We’re the Plug for the Best Lawn Aerator

For serious lawn care aficionados, an aerator is an ace up their sleeve. If you're ready to get serious, check out the best lawn aerator on the market.

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True Temper 4 Tine Spading Digging Fork Ecomm Amazon.comVIA MERCHANT

Simply put, a lawn aerator is a device that pokes holes in a lawn’s surface so the ground can breathe. It works by coring out pieces of soil, which allows water and fertilizer to reach under the turf to the grass roots. Recreational use, heavy foot traffic, pets, and even riding lawnmowers all contribute to compacting the soil under your lawn. Besides breaking up compaction, lawn aerators are excellent for managing lawn thatch and promoting seed germination.

With that in mind, it’s clear you need a lawn aerator in your life (and yard). But which one? Luckily, Family Handyman is here to help. We’ve carefully analyzed the options and found the best lawn aerators on the market. Check out our picks below:

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Agri Fab, Spread Drop Spreader Spike Aerator Tow Behind Lawn Groomer Ecomm Walmart.com
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Best Overall Lawn Aerator

Agri-Fab Tow Aerator

While you’re slice-aerating your yard, you can double down on your effort by applying soil amendments like lime or gypsum or by overseeding your lawn in one pass. Need a machine to help you do just that? Check out the Agri-Fab Tow Aerator for the most versatile lawn aerator around. We’re impressed with the eight galvanized steel spike disks (slicing blades), the agitator that resists rust, and the robust 10-inch flat-free wheels that make it easier to tow.

Pros

  • Narrow 32-inch working width
  • 100-pound weight is easy to control
  • Covers up to 40,000 square feet in one fill
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Not super easy to drop fertilizer

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Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes With Stainless Steel Shovel Ecomm Amazon.com
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Best Budget Lawn Aerator

Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Sandals

Open up the full potential of your lawn and get exercise while you’re at it when you strap on these fun and affordable lawn aerator sandals. The adjustable cleats work on most sizes of men’s or women’s shoes. They even come with their own shovel to clean any dirt that sticks to the soles of the shoes. Why not wear ’em while mowing the lawn to be sure you cover every inch of grass? The possibilities are endless.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Velcro straps for easy on and off
  • Anti-slip pads for when the grass is wet
  • Lug boss keeps stainless steel spikes securely locked

Cons

  • Make take some getting used to

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True Temper 4 Tine Spading Digging Fork Ecomm Amazon.com
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Best Digging Fork Lawn Aerator

True Temper Digging Fork

Sometimes the simpler the tool the better. Aerate your lawn without all the bells and whistles with the True Temper Digging Fork. This tool might need a little extra effort to punch the holes, but it does the trick. It’s outrageously simple, yet quick and effective—ideal for working in small, targeted areas that need special attention.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Ideal for smaller areas
  • 15-year warranty

Cons

  • Requires some strength to use

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Agri Fab 45 0299 48 Inch Tow Plug Aerator Ecomm Amazon.comv
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Best Tow-Behind Plug Lawn Aerator

Agri-Fab Tow Behind Plug Aerator

With this tow-behind plug aerator, you’ll open up the soil to create a channel for air, water, fertilizer and grass seeds to get into the ground. It comes with 32 rust-resistant galvanized knives, and a built-in tray allows you to add up to 140 pounds of weight to achieve soil penetration up the three inches deep.

Pros

  • Can be hooked up to any tractor
  • Loosens heavily compacted soil
  • 140-pound tray capacity
  • Cantilever transport handle for raising and lowering

Cons

  • Some assembly required

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Yard Butler Manual Lawn Coring Aerator Ecomm Amazon.com
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Best Standup Lawn Coring Aerator

Yard Butler Manual Lawn Coring Aerator

Get your lawn ready for spring with this powder-coated steel coring aerator built to last. The 37-inch aerator uses a foot bar for extra leverage, so there’s no need to “put your back into it.” With a quick and easy push, it removes two 3-inch grass plugs in one motion.

Pros

  • No back strain
  • Reduces water runoff
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Also works as a lawn dethatcher

Cons

  • Works best when lawn in pre-soaked

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Liquid Soil Loosener Ecomm Amazon.com
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Best Liquid Lawn Aerator

Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Soil Loosener

The Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Soil Loosener is an easy alternative to manual or mechanical aerators. It treats the soil, breaks down the thatch, reduces compaction, and promotes water drainage and filtration as it softens the lawn. Whether you want to use this loosener in tandem with other aerators or on it’s own, it’s sure to impress. Oh, and did we mention it works on all grass types? Consider us sold.

Pros

  • Can be used alone or with mechanical or core aerators
  • 32-ounce bottle covers up to 32,000 square feet
  • Safe to use on all types of grass
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • A bit pricey

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What to Consider When Buying a Lawn Aerator

There’s a lot to consider before going and getting your first lawn aerator. Can you handle the physical task of operating a manual aerator over a gas- or electric-powered option? If you own a lawn tractor or riding lawnmower, a tow-behind lawn aerator might be the way to go. Do you prefer plug- or spike-style aerators? How much are you willing to spend? How much storage space do you have in the garage or shed to store the aerator? These are all important questions to ask yourself  prior to purchasing a lawn aerator of any kind.

Types of Lawn Aerators

Lawn aerators come in different varieties. Check them out below:

  • Manual/handhelds require the user to fully operate the tool; can be physically demanding
  • Aerator shoes are wearable cleats you attach to your regular shoes
  • Tow aerators can be pulled behind your lawn tractor or riding lawnmower
  • Gas- or electric-powered models tend to be multi-taskers that not only make holes, but also sow seeds and spread fertilizer at the same time
  • Liquid aeration is an easy-to-use fortified solution that breaks down soil particles

How We Found the Best Lawn Aerator

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject-matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.

FAQ

When should I aerate my lawn?

The optimal time to aerate your lawn is late summer or early fall. This time of year, lawns are most compacted, so aeration helps alleviate tamped-down soil and prepares it for the grass-growing season. After a rainfall is a great time to aerate since the ground is soft, allowing for deeper penetration with less effort. We recommend avoiding aerating during the hot summer months, which will only dry out and put undue stress on your lawn.

Do I need to cut my grass before aerating my lawn?

It’s not necessary, but mowing the grass down to a few inches will maximize the lawn aerating effectiveness.

Do holes fill in after aeration?

Yes. Holes left behind after aerating the lawn will be filled in by new grass roots within a week or so.

Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a culture and lifestyle writer, reviews expert and DIYer covering everything from pests to pool cabanas to painting. For over a decade, Toni was the owner of a successful faux finishing, mural and children’s furniture business before moving to a career in writing. Her work has appeared in The Telegraph, Fodor’s, Italy Magazine, DK Eyewitness travel guides and others. She lives in a medieval hill town in Italy where her bicycle “Raoul” serves as her primary mode of transportation.