Top 5 Best Lawn Aerators For Breaking Down Compact Soil

By Ann Sanders | Lawn Care

Best Lawn Aerators

In order to ensure a healthy and good-looking lawn, you must practice proper maintenance. While watering and providing sufficient sunlight is necessary, it’s not rare when homeowners forget the value of aeration. With the right lawn aerator, your lawn will grow optimally. Here, we take a look at the best lawn aerators in 2018.

​What Is Aeration?

To understand why your lawn would be better off with an aerator, you must know what aeration is in the first place. For one, aeration is considered as the natural exchange of air between the soil and the nearby atmosphere.

​However, it can also refer to the mechanical removal of thatch and soil to develop the aforementioned natural process of aeration. In the professional lawn service business, this mechanical process is known as core aeration. Likewise, lawn owners refer to this as either soil cultivation or aeration.

Top 5 Best Lawn Aerators

Image

Product

Price

Our Rating

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

$$$

Yard Butler IM-7C Spike Aerator

Yard Butler IM-7C Spike Aerator

$

Brinly SAT-40BH Tow Behind Spike Aerator with Transport Wheels

Brinly SAT-40BH Tow Behind Spike Aerator with Transport Wheels

$$

Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

$$$

Punchau Lawn Aerator Shoes

Punchau Lawn Aerator Shoes

$

​What Is Soil Compaction?

One hindrance to a healthy lawn is extreme soil compaction. When the soil in your lawn is incredibly compact, it becomes harder for water and fertilizer to reach the root systems of your grass. Even if the soil compaction level is not extreme, your lawn is still better off with well-aerated soil.

​After all, it is common that the fertile topsoil in your property becomes displaced or removed once the basement and the concrete footings were being constructed. Thus, the grass in your lawn might be growing in compact and clay-rich subsoil instead of being in the fertile topsoil.

​Moreover, the traffic in your lawn can affect soil compaction. This traffic includes the people walking and playing on your lawn. Also, even the use of lawn mowers is part of the traffic and it will add stress to your lawn. Furthermore, rainfall and irrigation also contribute to soil compaction.

​What Are The Advantages Of A Lawn Aerator?

While the primary purpose of a lawn aerator is to effectively reduce soil compaction and improve air exchange between the soil and the atmosphere, the process of aeration provides more benefits than you might expect. In other words, lawn maintenance shouldn’t be so difficult if you properly conduct aeration.

​Better Fertilizer Efficacy

​As we all know, aeration is done by creating holes in the soil to make it less compact. While these holes primarily let more air into the soil, they also make fertilizer absorption easier. This effectively reduces the amount of fertilizer that goes to waste just because it wasn’t completely taken in by the soil.

​Improved Thatch Breakdown

​The organic layer consisting of living shoots and dead roots and stems at the top of the soil is what we typically refer to as thatch. In particular, this section results from the active growth of the grass in one’s lawn. If the thatch is just 3/4th of an inch in thickness, it can readily safeguard the crowns of grass plants. In addition, thatch prevents your lawn grass from experiencing extreme heat or cold.

​However, an incredibly thick layer of thatch is not good for your lawn. Due to the hydrophobic characteristic of thatch, it can quickly become the haven of plant diseases and harmful insects. To prevent this, lawn owners should consider aerating the soil to break up the thick layer of thatch.

​Reduced Water Waste And Better Heat Tolerance

​If the soil remains compacted, the amount of water runoff will remain the same. This means that a portion of water is not absorbed into the soil for the root systems to utilize. Likewise, compacted soil can lead to poor drainage and the appearance of puddles after rainfall or irrigation. With enough aeration, the water can quickly go down into the soil. Since more water goes into the soil, it does not immediately succumb to heat- and drought-induced stress.

​Types Of Lawn Aerators

Now that you know the function and added benefits of aeration, it’s time to identify the various types of lawn aerators. There are four types, and it’s important that you find the right that suits your preferences and your lawn.

​Tine Aerator

​Also known as a step aerator or a spike aerator, this type resembles a fork. It usually features four to five spikes that dig down to break the soil. Using the tine aerator is easy as you only have to push down the spikes using your foot. Once the spikes are in the soil, you just have to pull them out to get rid of the thatch and other debris.

​If you have a small-sized lawn or only a small portion of your lawn has compacted soil, you should choose a tine aerator. However, it’s not the ideal choice for large- or medium-sized lawns due to the fact that it relies on your physical strength to keep it in operation.

​Core Aerator

​Otherwise known as the spike core aerator, this type is a great choice if you have a relatively old lawn. Specifically, the core aerator is meant for lawns that contain thick layers of thatch and extremely compacted soil. It has a couple of sharp tines that are separated by around nine inches. These two tines can dig into the heavily compacted soil and get rid of at least three inches of thatch with each use.

