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Last updated on January 24th, 2021
When was the last time you aerated your lawn? If the answer is “never” or “last season”, or you went blank when you read the word, this may be why your grass does not have the lushness that all your time, effort and loving lawn care should result in. Aeration and its companion, scarifiying, are two basic gardening tasks that make a huge difference to the look and feel of your lawn.
Aerators, both manual and powered, which we review here, are garden tools that come in various types that create holes in the lawn to let moisture and nutrients down into the soil and to the grass roots. This promotes healthier grass blade growth and strong, deep root systems. Aerating your lawn can rescue grass that looks as if it’s on the way out.
Our Best Lawn Aerator review looks at a wide range of lawn aerators, from hand tools through shoes you wear to mower-like machines. We present the pros and cons of each model and discuss their best features. Our Buyer’s Guide goes into depth about each type of aerator and how to choose between them, along with a few other considerations that influence your purchasing decision.
Our Best Pick is the Greenkey Rolling Lawn Aerator. This aerator is built to a high quality and has a wide 30cm roller with 30 tough spikes to make 5cm deep holes in your lawn. Your grass will receive the water and nutrients it needs to become healthy and strong.
Lawn Aerator Comparison Table
Below is a comparison table where you can compare the best aerators to see how the specifications stack-up
The best lawn aerators for a healthy lawn which we review are listed below:
- Greenkey 30cm Rolling Lawn Aerator – BEST PICK
- Billy Goat AE401H Lawn Aerator – BEST PETROL AERATOR
- AL-KO Comfort 38E Combi-Care 2 in 1 Scarifier/Aerator – BEST ELECTRIC AERATOR
- Yaheetech Heavy Duty Garden Lawn Aerator
- ZDTech Lawn Aerator Shoes
- Kingfisher Professional Pro Gold Lawn Aerator
- Garland Heavy Duty Hollow Tine Lawn Aerator
Best For Professional Gardeners
The Billy Goat AE401H Lawn Aerator is equipped with a powerful Honda engine and therefore you can expect optimal performance with each use. The fact that the aerator is motorised and it has a wide cutting width makes it perfect for long sessions of commercial use. You can cover large areas easily without breaking a sweat.
This is a heavyweight lawn aerator that will serve you for decades if it is well maintained. If you need a reliable machine that can withstand everyday use, then you cannot go wrong with this model.
Best Hallow Tine Aerator Model
Top 7 Lawn Aerator Reviews
1. Greenkey 30cm Rolling Lawn Aerator
The Greenkey Rolling Lawn Aerator is affordable and very effective at aerating lawns. At 30cm, it’s not as wide as the similar Yaheetech aerator we review further down, but it has longer spikes and is slightly better in terms of quality. This Greenkey roller lawn aerator is lightweight and so you don’t need as much force to roll it, especially in soft soil areas.
The spikes that are responsible for making the holes in the ground are durable and strong. They’re are made from rust-free material (unknown but probably stainless steel) so it’s easy to wipe them down The 30 spikes are spread out across the 30cm width.
The spikes go down about 5cm into the ground, which is an effective depth for water and nutrients to reach the grass’ root system. The ergonomic T-handle lets you comfortably and efficiently steer the unit in the required direction without straining your muscles.
This aerator weighs around 2.8 Kg. This model is a little tricky to assemble, even if you follow the instructions. You also need a few tools of your own, despite the ones included with your purchase.
- High quality product that is designed to last.
- Offers a wide aerator surface to cover more ground faster.
- It has 30 spikes to ensure aeration of the soil is effective using the long and very strong 5cm inch spikes.
- It is lightweight and simple to steer, specially in soft soils.
- Features an ergonomic T-handle for manageable steering.
- Need tools for assembly.
Thoughts and recommendations
The Greenkey Rolling Lawn Aerator is the model to invest in if you’re looking for something a little better than a basic model. The length of the spikes are just about the right length at 5cm, and it is wide enough to let in air and water effectively without messing up the aesthetic appeal of your lawn. It is not an inexpensive aerator, but that being said its not really that expensive for a good garden tool and with good care, it can serve for many years to come. The main downside with this model, which seems common with most roller type models, is that it takes a while to build and the tools included at not the best.
