Lawn aerator

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Core lawn aerator attachment on a conventional front-tine garden tiller

A lawn aerator is a garden tool or machine designed to aerate the soil in which lawn grasses grow. In compacted lawns,[1] Aeration improves soil drainage and encourages worms, microfauna and microflora which require oxygen.

Lawn problems[edit]

Lawn aeration constitutes two things: controlling lawn thatch and reducing soil compaction. Lawn thatch is a layer of dead organic tissue that deprives the lawn of much-needed oxygen. Soil compaction makes it difficult for grass to root and it disturbs natural rainwater irrigation. Watering the lawn the night before aerating can make it easier to aerate a very dense lawn.

It is purported that scientific evidence exists that aeration makes a measurable difference in the long-term health or quality of a lawn.[citation needed]

Also is great for the planting of new lawns.

Types of aerators[edit]

There are two types of lawn aerators. Spike aerators use wedge shaped solid spikes to punch holes in the soil. Core aerators have hollow tines and pull out plugs (or "cores") from soil.

Curved spike aerator

Core/plug aerator vs. spike aerator

A core/plug aerator removes soil from the ground and leaves the core on the turf. This reduces compaction in the soil, and the holes can stay open for a long time. Then air, fertilisers, and water will be able to reach the roots, thus benefiting the grass.

A spike aerator creates holes in the ground by pushing the soil sideways using wedge-shaped spikes. Since there is no soil removed from the ground, water will make the compacted soil around the holes expand and close up the holes in a shorter period.

While core aeration is suitable for heavy clay soils, spike aeration is more suited to sandy or loamy soils. In both cases an application of top dressing and fertiliser after spiking will improve drainage and the fertility of the soil around the roots.

Powered aerator vs. manual aerator

Powered core aerator in use

Powered aerators employ the power from a gasoline engine to drive multiple tines into ground. The machines usually weigh hundreds of pounds and can aerate a large lawn in relatively short time (similar to mowing speed). These types of aerators are expensive and often owned by contractors or rental services.

Manual aerators usually have two to five hollow tines mounted on a step bar. The operator puts one foot on the step bar and push it downward, forcing the tines to penetrate into the soil. Then he pulls the handle on the step bar upward to remove the soil cores out of the ground. By repeating the same operation, the cores left in the tines will be pushed out by the next ones. Manual aerators are much cheaper than powered ones. The trade-off is the speed. For a typical residential lawn (1/4 acre lot), it will take hours to finish. Some products also have issues with the tines becoming clogged with soil, which can slow down the operation even more. However, a well-made manual aerator offers advantages such as ease of use, selective aeration, and economy.


  1. ^ "Aberdeen Lawn Care". Aberdeen Lawn Care. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  • The Organic Lawn Care Manual, Tukey, Storey Publishing

External links[edit]

Media related to Lawn aerators at Wikimedia Commons