​Spike Aerator Shoes

​This type of lawn aerator is very easy to use. If you like to walk around on your lawn, you can wear these spiked shoes. With each step, the spikes attached at the bottom of the shoes will dig deep into the grass and soil. Still, you have to be careful when you wear these as your pets or your kids might suddenly be nearby. Like any other lawn maintenance tools, these need to be stored properly away from both kids and animals.

​Push Spike Aerator

​For lawn owners who want to aerate the soil without having to exert so much physical effort, they can get the push spike aerator. As the name implies, you simply have to push this aerator to get the soil aerated. A push spike aerator resembles a lawn mower, and it has wheels to help it move around.

​Also, it has a tray located between the wheels. This is where the steel spikes are attached, and they conveniently dig into the soil as you move the aerator. One downside, however, is that a push spike aerator usually only reaches an inch into the soil. Thus, it’s not the ideal choice for lawns with extremely compacted soil or those with a lot of rocks and a hilly terrain.

​Tow Plug Aerator

​If you have a large-sized lawn, a tow-behind plug aerator should work best for you. Similar to a riding lawn mower, this lawn aerator is pretty big ranging between 42 inches and 48 inches. Furthermore, a tow plug aerator is made of durable steel and it contains a tray that can carry as much as 175 pounds. In fact, this much weight helps the knives in penetrating extremely compact soil while balancing the aerator.

Top 5 ​Lawn Aerator Reviews

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Via amazon.com

The first model we have a tow plug aerator from Agri-Fab. While it does have some imported materials, the Agri-Fab 45-0229 was manufactured in the United States. While it will take some time to assemble the aerator, the instructions and diagrams provided make it hassle-free – especially if you get assistance from another person. Just be extra careful and wear gloves and protective clothing.

​This relatively large aerator uses 32 galvanized knives that could easily dig into the soil. The blades are undoubtedly sharp, and it’s not hard to maintain their quality. If they do get significant damage, replacing them will just cost three dollars each. To assist in penetrating the soil deeper, the 48-inch tray of this tow plug aerator can carry as much as 175 pounds.

​If you want to raise or lower the tines, you can use the cantilever transport handle. As for mobility, the Agri-Fab 45-0229 has sturdy 10-inch tires that are designed to be resilient against getting flat. These tires should help move the 93-pound aerator flat and uneven terrain. Also, this aerator comes with a three-year limited consumer warranty if any issues arise.

What We Liked

  • Heavy-duty and sharp knives easily dig into compacted soil
  • Weight tray allows for better soil penetration
  • Easy assembly thanks to the well-written instructions
  • Sturdy and flat-proof tires
  • Three-year warranty included

What We Didn't Like

  • Handle isn’t convenient to reach for some people
  • Plastic split bearing does not seem very durable

Yard Butler IM-7C Spike Aerator

Yard Butler IM-7C Spike Aerator

Via amazon.com

Next up, we have an aerator from Yard Butler that is characterized by its four three-inch spikes. As a spike aerator, using this is pretty straightforward. What is impressive is the lifetime warranty provided by Yard Butler. Furthermore, you have to be patient when you use this spike aerator. Even with some rainfall, the soil can still be too compacted for the Yard Butler IM-7C to pull out sizable plugs.

However, you can expect the spikes to dig deeper with more rainfall and irrigation. Still, you must observe the amount of moisture as a soil that is too wet won’t work well with the spike aerator. Instead of waiting for a long time to aerate the soil in your lawn, you can use the Yard Butler IM-7C once every several days to keep the soil from being too compact.

On the other hand, using spraying lubricant won’t help that much to make the spikes penetrate the extremely dry soil. Still, this should lessen the likelihood of clogging. Also, plugging the holes wouldn’t be easy if you have soft and high-clay soil. As for durability, the Yard Butler IM-7C Spike Aerator is tough.

What We Liked

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable construction
  • Good for light yet frequent aeration
  • Easy to use

What We Didn't Like

  • Tends to get clogged
  • Use of spraying lubricant doesn’t help much

Brinly SAT-40BH Tow Behind Spike Aerator with Transport Wheels

Brinly SAT-40BH Tow Behind Spike Aerator with Transport Wheels

Via amazon.com

Now, we have a tow-behind spike aerator that features 11 galvanized steel tine stars. In particular, there are 132 tine tips to efficiently aerate your lawn. These eight-inch tine stars move independently from each other and they don’t stop even when you turn the tractor. Apart from the noticeable sharpness, these tine stars are fairly resistant to rust and have soil penetration depth of up to two inches.