If you’re looking for an aerator that has all the features and a better build quality than most others, and don’t have to stick to a strict budget, then the Greenkey Rolling Lawn Aerator is worth your consideration.
2. AL-KO Comfort 38E Combi-Care 2 in 1 Scarifier/Aerator
The AL-KO Comfort 38E Combi-Care 2 in 1 Scarifier/Aerator, despite its name, actually has three functions. This 1300W electric machine does scarify and aerate, but it also has a 55L bag catcher which collects the thatch, moss and other plant bits you pick up when scarifying your lawn.
We include this multi-functional unit in our Best Aerator review as, if you have a great deal of lawn thatch on your grass (especially in spring), you need to remove this barrier before you aerate your lawn. We do have a separate review for scarifiers but you may prefer the convenience of this all-in-one machine.
This basis of this unit is the scarifier and the bag collector. The aerator is a cassette that you swap in without the need for tools. The scarifier has 14 steel blades to pick up the organic material from between the grass and the soil. The aerator has 24 steel tines that create the holes into the ground for the subsequent water, nutrients and oxygen to reach the grass roots.
We’ve mentioned that the collection bag holds an impressive 55L of organic matter. However, online reviewers report that the bag fills up fast when you clean the lawn for the first time after winter but this the case with all scarifier type machine with collectors atatched. There’s nothing to be done about this except resign yourself to making multiple trips to the compost heap to empty the bag or to picking up the scarified matter left on the lawn after you’ve finished the process.
- Electric scarifier with three-in-one functions of scarifying, aerating and grass catching for a one-stop lawn care machine.
- 1300W motor provides enough power to groom a small to medium lawn, especially in spring.
- Working width is a generous 38cm for fewer passes across the grass.
- Scarifier has 14 steel blades and there’s 24 steel tines in the aerator roller.
- Change to the aerator roller easily without the need for tool.
- Large 55-litre grass collection box won’t see you running to the compost heap often with the thatch, moss and plant bits.
- Single dial control lets you adjust to one of the five depth selections.
- Height adjustable handlebar reduces strain and stress on your muscles.
- No soft start.
Thoughts and recommendations
The AL-KO Comfort 38E Combi-Care 2 in 1 Scarifier/Aerator allows you to scarify your lawn in a separate process before you aerate it. Removing the lawn thatch that stands as a barrier between the grass and the soil lets the spikes on the aerator roller go fully down into the ground. This combo model has a 38cm working width with 24 steel spikes on the aerator. This lets you aerate a small to medium lawn in good time.
If you prefer to remove the lawn thatch before you create the aeration holes, this is the scarifier/aerator combo for you.
3. Billy Goat AE401H Self Propelled Lawn Aerator
Best for professional use
The Billy Goat AE401H Lawn Aerator features a 118cc 4.0hp Honda engine that is designed to offer high performance making it a great choice for professional gardeners and lawn maintenance people. The powerful and more importantly, reliable engine drives the 24 drum tines that penetrate the soil to create holes for ventilation and nutrient absorption which is essential for a healthy lawn.
The tines are strong and they remain sturdy even on hard soil. This lawn aerator is designed for the most demanding and hard jobs that domestic models are not up to. The lawn aerator is self-propelled, and so you won’t use a lot of energy pushing it from one end of the lawn to the next. It has a working width of 48cm which is wider than many simple lawn aerators offer. This wide working width enables this aerating machine to cover a wide area of 2,000m2 per hour. This is the size aerator you need if you have a large lawn or plan to aerate several lawns in one day.
A 23-litre water tank sets this professional aerator apart from domestic models. The weight of the water in the tank applies the right amount of pressure to the tines. This is so that the tines can sink to the right depth for good aeration. The water tank is considered a better option than the heavy steel weights that have been used in the past.
The Billy Goat AE401H aerator has features for your comfort and convenience. The Lift N Lock mechanism allows you to lift the tines with one simple movement. The Tilt-up and Fold-n-Go features permit easy servicing and transportation between locations which is essential for gardeners on the move. This lawn aerator weighs a hefty 110kg and that is why the outboard drive wheels come in handy. The semi-pneumatic wheels offer great traction and balance while the machine is in motion. As it’s self-propelled, it’s also easy to drive the aerator up a ramp into the back of a van.
