8 Best Lawn Aerators in 2024

Lawn aerators can turn a dying lawn into a thriving one. Learn about how aerators work and shop our top recommendations.

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Updated on April 12, 2024

Our Top Picks for Lawn Aerators

If the grass on your lawn isn’t growing — whether it’s one problem area or the whole thing — and you’ve been watering it or have received sufficient rain this summer, you might need a simple tool to help it flourish. The best lawn aerators can help your soil drain properly, allowing it to finally get the water and nutrients it needs to support the growth of new grass. An aerator works by punching holes, generally a few inches deep, into the soil in order to loosen it and provide opportunities for the roots to grow deeper, which will help it become tougher and more durable in instances of drought, as well.

I spoke to Portia Cozzolino, owner of the landscaping, greenhouse and gardening business Mike’s Hothouse in Modena, New York. She noted why some consumers could need a lawn aerator: “Soil can become compacted over time for different reasons, perhaps you had heavy foot traffic or clay soil. In either case, using a lawn aerator would be beneficial to help the new grass seed create a healthy root system and thrive along the patio. The same method can help a patchy lawn which might have a thatch buildup.” If this sounds like your lawn, we’ve rounded up some of the best options for that very job.

What to Look for in a Lawn Aerator

It’s important to understand if a lawn aerator will work for the type of issue you have. Generally, it’s not made for soil that’s already incredibly dry — like in desert climates — but rather for soil that has had thriving and beautiful grass on it at one point. You also need to consider what time of year you use a lawn aerator: If the soil is already stressed, like in the summer or winter time when it doesn’t grow that well to begin with, aerating is likely not going to work. However, Cozzolino notes: “If you desire a thick lush lawn, plan on trying this in the fall, and at the same time, fertilize, re-seed (if necessary) and water. This should help existing roots grow stronger and allow any new grass seed applied to thrive.” The start of fall and spring are generally the best times to try aerating your lawn.

Additionally, you’ll need to figure out what kind of lawn aerator will work best for your soil. While there are a few different models of lawn aerators — like those that can be connected to tractors or used manually — the largest specification to consider is the type of tines the aerator has. There are two types of tines: A spike aerator pokes small holes into the soil without removing them, and is generally best for soil that’s lightly compacted or for small lawns. Core aerators, however, feature hollow tines that completely remove small plugs of soil from the ground. This is best for larger lawns or areas that are deeply compacted.

Finally, there are a few tips to remember once you’ve purchased the best lawn aerator for you. You should always aerate your lawn when it’s not too dry or too wet: The ideal time to aerate is about one day after rainfall. Once you’re done aerating, you can immediately fertilize or plant grass seed on the soil. And finally, you want to aerate your lawn once every few years to keep it as healthy as possible. If you have heavily impacted soil, you might need to do it annually. Shop our top picks for lawn aerators below.

How We Picked

For this article, we spoke to an expert landscaper to understand what consumers might benefit from a lawn aerator; and what kinds of aerators are available to meet the various needs of those consumers. Then, we looked at a variety of options online, keeping in mind a range of price points, popular retailers, positive consumer reviews and lawn needs. We then narrowed those products down to unique categories that will fit a number of different needs.

What We Like
  1. Will fit most tractor models
  2. Can tackle a large lawn fairly quickly
What We Don't Like
  1. Harder to get up hills because of how deep the tines go

This plug aerator from Agri-Fab has a universal hitch that ensures it will latch onto any tractor, regardless of brand or model. It features 32 galvanized steel hollow tines, perfect for lawns that are incredibly compacted. The tines will aerate the ground two inches deep.

What We Like
  1. Foldable for easier storage
  2. Flat-free tires don't need air
What We Don't Like
  1. Initial assembly is time-consuming

Lawn aerators that are made for tractors typically have a weight tray that allows users to add cinder blocks or other heavy objects on top for deeper penetration. This one from Agri Fab has the option to add an additional 100 pounds. There are 10 galvanized spike discs, which can penetrate as deep as 2.5 inches. It also features a folding hitch for easier storage.

What We Like
  1. Affordable option
  2. Great for small lawns or troubleshooting smaller areas
  3. Longer spikes at 3.5 inches will really aerate
What We Don't Like
  1. Manual might not be the best choice for those with mobility issues
  2. Tackling a whole lawn will be time-consuming

A manual spike aerator is the best option for a small area of lawn that's not incredibly impacted, as it does require some elbow grease. This one has four spikes that can go 3.5 inches deep into the ground. It's rust-resistant stainless steel and features a sturdy rubberized grip to prevent slipping. It's 38 inches tall as well, so users won't have to strain their backs to do the job.

What We Like
  1. Comes with both hollow and spike tines
  2. Great for managing tighter areas like corners or around mailboxes
  3. Hollow tines are great to prep for a drought
What We Don't Like
  1. Not that much cheaper than electric options
  2. Will require some muscle strength

Perfect for smaller areas that have been deeply impacted, this manual plug lawn aerator has three tines that will completely remove the soil with its hollow construction. Use it when you suspect a patch on your lawn needs deeper roots in order to survive drought or other weather issues. It's powder-coated steel, too.

What We Like
  1. 20 blades and a 16" clearing path will make quick work of lawn aeration
  2. Does two lawn tasks: aeration and dethatching
What We Don't Like
  1. For those that don't need a dethatcher, this won't be a useful purchase

This multipurpose machine is not for those who have severe patches of grass that won't grow on their lawn: Truth be told, this one functions better as a lawn maintenance tool. It has two heads: a dethatcher and a scarifier. The dethatcher is there to remove thatch, small debris and dead grass from the yard. This will all go into the included and detachable collection bag. However, the scarifying head removes build-up while aerating the lawn, which should help if you're looking to do some fertilizing in the early spring or fall. It's a good tool for someone who has a nice lawn but wants to keep it maintained and looking lush.

What We Like
  1. It's lightweight and easy to push
  2. Electric and doesn't need gas
  3. Also has a dethatching option
What We Don't Like
  1. It has a smaller aeration path than some other options: 15 inches

This is the perfect option for smaller or mid-sized lawns that need thicker lawn growth. Because it's electric, it's incredibly easy to use, too. It has 24 spiked tines to penetrate the lawn up to .4 inches, with five depth options, too. And you won't need gas or oil for this, either.

$99.99 $50
50% Off
What We Like
  1. Although it's manual, it can be pushed along the lawn to tackle larger areas
  2. Has five spikes, which is more than other manual options
What We Don't Like
  1. Out of all the manual options, because it's a push aerator, it's going to require the most strength

This rolling lawn aerator has five circular spike wheels that are 7 inches long to give you 2.5 inches of possible penetration. It also has an area to place a cinder block for deeper lawn aerating. However, this one would be best for a smaller area since it's harder to push.

What We Like
  1. Fun way to aerate that's easy to do
  2. Perfect for those that need to do light, consistent maintenance
What We Don't Like
  1. Only comes in one size, so may not fit small or large shoe sizes perfectly
  2. If the lawn is even slightly wet, it can pull out chunks of dirt and grass

This pick is likely the most fun option on the list. Just strap these spikes on your boots with the Velcro and begin to walk around — voila, instant lawn aeration! They have 2.1-inch spikes and are a fine pick for small areas and lawn maintenance. Use these if you're experiencing grass that's not flourishing as much as the year before but you aren't sure you're ready to splurge on a more expensive model.

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