Speaking of turns, the Brinly SAT-40BH has transport wheels for moving on soil, walkways, and even on gravel surfaces. Also, the transport level should help you in crossing these areas with ease. Regardless of your lawn tractor, attaching this spike aerator shouldn’t be so difficult with the universal hitch of the steel trailer tongue.

The steel tray feels sturdy, but its carrying capacity of 100 pounds is significantly lesser than the 175-pound limit of the Agri-Fab 45-0229 Tow Plug Aerator. Still, this is enough to help the tines in penetrating the soil. Similarly, the steel tine shaft and the nylon spacers are durable. On top of that, Brinly has included a two-year warranty.

What We Liked

  • Well-prepared instructions and diagrams
  • Easy to assemble
  • Tough steel tine stars penetrate well into the soil
  • Universal hitch for easy attachment to lawn tractors

What We Didn't Like

  • Some small parts needed for assembly were missing
  • Tray has an average carrying capacity

Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Via amazon.com

We have another tow-behind lawn aerator from Brinly, but this one is focused more on plugging than spiking the soil. One issue we have with the PA-40BH is the assembly. While there are already holes drilled by the manufacturer, some are not big enough to attach the other parts with. Moreover, applying sufficient pressure to tighten the locking bolts and attach the tines isn’t easy. Thankfully, this only needs to be conducted once.

Moving on, the Brinly PA-40BH has 24 heat-treated steel plug spoons that are designed to remove three-inch plugs of soil each time. If there is a problem with any of these spoons, they can be individually replaced to minimize the expenses. To assist in penetrating the soil, the fully-enclosed steel tray of this plug aerator can carry as much as 150 pounds. This is good for aerating soil that is either extremely compacted or high in hard clay content.

Similar to the previous Brinly aerator, this one has transport wheels for convenient movement on walkways and gravel paths. Likewise, the two-piece drawbar has the universal hitch for attaching to tractors. Also, there is a two-year warranty for this Brinly plug aerator.

What We Liked

  • Parts feel tight after assembly
  • Quickly removes plugs of soil with the heat-treated plug spoons
  • Sturdy 150-pound capacity steel tray for better soil penetration
  • Two-year warranty included

What We Didn't Like

  • Some holes are not appropriately sized for seamless assembling
  • Tightening bolts and attaching the tines isn’t easy

Punchau Lawn Aerator Shoes

Punchau Lawn Aerator Shoes

Via amazon.com

Finally, we have a pair of aerator shoes from Punchau. If you want to have a bit of exercise while improving the soil in your lawn, you could benefit from these lawn aerator shoes. Regardless of the size of your feet, the one-size-fits-all design of these shoes should give you enough comfort. The base feels durable, especially since they are attached to the twelve spikes capable of making two-inch holes.

Moreover, the straps feel sturdy along with the metal buckles. Some lawn aerator shoes only have plastic buckles, so this should last longer than the average variants. You just have to pull the buckle once to tighten it. Furthermore, there are three straps instead of merely two to keep your aerator shoes well-fitted to your regular footwear.

Apart from being a cost-effective aeration method, the use of these shoes can be a time-saver since you can just wear these while mowing the lawn. However, you have to move your foot up from the soil in a straight manner to keep the straps from being loose.Also, you must be careful since rocks can be found just underneath the soil. If you are petite, you would have to stomp with sufficient force to make good use of these aerator shoes.

What We Liked

  • Metal buckles instead of the usual plastic buckles
  • Three straps to give a better fit
  • Sturdy base
  • Good for light aeration of small areas

What We Didn't Like

  • Requires a lot of tightening to avoid being frequently loose
  • Does not fit well with some boots

Best Lawn Aerator - Winner

Overall, our favorite lawn aerator is none other than the Agri-Fab 45-0229 Tow Plug Aerator. This aerator does not require you to exert a lot of physical effort, which is good for many lawn owners including senior citizens. This aerator is made in the United States, and we can clearly notice the craftsmanship behind it. It does need some assembling, but the instruction manual is excellent.

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Via amazon.com

Furthermore, the blades are exceptionally sharp and they are affordable enough to replace. The 48-inch long tray can withstand 175 pounds of added weight to enhance soil penetration. The 10-inch flat-proof tires help you move with ease around your lawn no matter the slopes along the way. No matter the size of your lawn, this is big enough to efficiently aerate the extremely compacted soil with its heavy-duty knives.


We hope that you learned a lot from our buying guide. Aerating your lawn is an important task in maintaining or improving the quality of both the soil and the plants. With the right aerator, you can get the job done in no time. If you have any queries, feel free to give us a comment.

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About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...