There are few things more satisfying for a gardener than looking out over a lush, well kept and heathy looking lawn – however the reality is that our lawns end up looking sad and patchy without the right maintenance.
One way you can actively help your lawn be at its best is through lawn aeration.
What is lawn aeration?
- 1 What is lawn aeration?
- 2 What types of lawn aerators are there?
- 3 Recommended Equipment
- 4 How do lawn aerators work?
- 5 When should you aerate your lawn?
- 6 Tips for getting the most from your lawn aerator
Over time the soil beneath your lawn naturally compacts both through natural means, such as weather and mechanical means such as simply walking on your lawn. As the soil compacts this reduces the natural airflow around the plants roots.
Aerating your lawn helps to promote healthy growth which has the dual benefit of improving the overall aesthetic of the lawn (everyone loves a nice green lawn!) as well as making the plants more resilient to the bad weather and frosts that plague the UK during the autumn and winter seasons.
Aerating your lawn helps to improve the overall health of your garden by helping to release stale carbon dioxide from the roots and bring in fresh oxygen.
Lawn aerating is typically done by mechanical means and we’ve outlined some of the different types of equipment and techniques below:
What types of lawn aerators are there?
There are a number of different styles of lawn aerator available and the best one for you really does depend on the size of the lawn requiring maintenance.
So what types of lawn aeration tools are available? There are three main types of lawn aerator tools available depending on your budget; Aerator shoes, manual aerators and mechanical aerators. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks. Costs start at around £10 increasing to over £350 depending on your choice.
Aerator shoes really are exactly what they sound like, typically a set of spiked sandals that you attach to the bottom of your shoes. The one inch to one and a half inch spikes help to aerate your lawn as you walk around.
One of the recommended methods of using these is to wear them while moving the lawn – this ensures that you can aerate the whole lawn at the same time as you mow.
One word of caution with aerator shoes – the spikes can easily puncture footwear, hosepipes and electrical cables if you are not careful.
Manual Lawn Aerators
Manual lawn aerators can consist of something as simple as a pitch fork, or be more complicated like a hollow tine aerator. Manual aerators allow for a more methodical approach to lawn aeration and have longer tines (around two inches) than aerator shoes.
Manual aerators are suitable for smaller gardens or those with harder to reach areas.
Mechanical Lawn Aerator
Mechanical or machine lawn aerators are typically much more complex version of the manual aerators above. These are usually electrically powered, either by mains power or via removable battery or petrol driven via a small engine.
These are ideal if you have a larger garden or field that requires maintenance as you can cover more ground in the sale time, but these are far more expensive than the manual versions.
There are plenty of choices of equipment to aerate your lawn and it really does come down to the space you need to work on and your available budget. We’ve checked out the reviews and made some recommendations of what we think are the best on the market.
Recommended Aerator Shoes
Aerator shoes are great if you don’t have the budget or the required space to purchase or store a larger tool.
One of the two options below uses plastic cross shaped spikes which are ideal for lawns on softer soils while the second uses more traditional steel spikes
Just a word of warning, make sure you take them off when you leave a grassy area, the spikes will do paving or tarmac’d areas no favours.
Lawn Spike Aerator Shoes/Sandals
- ProSpike premium one-piece lawn aerating shoes
- Increases water and nutrient penetration for deeper roots and a greener, healthier lawn
- Features a unique conical spike profile producing larger, stronger holes that stay open longer
- Includes a non-slip platform, heel support and webbing straps for a secure comfortable fitting
- Easy clean & rust free. Manufactured in the UK from super tough rust free nylon for strength and durability
GRÜNTEK Lawn Aerator Shoes | Garden Grass Aerator Spiked Sandals
- 🌿 FAST and EASY ➤ Aeration of your lawn and garden. Aerator Shoes Loosens the soil and improves the penetration of water
- 🌿 UNIVERSAL ADJUSTABLE SIZE ➤ 4 adjustable Velcro straps for A TOP comfort are adaptable to any size of shoe
- 🌿 SAFE and EFFICIENT ➤ 13 safe steel nails per sandal drills into the earth, making looser lawns more porous - soils store more air, and rainwater seeps faster
- 🌿 HEALTHY & EASY to USE ➤ Lawn aerating Shoes are an healthy and economical way to let the soil breath
Recommended Manual Aerators
The following manual aerators both work in the same way. The weighted roller is covered in solid tines that puncture the soils as you simply roll it around. Ideal for covering large areas quickly, these aerators offer a great balance of cost and performance.
Greenkey Garden and Home Ltd 700 Rolling Lawn Aerator
- Large 300mm (12") width covers your lawn quickly and easily
- Thirty 45mm (2") spikes provide deep and even aeration
- Supplied in either green or black
- Helps lawn to breathe, encouraging deep root growth and a lush, green lawn
- Quick and easy to assemble - see instructional video on Greenkey website
COSTWAY Lawn Spike Aerators – Manual Grass Roller
- 【Lawn Spike Aerators】Our grass aerator can help the lawn aeration by a fast and efficient way, you will get rid of the tire of loosen soil. And the spikes on each lawn spike aerators allow the water, air and nutrients to infiltrate deeply to your grass's roots.
- 【Easy to Install】Our lawn aerator requires simply assemble. It will come with clear instruction manual which list the detail install steps for you to follow. You can set up our aerator very easily. And the hardware is included in the package.