- Features a reliable 118cc 4.0hp Honda engine to power through large lawns.
- Comes with 24 sharp tines to penetrate different kinds of soil.
- A working width of 48cm for fast and wide coverage.
- A water tank provides the right amount of pressure to the tines.
- Offers a Lift N Lock™ mechanism and a Fold-n-Go™ feature for ease of use.
- It has outboard drive wheels for easy manoeuvrability.
- Comes with a 1-year warranty for professional use.
- Quite costly.
Thoughts and recommendations
The Billy Goat AE401H Self Propelled Lawn Aerator is great if you do not want to work with manual aerators. It comes with a capable 4.0hp engine that works consistently and efficiently. The tines featured on this model are durable and are easily replaced once they wear out. Changing the tines is straightforward as the machine has a single bolt to unwind to disengage the tines.
We love that the Billy Goat AE401H Lawn Aerator has a wide working width and therefore the work can get done faster. For those who have medium to large lawns, this lawn aerator will be of great service. If you are looking for a durable motorised lawn aerator for regular use and you don’t mind the price, this is our choice, especially if you’re a professional gardener or lawn maintenance professional.
4. Yaheetech Heavy Duty Garden Lawn Aerator
The Yaheetech Heavy Duty Rolling Garden Lawn Aerator with its three-piece steel handle is simple to use, efficient and, best of all, very affordable. It is simple to assemble due to its structure and pictorial instructions. Featuring a handle, spike roller and wheels, the aerator is very manageable to push along, especially on soft or damp lawns. Online reviewers report that it’s best to wait to aerate hard lawns until after it has rained but this is true of all manual aerators so that its easier to penetrate the lawn.
It’s lightweight at 3.1kg and it is a little larger than some basic models. The working width is 36cm, which is 6cm wider than similar models we look at. This is more than enough to cover the aeration needs of an average lawn. The very sharp spikes are 3.5cm (1.4″) long and that’s deep enough to penetrate into the lawn. The holes created are large enough to allow adequate water and oxygen to pass through.
The unique thing about this unit is that you can take the handle apart in order to make storage easier. The three-pieces of the handle just click together and the height of the unit is 131cm from the bottom of the wheels to the top of the handle. In general, the handle is well made so it’s hard for any edges to snag your skin. Spare parts are available if you ever need them.
- Wide 36cm aerating width and 3.5cm spikes cover an average size lawn quickly.
- Lightweight thus easier to push but heavy enough to help penetrate the lawn.
- Thick sharp spikes so as to make sizeable indentations in the lawn.
- The handle can be dismantled to make storage easier.
- It is easy to assemble and use.
- Very affordable, offering excellent value for money.
- Can be more difficult to use on hard lawns.
- Only adequate build quality.
Thoughts and recommendations
The Yaheetech Heavy Duty Rolling Lawn Aerator is a good choice if your soil is compacted and you need to get some water and nutrients back into the lawn in for a healthier lawn. We love the handle since it can be dismantled to provide organised storage in space limited areas. Overall, the build quality is adequate. It’s certainly built well enough to do the job, though not as well as more expensive models. This Yaheetech aerator does require some assembly but that’s just a matter of clicking the three sections of the handle together.
We like the Yaheetech Heavy Duty Rolling Lawn Aerator for its affordability and its deep and heavy spikes. If you have an average size lawn and relatively soft soil, this is a good choice for your aerator.
5. ZDTech Lawn Aerator Shoes
The ZDTech Lawn Aerator Shoes are for those gardeners who want to develop, or already have, strong leg muscles. These shoes are a one-size-fits-all-type aerator sandal, and are the best ones we found among the many types available. The sandal is made from (unknown) durable material and seem well built, with very online reviewers having negative comments about them.
The straps are well woven so as to secure your boot to the aerator shoe. The metal buckles cinch the straps tightly to really hold your foot in place. The foot as it moves and they are a really good fit. Each sandal has three straps and the metal buckles are a step up form the usual fasteners made of plastic which are easily breakable.
