All 15 Lawn Aerators We Recommend
Best Plug Aerators
Looking for the best aerator for compact, hard soil? A plug aerator (also known as a core aerator) is the tool for the job. Using hollow tines, small thatches are removed from the soil to give the best aeration.
Best lawn aerator for: Large, compact lawns
Step ‘N Tilt
Best Spike Aerators
A spike aerator is a less invasive alternative to a core aerator. Giving short term results, a spike aerator doesn’t remove chunks of soil. Instead, it pokes holes to allow aeration.
Best lawn aerator for: Large, less compact lawns
Best Manual Lawn Aerators
Pull-behind aerators can be a little too bulky for small lawns. If this is the case, a manual aerator may be a better choice. With more control, you can be precise about where to aerate in a small area.
Best lawn aerator for: Small lawns
Yard Butler ID-6C
Abco Tech ABC2097
Best Aerator Spreaders
Do you want to aerate while spreading seed or fertilizer? An aerator spreader is a two-in-one tool that makes quick work of both jobs.
Best lawn aerator for: Spreading seed and fertilizer
Best Drum Aerators
Whereas regular tow-behind aerators work best on flat lawns, drum aerators are best for uneven turf. The large, round drum flattens the ground as it aerates, giving flat, oxygenated soil.
Best lawn aerator for: Uneven soil or lawn
Master Rancher YTL-008-061
Yard Tuff SE-40
Titan 36" Drum Aerator
Best Core Aerator
If you need to loosen compact soil and get rid of compaction for good, a plug aerator is the best tool. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the right one:
- Tow-behind aerator: For large areas, the best plug aerators are tow-behind. These can be hooked up to tractors, zero turn mowers or riding lawn mowers to make the aeration process much quicker.
- Manual push: For smaller areas, step and tilt core aerators offer a manual method.
- Weight Tray: These hold 15—175lbs to weigh down the aerator and get deeper soil penetration.
- Aerator knives: These are usually made with galvanized steel for longer life. The more knives, the quicker the aeration process on larger lawns.
Best Core Aerator Reviews of 2020
Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Behind Plug Aerator
Best for large lawns
With 32 knives and a large 42” trailer, this tow behind aerator is built for acres of land.
1 Agri-Fab 45-0299 Review
Are you looking for a heavy-duty pull-behind plug aerator for compact soil or a hard lawn? The Agri-Fab 45-0299 is our best in class choice. This tow-behind aerator has 32 galvanized knives and an overall width of 42”, making it good for large lawns.
The plugs penetrate up to 3” deep, giving a long-lasting aeration effect. And with a maximum load of 175lbs, it penetrates deep into even compact soil when towed behind a tractor or riding lawn mower.
For anyone with acres of land or even a golf course to take care of, the Agri-Fab 45-0299 is one of the best plug aerators on the market.
Brinly PA-40BH 40-Inch Tow Behind Plug Aerator
Best for mid-sized lawns
This smaller, lighter aerator still gives impressive results on mid-sized lawns.
2 Brinly PA-40BH Review
If you have a mid-size lawn and are looking for something a little less heavy-duty, the Brinly PA-40BH is a good core aerator. It’s slightly smaller than our best choice at 40” and has just 16 galvanized knives.
Our best value choice is also a tow-behind core aerator, so you’ll get long-lasting effects after using just once or twice a year. But since this pull-behind plug aerator only holds up to 150lbs, it doesn’t give quite as much penetration as our best pick.
Overall, if you have a mid-sized lawn that doesn’t need a heavy-duty lawn aerator, the Brinly PA-40BH is a good choice.
Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator
Best manual plug aerator
This manual aerator needs to be pushed by hand, making it best for small, soft lawns.
3 Step ‘N Tilt Review
If you have a small lawn with soft earth, the Step ‘N Tilt B07WGJFPDW is a good budget option. Unlike our other picks, this one is a manual aerator you have to push, rather than being able to hitch it to a tractor or lawnmower.
This core aerator features just four plugs that need to be manually pushed down into the lawn. And there is a space to use your body weight to get it to penetrate. Because of this design, it’s not that useful for solid, compact ground. However, it’s a budget option for soft ground that can’t take a heavy-duty aerator.
For anyone looking for the best lawn aerator for a small, soft lawn, this is an affordable option. But be prepared to put some serious effort into driving it into the soil.
Best Spike Aerator
A spike aerator offers short-term results on less compact ground. If you have a small lawn and don’t want to take chunks out of it, a spike aerator is a good option.
- Spike size: Larger spikes will penetrate the soil deeper, offering longer-lasting effects.