- 【Non-slip Spiral Handle】There is a spiral style handle in our lawn aerator which will increases the friction and helps you to operate it more easily. And the special galvanized metal also ensures our roller does not easily rust.
- 【Premium Steel Materials】We use high quality galvanized steel pipe and PP plastic as the main materials which makes it available for long time use. And the solid metal nail is also durable and it can help you loosen the soil well.
- 【Scientific lightweight structure】Reasonable width and height to make the work finish with high efficiency and less effort. And our premium lawn spike aerator is also lightweight for easily daily use.
Oypla Hollow Tine 5 Spike Hand Lawn Grass Soil Aerator
- Official Oypla Branded Product - Brand New Free UK Delivery
- Breathes new life into your lawn without harmful and expensive chemicals
- 5 Hollow Prongs for Extracting Small Plugs of Soil
- Dimensions: 91 x 30 x 3cm
- Weight: 1.7kg
This manual, hollow tine aerator is probably the closest you’ll find to a traditional garden fork. Cheap and cheerful, this should do the job if you only have a small garden, or one with lighter, sandy soil.
If you have a larger garden, or one with compacted soil, then you may want to consider something with a bit more power.
Recommended Mechanical Aerators
If you have a larger lawn that requires maintenance then you might find that a mechanical aerator could be the tool for you..
Einhell RG-SA 1433 Electric Scarifier and Lawn Aerator
- 3-in-1 combination tool: scarifying, aerating and catching
- Ball-bearing spike drum with 20 stainless steel blades
- Adjustable scarifying depth, three levels with parking position
- Large 28 L collection bag means less emptying
- Recommended for lawn areas up to 400 square m
If you don’t need the extended range of a cordless or petrol driven aerator, then this combined Scarifier and Aerator from Einhell could be the tool for you.
This unit also has the added bonus of catching the thatch in its 28L collection bag which means less clean up time with a rake.
Hyundai 210cc 400mm Petrol Lawn Scarifier & Aerator
- Hyundai 210cc 4-Stroke OHV petrol engine, providing easy starting with low fuel consumption
- Variable Height Adjustment
- Easy to remove spacious 45L grass and moss collector
- 19 hardened steel blades specially designed to remove moss.
This powerful petrol driven aerator and scarifier from Hyundai is great if you have a large garden, field or paddock that needs maintenance.
The petrol motor provides the ultimate combination of cordless roaming and an extended duty cycle, but as with any petrol driven tools you’ll have an extra level of maintenance to keep your aerator / scarifier in tip top condition.
Einhell GE-SC 35 36 V Cordless Li-Ion Scarifier and Lawn Aerator
- Cordless lawn care with 2 x 18 V and a powerful Einhell XCore brushless motor
- Double battery power and quick-to-change batteries for continuous working in combination with other Power X-Change tools
- Height-adjustable long handle can be folded up quickly and a parking position protects the blades
- Quick retooling for a scarifier that effortlessly removes weeds and moss or, available as an option, an aerator for effective lawn aeration
- Delivered without batteries and without a charger as a supplement to existing products from the Power X-Change series
This cordless unit from Einhell is ideal if you already own tools using the companies x-change battery system as you won’t need to find an extra battery, simply reuse one that you already have.
However if you’ve not already bought into its cordless battery system then you’ll need the following to get up and running.
How do lawn aerators work?
Regardless of the type of lawn aerator that you pick they all work in a similar way, either by using solid or hollow tines.
Solid tine lawn aeration
Solid tine lawn aerators drive holes into the soil to improve airflow. Because of the simple method of working they tend to be very cost effective to purchase and easy to use and maintain. The downside of solid tine aeration is that repeated use on a single area can cause earth compaction which can hinder healthy lawn growth.
- Typically cheap to purchase
- Easy to use
- Easy to maintain
- Can lead to soil compaction if used too often in the same area
Hollow tine lawn aeration
A hollow tine lawn aerator works in a similar way to the solid tine version however rather than pushing the soil away, the hollow tine extracts the plug of soil as part of the mechanism. Hollow tine aeration is more effective as it doesn’t impact the soil density but the aerators tend to be more expensive to purchase and are harder to maintain.
- More effective than solid tine versions
- Doesn’t impact soil density
- Typically more expensive to purchase
- Extra maintenance steps required
When should you aerate your lawn?
Lawns should be aerated in the spring before the start of the growing season – this allows the roots to recover fully from the process before their main growing phase takes place.
Aerating before this will likely have little effect as the soil will likely recompact before the grass has a chance to benefit and aerating later will probably cause the lawns growth to stall as you could be damaging growing root stock.
Established lawns with stronger root structures typically require less aeration as they are naturally more robust and able to handle the full force of the British weather.
Freshly laid lawns and those that are less mature will require aeration more frequently to promote healthy growth of the root stock.
Different Soil Types
The frequency of aeration also depends on the type of soil you have. Lighter, sandy soils may only require this type of maintenance every other year as they are naturally porous with good air circulation and are easily drained.
Clay soils are far more dense and don’t allow air to circulate and water to drain as freely. For these types of soils we’d recommend aeriating at least once a year.
Tips for getting the most from your lawn aerator
- Prepare the lawn before hand, mow the lawn and scarify the day before.
- Water the lawn regularly after aeration, but avoid getting it saturated.
- If an area is heavily compacted, go over the area several times from different directions to ensure the whole area is adequately covered (this will help avoid a patchy lawn).
- Once you have aerated, add a top dressing (a special lawn soil and fertiliser) to enhance lawn growth.