Each sandal holds 12 spikes that are fastened through holes in the sandal plate. The spikes are 5cm long, producing holes in your lawn to a good depth for reaching the grass roots. Different soil textures give different results but the spikes sink easier into soft soil. This also means that you don’t have to press down so much in looser soil. You really get a workout if you aerate grass that’s growing on harder packed soil.
Wear closed-toed shoes with a strong sole when you’re using these aerator shoes. This is to protect your feet in the case you trip or a spike gets loose and starts pressing up. Always double-check that the spikes are inserted into the shoe correctly before you start the aeration process. These sandals are the perfect way to do light fertilisation or maintenance of a small lawn. It is also a great workout!
- Perfect for aerating small lawns while exercising by walking on the lawn.
- Well-woven straps that are secured with metal fasteners keep your feet securely in the shoe.
- The heavy sole is able to handle the pressure applied by the spikes and the user’s weight.
- Features enough spikes to make the most impact in one motion.
- One size fits all design.
- Lightweight, so they’re not too heavy for your legs to lift them up.
- Buckles a little difficult to fasten.
- Only really useful for small lawns.
- Assembly is fiddly and takes some time.
Thoughts and recommendations
The ZDTech Lawn Aerator Shoes are very affordable but using them seems to take some practice and some flair. The idea is great though, but assembly is a bit tricky. You have to be patient to fix every individual screw and fit the sandal with your regular shoe on. This aerator shoe is well made and more durable than other we looked at. Other than needing patience, the sandal is easy to use in soft soil. On hard soil, you will have to apply more pressure and you may get tired more easily.
If you need a simple pair of aerator sandals for your soft soil then this model is our choice.
6. Kingfisher Professional Pro Gold Lawn Aerator
Best Hollow Tine aerator
The Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator is an extremely simple manual tool to aerate your lawn. This aerator removes cores of soil rather than punching holes into the lawn. It’s made of durable steel that is resistant to weather damage and will last for many years if maintained properly. The material is strong enough to withstand the impact of being forced into the ground yet is still fairly lightweight .
The Kingfisher aerator is a simple aerator fork that consists of five 6-inch tapered tines. You use your foot to drive into the ground just like you do with your regular garden fork. In some kinds of soil, especially clay, the deeper you go, the more effort you need to wiggle the fork out. Keeping the fork tines clean as you go helps to reduce this problem.
This aerator fork weighs 1.94kg and measures 4.4 x 30 x 92.5cm. Unlike the roller types of aerators in this review, it comes already assembled. You just unpack it and you’re ready to go. It has a small footprint making it easy to store and maintain. This is a great way to aerate small lawns as it doesn’t take too much effort to use.
- Ideal for professional use as is well made and can withstand heavy use if needed.
- Great for small to medium lawns or as long as your energy and leg power last.
- Lightweight and easy to use.
- Features deeply tapered 15cm tines to penetrate far into the soil.
- Ergonomic grip on the handle for your comfort when gripping it.
- Inexpensive so it won’t break your lawn care budget.
- Difficult to dig into clay and compacted soil.
- Can be a slow process, specially on larger gardens.
Thoughts and recommendations
The Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator is a simple solution for those who don’t need an elaborate aerator. By removing cores of soil rather than making holes in the lawn, it opens up larger routes down to the grass roots for water and nutrients to flow. This aerator fork works best on soft, loose and sandy soil and when the lawn is wet. Although it’s of a high enough quality for professional use, aerating a large lawn with this takes a great deal of energy and muscle power.
If you have a small area of lawn to aerate or want to fill in the gaps that you miss with the aerator on your garden tractor, the Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator is what you need.
7. Garland Heavy Duty Hollow Tine Lawn Aerator
The Garland Heavy Duty Hollow Tine Lawn Aerator is a manual aerator fork and an alternative to the Kingfisher Professional Pro Gold Lawn Aerator in this review. The Garland model has steel four tines that are wider than the five tines on the Kingfisher model and so take larger soil cores from the ground. This leaves bigger holes which you may or may not want, depending on your lawn care regime.