- Pull-behind: The best spike aerators are pull-behind aerators which can be hooked up to a riding lawn mower to make the process much quicker.
- Weight capacity: The higher the weight capacity, the deeper the penetration of the spikes. 100-150lbs is more than enough for most lawns.
- Galvanized spikes: The best pull-behind spike aerators have galvanized spikes to minimize rusting.
Best Spike Aerator Reviews of 2020
Agri-Fab 45-0544 40″ Pull-Behind Spike Aerator
Heavy-duty for large lawns
The folding hitch and lever to lift the spikes makes this spike aerator easy to store away.
1 Agri-Fab 45-0544 Review
Do you want to aerate your lawn without removing plugs of soil? The Agri-Fab 45-0544 pull-behind spike aerator is a popular choice. Although the effects aren’t as long-lasting as a core aerator, the spikes penetrate up to 3 inches, giving good short-term aeration to lawns.
The hitch used to attach to ride-on mowers folds away for better storage. This is a great feature is space is tight in your storage shed. Plus, the cantilever handle easily lowers and lifts the spikes when you want to tow it back without aerating as you go.
Overall, if you want the best spike aerator that can attach to a ride-on mower for large lawns, our best in class pick is the Agri-Fab 45-0544.
Brinly SA-40BH 40-Inch Tow Behind Spike Aerator
Heavy-duty, no wheels
The 12 steel disks and high weight capacity make this a powerful pull-behind spike aerator.
2 Brinly SA-40BH Review
Looking for something a little more powerful than our best in class pick? The Brinly SA-40BH pull-behind spike aerator has an impressive row of 12 spikes and a maximum load of 110lbs. This gives deep penetration for the toughest ground.
Unlike our best pick, this tow-behind spike aerator doesn’t have wheels. This means the spikes can’t be lifted up off the floor to stop aeration when towing back to your shed or garage. It also doesn’t have a fold-away hitch making it a little bulkier to store.
However, for the price, the Brinly SA-40BH is a heavy-duty lawn aerator for large lawns and great value for money.
Kapler Manual Roller Rolling Lawn Aerator with Fender
Best for small gardens
This manual push spike aerator works best on loose soil and small areas.
3 Kapler Aerator Review
If you have a small lawn that has soft soil, a manual lawn aerator is decent enough and a good budget option. The Kapler B08936JVM2 is the best lawn aerator for loose soil. The spikes are just 1.3 inches so don’t penetrate as deeply as our other picks. But these are sufficient enough for small areas.
The 50-inch handle is good for control, and the mudguard stops mud spraying onto your legs and shoes. If your ground is hard, it can take a lot of force to push so it’s best to wait for the day after rainfall.
But if you’re in the market for a low-cost spike aerator for a small yard, the Kapler B08936JVM2 push lawn aerator is your budget pick.
Best Manual Lawn Aerator
If you have a very small lawn and don’t want to spend money on a heavy-duty aerator, a manual lawn aerator will work great. With both shoe or push options, they give more precise control.
- Spike vs core: Manual aerators come in both spike and core varieties. Core aerators are best for hard, compact soil.
- Push vs shoe: Some models are made to push or pull. Others attach to your shoes and can be walked around the lawn.
- Weight: If you want a lightweight option, a core aerator or aerator shoes are the lightest options.
- Budget aerators: Manual aerators are some of the most affordable options. If you are on a budget, a manual push aerator is the best choice.
Best Manual Lawn Aerator Reviews of 2020
Agri-Fab 45-0365 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator
Best for small, soft lawns
If a tow-behind aerator is too much for your small lawn, this is a good manual alternative.
1 Agri-Fab 45-0365 Review
Do you have a small patch of lawn that is fairly soft? In this case, a tow-behind aerator is probably going to damage the area. Instead, the Agri-Fab 45-0365 is a good manual alternative. This is pushed or pulled over the lawn and the spikes puncture the ground to aerate.
The 5 galvanized spikes give around 2.5” of penetration into the ground and the unit has a 35lb capacity. This won’t be powerful enough for compact, clay soil but is a good option for small areas of soft lawn.
Be prepared for a workout when pushing or pulling this manual lawn aerator. It’s heavy and needs some manual force to push the spikes into the ground well.
Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Grass Dethatching Turf Plug Core Aeration Tool
Best manual plug aerator
With two plugs, this manual lawn aerator is designed for giving more control over spot aeration.
