The 7 Best Lawn Aerators for Your Greenest Grass Ever

By Corrie Pelc


Do you have spots on your lawn that never seem to be perfect no matter what you do? You try to supplement it with extra water and fertilizer, but no matter your efforts, that one spot is just never as lush and green as the rest of your lawn.


Chances are, the issue is not how you're maintaining your lawn — it has to do with the soil. Sometimes lawn soil becomes hard and packed down. When that happens, grass roots can no longer get the three vital things they need to grow: nutrients, water, and air.


Thankfully, there's a landscaping tool designed just to break up compacted soil like this in lawns: a lawn aerator.

Rolling lawn aerator and grass pulled up / Photo via Shutterstock
Rolling lawn aerator and grass pulled up / Photo via Shutterstock

Top Picks

How Does a Lawn Aerator Work?

A lawn aerator is a metal tool with spikes or hollow tongs on it. When used, the spikes or tongs cut into the soil, helping to break it up so that water, nutrients, and air can not get to the roots of the grass.


Most aerators are manually operated, meaning you push them down into the soil using your own hands.


Types of Lawn Aerators

Push lawn aerators look like old-school lawn mowers and have handles so you can push them up and down the lawn while they break up the soil.


Handheld lawn aerators look like pitchforks and you push them down into the soil. Some handheld aerators have foot platforms attached to them, allowing you to use your foot and body weight to break through super-compacted soil.


And for large lawns, there are tow-behind lawn aerators, which can attach to the back of riding lawn mowers.

How to Buy a Lawn Aerator

While you start shopping for your new aerator, here are two questions to ask yourself:

  • Plug or Spike? Aerators come in two formats. A spike aerator uses pointy spikes on one end to penetrate the soil and help break it up. These work very well for soil that needs to be broken up a bit. For soil that is super-compacted, a plug aerator uses hollow tines to actually pull out some of the soil. Plug aerators are great for areas where the soil is so tamped-down that you can't dig through it.
  • How Big is Your Yard? As we discussed above, if you have a really large yard there are tow-behind aerator options for getting the job done quicker. However, for most lawns, a handheld, lightweight lawn aerator is the best way to go. And depending on how much upper body strength you have, look for models with footholds so you can use your lower body strength to really dig the aerator down deep.

Test Factors We Considered When Picking the Best Lawn Aerators

We used the following test factors to decide our list of the best aerate lawn tools:

  • Type: Is this lawn aerator a handheld, push, or tow-behind tool?
  • Aeration Method: Is this a plug or spike aerator?
  • Spike/Tine Length: How long are the spikes or hollow tines on this aerator? Generally speaking, spikes or tines between 2.5 to 3.5 inches long are suitable for most lawns.
  • Spike/Tine Quantity: How many spikes or hollow tines are on this lawn aerator?
  • Weight: How much does this aerator weigh? This is important because the user will be towing it around their yard.
  • Warranty: Does the manufacturer back this product’s performance?


Let’s take a look now at our list of the top-rated lawn aerators you can purchase right now.

Best Handheld Plug Lawn Aerator: Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator

Type: Handheld Aeration Method: Plug Spike/Tine Length: 3.5 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 2 Weight: 3.72 pounds Warranty: Lifetime warranty

With more than 6,500 ratings and 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, there's no guessing why the Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator is our top pick for the best handheld plug aerator. This plug aerator features two hollow tines that pull out 3.5-inch soil plugs to help aerate the grass roots in your lawn. The tool measures 37 inches in height, making it a great size for most people to use without having to stoop or strain their backs. It also has a foot bar so you can use lower body strength and weight to fully penetrate the tool into the soil. Made from powder-coated steel, this aerator is built to last and is rust-resistant. The Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator also has cushioned hand grips for comfortable use and weighs less than four pounds. And the company says it is guaranteed for life to be free from any material or workmanship defects.

Pros

  • Two hollow tines pull out 3.5-inch soil plugs for aeration
  • Made from rust-resistant steel
  • Includes a foot bar and cushioned hand grips

Cons

  • Requires strength to push into the ground

Best Handheld Spike Lawn Aerator: Yard Butler IM-7C Multi Spike Lawn Aerator

Type: Handheld Aeration Method: Spike Spike/Tine Length: 3 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 4 Weight: 4.24 pounds Warranty: Lifetime warranty

Quickly get air circulating within the roots of your grass with the Yard Butler IM-7C Multi Spike Lawn Aerator. This handheld spike aerator features four three-inch prongs that easily break through compacted soil. The handheld tool measures 36 inches in length — an optimal height for most users. The aerator is made from powder-coated, heavy-duty steel that is resistant to rust, and cushioned handles help minimize wear-and-tear on hands, while the foot bar helps the user use their full weight to dig the spikes deep. The Yard Butler IM-7C Multi Spike Lawn Aerator only weighs about four pounds, so it's easy to move around your yard. And this spike aerator is backed by a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Handheld aerator with four three-inch spikes
  • Features a padded handlebar and foot bar
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Requires strength to push into the ground

Best Push Plug Lawn Aerator: Step 'N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator

Type: Push Aeration Method: Plug Spike/Tine Length: 3.5 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 4 Weight: 21.5 pounds Warranty: 100-percent satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer

If you prefer a plug lawn aerator that you can push over the ground rather than into the ground, then give the Step 'N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator a look. This aerator looks and operates quite like a manual lawn mower — just grasp it by the handle, step on the foot bed, tilt it back slightly, and push it in front of you on any area you need to break up the soil. The aerator's sharpened hollow tines dig down 3.5 inches into the soil. The tool's four tines are tapered, which helps keep them from getting clogged with the soil plugs they pick up. The Step 'N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator’s tines are made from recycled carbon steel, so they will last a very long time, and the tool’s height works for anyone between four feet tall and six-foot-five.

