those with heavy foot traffic or pets should also consider aeration.
When using an aerator, make sure to sharpen the tines so they can penetrate the soil. A dull blade is a hindrance to a lush lawn.
Sharpening the blades with a bastard file will help you get the most out of your aerator. Store your aerator in a dry place, such as a garden tool shed to protect it. Oil your aerator before storing it in the winter.
When To Aerate Your Lawn
Ideally, aerating your lawn will take place in the spring and fall, which are the most favorable times for grass growth.
As the seasons change, the soil becomes increasingly moist, and aeration encourages the roots of the lawn to take advantage of these conditions.
Aeration is the best way to prevent lawn damage and increase its health. If you’re unsure of when to aerate your lawn, consult a professional for advice.
Aeration is the simple process of punching multiple small holes in the ground so more nutrients sink in.
What Aeration Does
By opening up the soil to more air, water and nutrients, you encourage the roots of your grass to grow deeper.
In turn, the roots access precious underground nutrients and water they might not otherwise have received.
Any lawn can benefit from aeration, and it’s a good idea to aerate once a year if your soil tends to compact easily, as is the case with clay-based soil.
People with sand-based soil may find that aeration once every two years is sufficient.
Here are some telltale signs that a lawn needs aeration:
Although aeration is a healthy practice, it could damage your lawn if you were to do it at the wrong time. Do not aerate grass that is dormant.
Instead, wait until its growing season. The best time to aerate is during or right before growth season is at its peak.
The sort of grass you have and the climate where you reside will determine this.
In cooler climates where bluegrass and ryegrass are prevalent, early spring and early fall are good times to aerate.
This allows the grass to fertilize in the winter, thus boosting growth in the spring and summer. Late spring to early summer is usually the best time in warmer climates.
Manual lawn aerators require physical labor and are best for smaller yards. On the plus side, they cost little and don’t require much storage space.
Some manual aerators come in shoe form to make the work even more accessible. One of our favorites is a pair of lawn aerator shoes by Abco Tech.
Each sandal has 13 spikes that penetrate the ground with every step you take, delivering fresh air and nutrients to the soil and grass.
The sandals fit over regular shoes, and each has three adjustable buckle straps to ensure a good fit.
Consider a handheld lawn aerator if you prefer a more hands-on approach.
These tools look like pitchforks. (In fact, if you have a small lawn and prefer not to purchase an aerator, a pitchfork can be used to aerate your lawn.)
We recommend the Yard Butler Lawn Spike Aerator, an inexpensive and compact tool with a lifetime warranty.
An attachable aerator, also called a “pull-behind” aerator, is a wheeled apparatus that can be affixed to a riding lawn mower or regular lawn mower.
If you’re looking for a powerhouse pull-behind aerator, we suggest the Drum Spike Aerator by Titan Distributors.
It’s large and expensive but mighty, with a whopping 78 spike punctures per rotation.
You can fill the spike drum with water, sand, or another material to increase the pressure the spikes put on your soil.
If you’d prefer a budget-priced pull-behind aerator, consider a lighter-weight option like the 40-inch Spike Aerator from Brinly.
A dethatcher is not necessarily an aerator but dethatching and aerating often go hand-in-hand in preparing the soil to accept nutrients.
“Thatch” is the dead grass layer that sometimes forms on lawns, inhibiting the reception of water, sunlight, and other nutrients.
An electric dethatcher is a machine with vertical blades that slashes through the debris on top of your lawn, making it easier to rake away.
Some electric dethatchers also aerate, which is why we’re mentioning them here.
For example, Earthwise makes a corded dethatcher that performs double duty, clearing debris and piercing the earth with tines for aeration.
If you’re intrigued by the possibility of purchasing a dethatcher that also aerates, check the specs first to ensure it performs both functions.
The type of aeration achieved by a pair of aerating sandals or a manual lawn aerator is spike aeration because actual spikes are driven into the ground.
This is a highly effective form of aeration but is quite labor intensive. Plug aeration is a viable alternative if you’d prefer not to build up too much of a sweat.
Plug aeration differs from spike aeration in that, instead of stabbing the ground repeatedly by hand, you pull a rotating tool with hollow steel spikes across the lawn.
Some plug aerators can be attached to a riding lawn mower or ATV and effortlessly driven across the lawn.
In case you have a large yard, you may prefer this to manually punch holes. One of our favorite plug aerators is the towable Brinley Plug Aerator,
which removes plugs of soil up to 3 inches long and has a tray that can be weighed down with extra poundage if you want even more force behind it.
Once you have determined the right time of year to aerate your lawn and have secured your chosen equipment, it’s time to get to work.
Here are a few final tips for successful lawn aeration:
Runoff occurs before enough water is applied to compacted soils, making them difficult to water.
The only lawns that need aeration are those that are compacted. Lawns especially susceptible should be aerated annually.