2 Yard Butler ID-6C Review
If you want a small tool for spot aerating or covering a small area, the Yard Butler ID-6C is a quality manual plug aerator. Unlike spike aerators, this core aerator penetrates deep into the soil at 3.5”. However, since this is a manual tool with only two plugs, it is best suited to small areas where you’d like total control over where the plugs are removed.
If you have hard soil, it’s best to water the patch of lawn before using this plug aerator to make driving it in easier. Even so, be prepared to put into some effort to get the best results.
Overall, if you’d like a low-cost plug aerator for a small lawn, the Yard Butler ID-6C is a reliable choice.
Abco Tech ABC2097 Lawn Aerator Shoes
Best lawn aerator shoes
Aeration shoes offer a less strenuous alternative to manual or pull-behind aerators.
3 Abco Tech ABC2097 Review
If pull-behind aerators are too heavy-duty for your lawn and you’d struggle to push a manual tool, these lawn aerator shoes are an easy and fun alternative. Simply strap them to your normal shoes and walk around your lawn to aerate.
The spikes are 1.8”, giving moderate penetration. Although this doesn’t give as long-lasting effects as push-behind aerators, shoe aeration is much easier to do more frequently. And since these lawn aerator shoes are hand-free, it’s easy to spread seed or mow your lawn at the same time.
As a budget, easy-to-use alternative for aerating a lawn, the Abco Tech ABC2097 gives decent results.
Best Aerator Seeder Spreader
If you need to aerate your soil as well as spread seed or fertilizer, an aerator spreader will make the job much quicker. These are great for anyone who regularly fertilizes or seeds their lawn.
- Tow-behind design: Aerator spreaders are made to pull-behind or hook up to a lawn tractor for the easiest application.
- Spike stars: Don’t core the soil as you go but spike holes to prevent soil or fertilizer being lifted away.
- Cutting width: From 30 to 60 inches, the larger size will need less passes whereas a smaller width is good for a smaller lawn.
- Weighted trailer: Pull behind aerator spreaders need to be weighed down with 100-150lbs to get the best penetration into the soil for aeration.
Best Aerator Seeder Spreader Reviews of 2020
Brinly AS-40BH 40-Inch Tow Behind Combination Aerator Spreader
Great for large lawns
Heavy-duty aerator spreader combo to save time caring for large lawns.
1 Brinly AS-40BH Review
Want to save time by aerating and spreading seed or fertilizer at once? The Brinly AS-40BH pull-behind aerator spreader combo is a two-in-one tool for both jobs. The large 40” hopper can hold up to 100lbs of lawn care product. This weighs down the lawn aerator and allows the steel spike disks to penetrate as you spread.
The leaver controls the rate of product being spread, ensuring you don’t over-fertilize and damage your lawn. This also allows you to disengage the spikes and spreader entirely to transport over driveways or paths. The lever itself can come loose though so it’s best to keep an eye to make sure your seed or fertilizer is spreading at the right pace.
Overall, the Brinley AS-40BH is the best aerator spreader combo for anyone with a large lawn and a mower to pull it behind.
Agri-Fab 45-0543 100 lb. Tow Spiker / Seeder / Spreader Combo
Small but good coverage
The solid lever gives much better control over the spread of seed or fertilizer in this aerator spreader.
2 Agri-Fab 45-0543 Review
Just like our best pick, the Agri-Fab 45-0543 can hold up to 100lbs of seed or fertilizer, giving a maximum coverage of 40,000 square feet. This is great for anyone with an expansive lawn or acreage to care for.
However, the Agri-Fab aerator seeder spreader combo comes with a sturdier lever, so controlling the flow of seed being spread is a little easier. This tow-behind aerator spreader is slightly smaller than our best pick, at 32 inches. But this is still sufficient enough for large lawns.
Solidly built, this is a popular aerator spreader for most gardeners. And for the price, it offers good value for money.
Craftsman CMXGZBF7124331 100-lb Pull Behind Spike Aerator Drop Spreader
Budget aerator spreader
With a large 32” hopper and 100lb capacity, this is a good aerator spreader combo for the price.
3 Craftsman CMXGZBF7124331 Review
If you’re looking for an affordable aerator seeder spreader for mid-sized lawns, the Craftsman CMXGZBF7124331 is a good budget option. Similar to our best value pick, it’s 32” across and can hold up to 100lbs of seed. However, it’s not as sturdy as our best in class or value picks, so may struggle on extra-large lawns.
This Craftsman tow-behind aerator spreader also comes with a stop/start lever and gauge to control the amount of seed or fertilizer being spread. Both are well-built for the price point.
For anyone looking for the best lawn aerator spreader for a mid-sized lawn, the Craftsman CMXGZBF7124331 is our budget pick.