Pros

  • Easy to operate
  • Tines can be sharpened or replaced when worn down
  • Usable height for most people

Cons

  • Has to be manually operated

Best Push Spike Lawn Aerator: Agri-Fab 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator

Type: Push Aeration Method: Spike Spike/Tine Length: 2.5 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 5 discs Weight: 27 pounds Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

Efficiently aerate smaller lawns with the Agri-Fab 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator. This push spike lawn aerator features five rolling discs with spikes that provide up to 2.5 inches of aeration depth. Built like a manual lawn mower, this aerator is ready to go by easily adding a patio block to the included tray and pushing the aerator by the handle. The patio block provides the weight that the aerator needs to push the spikes deep enough into the soil to get air, water, and nutrients flowing to your grass. The Agri-Fab 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator is only 16-inches wide, making it easily maneuverable, and it’s backed by a three-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Features five seven-inch spike discs that provide up to 2.5 inches of aeration
  • Requires less physical labor than most traditional manual aerators
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Requires a patio block to weigh it down

Best Tow-Behind Plug Lawn Aerator: Brinly-Hardy 40 in. Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Type: Tow-behind Aeration Method: Plug Spike/Tine Length: 3 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 24 Weight: 66 pounds Warranty: 2-year warranty

If you've got a large lawn with a lot of packed-down soil, then take a look at the Brinly-Hardy 40 in. Tow Behind Plug Aerator. This tow-behind plug lawn aerator features 24 steel hollow tines that provide up to three inches deep of soil aeration. Each tine is replaceable if it ever breaks, and the tines are specially constructed for easier piercing of the soil. The tow-behind aerator features an all-steel construction and includes a full-enclosed weight tray so you can add up to 150 pounds to help push the tines into the earth as it moves along the ground. The Brinly-Hardy 40 in. Tow Behind Plug Aerator comes with a universal hitch so it can be attached to any lawn tractor and most ATVs. And the aerator offers a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • 24 steel tines penetrate up to three inches into the soil
  • Can add up to 150 pounds of extra weight to dig deep into soil
  • Universal hitch allows it to be attached to all lawn tractors and most ATVs

Cons

  • Must be hitched to something like a lawn tractor or ATV to work

Best Tow-Behind Spike Lawn Aerator: Agri-Fab Tow Spiker, Seeder, and Spreader

Type: Tow-behind Aeration Method: Spike Spike/Tine Length: 3 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 8 Weight: 46 pounds Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

Why have just a tow-behind spike aerator when you can have a tow-behind spike aerator, seeder, and spreader? The Agri-Fab Tow Spiker, Seeder, and Spreader is the perfect multi-tasking tool for landscapers who not only want to aerate their lawns but also want to lay down grass seed and fertilizer. The eight galvanized steel spikes provide up to three-inch-deep soil aeration. For seeding and fertilizing, the tool offers a maximum 100-pound capacity, allowing it to cover about 17,500 square feet or roughly one-third of an acre. Easily attach this tow-behind multi-tasking tool to any lawn tractor with its universal hitch. And the Agri-Fab Tow Spiker, Seeder, and Spreader comes with a three-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Spike aerator, seeder, and spreader all in one tool
  • Eight galvanized steel spikes aerate up to three inches into the soil
  • Universal hitch allows it to be attached to any lawn tractor

Cons

  • Has to be hitched to a lawn tractor or ATV to work

Best Lawn Aerator Shoes: Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes

Type: Shoes Aeration Method: Spike Spike/Tine Length: 2 inches Spike/Tine Quantity: 12 Weight: 2.2 pounds Warranty: Returnable through Amazon's standard return policy

For those who really want to get a workout while aerating their lawn, the Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes are a great option. These specially-designed shoes look like sandals with a bunch of spikes at the bottom. One size fits all — just adjust the shoe's hooks and loops to custom fit them underneath your boots or sneakers. Once fastened, you can then walk around your lawn as the attached 12 spikes dig down about two inches into your lawn's soil. The aerator shoes feature anti-slip pads so you won't slip on wet grass, and the shoes also come with a stainless steel shovel that can be used to clean off any dirt that gets stuck to the soles.

Pros

  • Shoe spike aerators are extremely easy to use
  • One size fits all
  • Anti-slip pads keep you from slipping on wet grass

Cons

  • Spikes are a bit on the short side
  • Have to be attached to a shoe to work

Do you have an aerator that helps you keep your lawn looking great? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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