The tines are constructed of stainless steel. Stainless steel is durable and rust proof, and works well digging through wet lawns. The tines aren’t tapered which makes it difficult to push the fork into soil that isn’t soft or loose. Online reviewers report that it’s very difficult to use this fork on harder soil.
The Garland aerator fork has a T-shaped handle, which is ergonomically designed to evenly spread the pressure you need to apply to dig the fork into the ground. This saves your shoulders and arms from unnecessary stress.
The aerator fork weighs 1.85kg and measures 90cm x 30cm x 3cm. It’s lightweight and easy to carry to your work site. Storage also won’t be a problem.
- Made of stainless steel, therefore, more durable.
- Features four sizeable tines that dig deep into the ground.
- It is lightweight, therefore easy to use and store.
- Comes with a T-handle for better maneuverability.
- Tines tend to get clogged up.
- Tines aren’t tapered.
Thoughts and recommendations
The Garland Heavy Duty Hollow Tine Lawn Aerator works well on soft soil but not so much on hard soil. Due to the tines not being tapered, it’s hard to drive the aerator into hard soil. The handle is very comfortable to use and suits those who have upper-body problems.
If you have a small lawn on sandy or loose soil, and need an aerator that’s easy to push down on, take a look at this one.
Lawn aerators are not complicated garden tools. Their basic function is to make holes in your lawn (in a controlled way!) or to remove cores from the soil under the grass. Either way, this creates a passage down to the root of the grass blades allowing moisture and nutrients to get deep down and feed the root system.
This Buyer’s Guide leads you through how to decide which aerator is best for your lawn.
The first information to gather is the type of soil your lawn is growing in. Hard soil is harder to penetrate and therefore needs stronger blades. Clay soil is softer and therefore may need longer blades for a successful aeration process.
Size of your Lawn
Let’s be practical. If you have a large lawn, it will take you days to aerate with a manual rolling aerating tool and especially an aerating fork. What you need is something with a motor so that you don’t have to do all the hard work. Even if you have a small lawn but it consists mainly of hard, compacted soil, you will have a hard time doing it by hand. So again, a powered aerator is your best friend.
On the other hand, a manual rolling lawn aerator is suitable for small to medium lawns or grass that’s growing in sandy or loose soil. If you’re fortunate enough to have a lawn tractor with an aerating attachment, then a aerating fork, or even the aerating shoes, may be enough to fill in the gaps that your tractor misses.
Consider the size of the lawn and the amount of energy you are willing and able to use. If you need intensive aeration, look for machines with hollowed tines that take out soil cores rather than make holes in the lawn. Remember most electric and petrol aerators are sold as lawn scarifiers as they so both aerating and scarifying.
Look for ergonomic aspects to the design of the aerator, especially in the handle. These considerations not only make the aerating process more comfortable for you but also reduce the stress and strain on your muscles and limbs.
The finish on the model should be smooth so as to avoid you getting blisters. The handle has to be well positioned so that you do not struggle to get leverage. A T-shaped handle evenly distributes the pressure you apply and is the most strain-free design. If the aerator has wheels, their quality is important to the overall durability of the product. They should be tough and evenly positioned on the aerator unit.
Types of aerators
Now you’re ready to consider what type of aerator is best for the work you need to do. Here are your main choices.
Roller spike aerators
These look a little like push lawnmowers and are the most popular style of aerator. Choose from a manual model or a powered one – either electric or petrol. If you need something very easy to move along, then an electric self-propelling unit is the best for you.
These models have spikes arranged around a roller with a shaft and a steering handle positioned (and attached) above that. Roller aerators are best for soft soil conditions or damp soil as they can struggle to penetrate hard lawn, especially if it’s very dry. Manual and electric roller aerators are usually relatively lightweight, though the engine on the petrol versions makes them heavier.
These have become very popular and are a creative way for you to aerate your lawn regularly without causing any damage. They are just as you imagine – shoes that are fitted with spikes that you walk over your lawn in. They’re not actually full shoes, more shoes bases through which the spikes fit and which you strap on to your own flat garden shoes.