Best Drum Spike Aerator
If you have very uneven soil or lawn, a drum aerator will help to flatten the area while aerating. The drum can be filled with weight depending on how much pressure you’d like to apply.
- Drum size: Drum aerators range from 30” to 40” depending on the size of your lawn or soil.
- Spikes: Drum aerators do not use cores since they would rip out too much ground. Instead, galvanized spikes aerate by driving holes into the ground.
- Weight: The weight added varies. Extremely uneven ground will need a larger 300lb capacity to get the most effective flattening.
- Pull-behind design: Drum aerators are too heavy to use manually. They are designed to be hitched to a tractor, riding lawn mower or zero turn mower and pulled behind.
Best Drum Spike Aerator Reviews of 2020
Master Rancher YTL-008-061 Drum Spike Aerator
Best for compact ground
The curved spikes are designed to penetrate even the toughest ground without bending.
1 Master Rancher YTL-008-061 Review
Do you have an uneven lawn with patches of thick thatch? A drum aerator is a heavy-duty tool that will flatten uneven lawns as it aerates. And when it comes to the best drum aerators, the Master Rancher YTL-008-061 is our top choice.
The drum has a maximum capacity of 280lbs which helps penetrate even the most compact ground. It’s easily filled with water to give as much or as little penetration up to 2.5 inches. But the best feature is the rounded spikes. These are designed to easily penetrate compact ground without bending or snapping, giving a longer life to the drum.
Overall, if you have a large lawn with very compact ground, the Master Rancher YTL-008-0661 is our best in class pick for drum spike aerators.
Yard Tuff SE-40 Drum Spike Aerator
Heavy-duty drum aerator
The heavy-duty 200lb capacity makes this drum aerator build for the toughest turf.
2 Yard Tuff SE-40 Review
Just like our best in class pick, the Yard Tuff SE-40 has 78 steel spikes and a 38” width. This drum aerator is larger though, with an impressive capacity of 299lbs. Making it a heavy-duty aerator for thatched, compact turf.
Unlike our best in class choice though, the Yard Tuff SE-40 doesn’t have curved spikes. This one features straight 2.5” spikes. Although these penetrate at the same depth, they do run the risk of bending or snapping under the maximum weight.
But for anyone looking for a good value drum spike aerator for their hard, uneven turf, the Yard Tuff SE-40 is an affordable option.
Titan Distributors Inc. 36” Tow Behind Drum Spike Aerator for ATV UTV
Best for smaller lawns
With a smaller weight capacity, this drum aerator is best for less compact ground.
3 Titan 36" Drum Aerator Review
The Titan 36″ Drum Aerator has a smaller weight capacity of 200lb. Although this is still sufficient for moderately uneven lawns, it’s not as good at dealing with tough, compact soil.
But for the budget price, this drum spike aerator still has some impressive features. Just like our other picks, it features 78 galvanized steel spikes that penetrate up to 2.5”. These are straight spikes, so do run the risk of snapping if used on tough or thatched ground.
However, for anyone looking for an affordable pull-behind drum aerator, this is a good option for your average lawn.
Lawn Aerator Buying Guide
What is a lawn aerator?
A lawn aerator is a gardening tool that is designed to create holes in your lawn. This allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to penetrate your lawn, helping it grow better. When a lawn is aerated, the grass roots grow much more deeply, resulting in a stronger, better-looking lawn.
Aeration is most commonly needed on compact, hard lawns to help loosen the ground and allow roots to spread better.
What are the different types of lawn aerators?
The main types of lawn aerators are:
- Pull-behind plug aerator
- Pull-behind spike aerator
- Manual aerator
- Drum aerator
- Aerator spreader combo
What is a plug aerator?
A plug aerator removes small plugs of grass and soil from the lawn, leaving behind 1-2-inch holes. Plug aerators have a set of tines which are hollow spikes. These sharp tines core out the ground as you go. Plug aerators are generally the best tool for aeration and give the most long-lasting effects.
Plug aerating generally needs to be done once or twice a year. Perhaps more often if you have extremely compact soil such as clay.
What is a spike aerator?
A spike aerator has sharp, thin spikes that puncture the turf. These do not remove plugs of soil as they go, but instead drive steel spikes down into the ground to create 1-3-inch holes.
This is a less effective form of aeration and the effects are not as long-lasting. This is because the holes fill in much more quickly. However, if you don’t want to dispose of many plugs of soil after aerating, this is a much easier option.