Depending on the style of aerator shoes, the spikes may be detachable from the aerator shoes for separate storage. As all the power for this type of aerator comes from the downward thrust of your leg muscles to drive the spikes into the soil, you may want to look at other options to aerate firmly compacted soil or to cover a large lawn.
Hollow tine aerators
In general, most styles of hollow form aerators look like garden forks but perhaps with a few more tines. They work in the same way as well. You put your foot on the horizontal bar across the tines and press them into the ground.
What’s different though is that these tines are hollow – they remove small cores of soil from the lawn. This produces better aeration holes that just the straight spikes of roller aerators. You don’t have to remove the columns of soil from within the tines; they’re pressed up and out of them when you dig the fork back into the ground.
These aerators are easy to use and can reach areas that the larger roller aerators can’t. They’re also great on clay, hard or compacted soil, unlike most of the other aerator types (except electric powered models).
A downside though is that you’re left with little piles of soil cores over your lawn. You can collect them up (but this takes time) or just leave them there to break down over time which usually doesnt do you lawn any harm but can look insightly.
Scarifiers / aerators
We mention scarifiers here although, technically, this is a different garden machine. Scarifiers remove the lawn thatch and moss from your lawn – that’s the organic matter that tends to pile up between the grass blades and the soil and forms a barrier between the two. If it’s a thick layer, water and oxygen have a hard time getting down to the grass roots, even if you aerate the lawn. Removing the thatch, either before you aerate or while you’re aerating, is a good idea. Many scarifiers come with an aerator attachment that you swap into the unit after you’ve scarified the grass. We have such a model in our review. For your purchase, you receive a two-in-one combo garden care machine.
What’s the difference between scarification and aeration?
Scarification and aeration are both tasks for lawn care.
Scarifying is the removal of thatch and moss from your lawn. Thatch is the build-up of organic material such as old grass stems and leaves that may have blown there in autumn. It sits between the healthy grass and the soil, forming a barrier. Bacteria in the soil digest this organic material into nutrients for the grass; anything not digested remains in a layer on the top. This thatch stops moisture, oxygen, carbon dioxide and nutrients from reaching the grass roots.
Aeration is the process of punching hundreds of small, fairly deep (about 5cm) holes into your lawn, or removing small cores of soil. This is to let water, oxygen and nutrients reach down to the grass root system to keep it healthy and strong. If you apply a lawn dressing, this can then be brushed into the holes.
Why do I need to aerate my lawn?
Aerating your lawn creates channels to allow water, oxygen and nutrients to reach down to the grass root system so your lawn becomes healthier.
Here are some signs that your lawn needs aerating:
- you have a lawn with bare patches or dry spots
- your lawn is growing in clay soil
- you want to reseed your lawn and want the best germination rate
- parts of your lawn are water-logged and you want the water to run off somewhere
- you plan to weed and feed your lawn
- people and animals are frequently playing on your lawn and compacting the soil.
Our Final Conclusion
The models we review here are primarily manual lawn aerators. For a powered unit, see our Top Scarifier Review which also features aerator-compatible models.
Lawns generally flourish if given the right care and attention at the right time. Use an aerator to do regular maintenance before applying lawn sand or lawn weed and feed in autumn and spring. Electric aerators are better at facilitating large-scale aeration but manual models give you more control over what happens to your lawn. Just make sure that the spikes are sharp enough to pierce the ground and the handles are comfortable and ergonomic.
The Greenkey 30cm Rolling Lawn Aerator is our Best Pick for Lawn Aerator. This is a durable manual model and relatively easy to assemble. The T-shaped handle is comfortable to use and distributes the pressure you apply evenly. The tines are long and sharp and make short work of aerating a lawn of loose and damp soil.
Our choice for best aerator for Professional Use is the Billy Goat AE401H Self Propelled Lawn Aerator. This self-propelled electric powered aerator takes all the effort out of aerating your lawn, even if the soil is hard and compacted.
The best Hollow Tine aerator in our review is the Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator. It’s very simple to use – just like a garden fork – and removes soil cores from the ground to let water, oxygen and nutrients go down to the roots of the grass blades.
Last update on 2021-01-24 at 10:24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API