Spike aeration needs to be done more often – around 3-4 times a year at least. Also, if you have extremely compact soil, you may find that a spike aerator isn’t powerful enough to penetrate the ground.
What is a manual aerator?
Manual aerators can be both plug and spike varieties but instead of towing them behind a mower or tractor, they are manual tools. Some are hand tools which need to be pushed into the ground or pushed along. Others are strapped to your shoes and stomped into the ground to get the desired aeration effect.
What is a drum aerator?
A drum aerator is a large barrel-shaped tool covered in spikes. This is rolled over the lawn to aerate and flatten the ground at the same time. If you have an uneven lawn, a drum aerator will smooth over the ground while leaving aeration holes as you go.
Plug aerator vs spike aerator: which is best?
This depends on the type of turf you have and the amount of ground you have to cover. A plug aerator is the most effective form of aeration. This is best for tightly compact ground that needs deep penetration. However, if you have very soft ground, plug aeration may just damage the turf and create unsightly holes.
On the other hand, spike aeration is a less invasive option if you already have loose soil. Since this is a less effective method, however, it is best for smaller areas.
When to Aerate Your Lawn
The best time to aerate your lawn is during the growing season. During this time, your grass will heal and fill in holes most effectively. Early spring is the most effective time. However, you can aerate your lawn at any time of year. If your lawn looks like it needs aeration in cooler weather when the ground is hard, you may need to water the area first to help loosen the turf.
Best lawn aerator brands
Wondering which brands are best for plug, spike, manual, drum, and spreader aerators? Here are some of the best lawn aerator brands:
- Agri-Fab lawn aerators: are some of the best on the market. These are high-quality tools that are in the mid to high-price bracket. Well made, Agri-Fab offers a range of spike, plug, and manual lawn aerators. If you’re looking for the best lawn aerator and want to invest in a tool that will last, Agri-Fab is a great brand.
- Brinly lawn aerators: are a good option for the price. Brinly is a high-quality brand but are usually slightly cheaper than Agri-Fab. Brinly is most well-known for the aerator spreaders which are popular with many gardeners.
- Kapler lawn aerators: are a good budget option for small lawns. Most known for spike aerators, Kapler makes decent quality aerators which are designed for small lawns without hard or compact soil.
- Yard Butler lawn aerators: are some of the best manual aerators. If you have a fairly small lawn and don’t want to splash out on a pull-behind aerator, Yard Butler has a good range of manual aerators. Although these are much more effort than tow-behind aerators, they are good quality and give great results.
- Sommer lawn aerators: are a good value option. Sitting in the low to mid-range price bracket, Sommer is known for their aerator spreaders. If you have a medium-sized garden and want a fairly priced aerator spreader, Sommer is a good brand to research.
- Craftsman lawn aerators: are a budget option for anyone with a small lawn. Although not as well made as some of the top brands, Craftsman is a decent option for gardeners on a budget. They are most well known for their aerator spreaders, but do offer spike and plug aerators in the budget category too.
Some other good brands to keep in mind when looking for the best lawn aerator are Abco Tech, Master Rancher, Yard Stuff, and Chamberlain.
What is the best lawn aerator for my project?
Different types of lawn aerator are best for different lawns. Here is a breakdown to help you choose the best one for your garden:
Most effective form of aeration for large, compact lawns.
Less effective but still a good option for medium and small gardens with loose soil.
An affordable option for small lawns. Much more effort than pull-behind aerators so too much work for large lawns.
Heavy-duty option for extremely compact and uneven lawns.
Aerator spreader combo
A two-in-one tool for anyone looking to save time by aerating and spreading seed or fertilizer at the same time
How to Aerate Your Yard
If you’re unsure how to aerate your lawn, here are the simple steps to follow:
- Before beginning, make sure your soil is moist. This can be achieved by waiting until the day after rainfall, or watering your lawn with a hosepipe or sprinkler.
- Most pull-behind aerators cover a small percentage of lawn per pass. This means you’ll need to do multiple passes over compact soil for best results. After 2-3 passes of your entire lawn, check to see if another pass is needed.
- If you’re using a plug aerator, give the plugs time to dry out and then run over the entire lawn with your lawnmower to spread them back out. You can also rake them up to remove them if you’d prefer.
- After aerating, ensure you continue with usual lawn maintenance such as fertilizing, mowing and regular watering.
- For plug aeration, aim for 1-2 times a year. For spike aeration, aim for 2-4 times as needed.
Aeration is a vital process to achieve the best-looking, healthiest lawn. If your lawn is looking unhealthy, brown, or extremely compact, regular aeration should become part of your lawn care regime.