One lawn care task that is often overlooked is lawn aeration. Aeration involves piercing holes into the soil to allow the grass roots to easily obtain essential nutrients such as water, fertilizer, and oxygen.
Aeration is necessary when soil is compacted. This compaction prevents the lawn from thriving since it does not permit nutrients from adequately reaching the grass roots.
Additionally, aeration also helps break down the build up of the thatch layer that also may be preventing the lawn from receiving nutrients.
The best method for lawn aeration is to either rent a core aerator machine or have a lawn care professional do the core aeration for you. Machine core aeration will quickly and efficiently pull out about three inch plugs of soil from the lawn and leave them on the grass surface.
Machine aeration is not cheap and is quite labor intensive if you do it yourself. However, it is often a necessity for larger lawns when manual aeration is not practical.
A manual lawn aerator is best for smaller lawns where walking the yard to manual perforate holes in it is practical. Even with small lawns, manual aeration can be a time consuming and laborious process.
There are several manual lawn aerator tools out there for homeowners. However, not all tools work efficiently enough to be worth the money. Below we have compiled some of the best manual lawn aerator tools for purchase. If you choose to aerate by yourself, one of these tools should be considered for the best results.
Best Manual Lawn Aerators – Quick Summary:
|Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator|
|Garden Weasel Core Garden and Lawn Aerator|
|DooDAD Creations TurfLIFE Manual Lawn Coring Aerator|
|Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool|
|Step 'N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator|
1- Yard Butler Manual Coring Aerator
- REMOVES TWO ½” WIDE 3 ½ INCH GRASS PLUG LAWN CORES, reducing soil compaction and dethatching your lawn while letting air, water and fertilizer get down to the roots of your yard.
- REDUCES RUNOFF AND PROMOTES TURF GROWTH. Your lawn will look better with less water and fertilizer.
- HAND HELD LAWN AERATOR WITH FOOT BAR FOR EXTRA LEVERAGE. Perfect garden tool for easily aerating smaller yards. Promotes vigorous root growth, strengthening tolerance to drought and heat stress.
The Yard Butler Coring Aerator is the aerator I use at my home. I have used it for several years for small areas of my lawn. I considered one of the best manual core aerators for home use.
You simply drive the two hollow tubes on the bottom of the aerator into the ground with the assistance of the foot bar and the handle. The aerator pulls out dual 1/2 inch wide by 3-1/2 inch long cores. The cores come out of the top of the tubes as you work every 6 inches to aerate the lawn.
The above process sounds flawless but not all is perfect with this aerator. If the lawn is dry, the soil will get trapped in the tubes. Of course, when the tubes are clogged, the aerate does not efficiently pull out cores.
A solution to this problem is to pull out the sprinkler and give the lawn a good soaking. The lawn should be extremely damp but not flooded or pooling with water. This will allow the cores to easily exit out of the tubes as the tool is designed to work. If the tubes happen to get clogged, have an old screwdriver handy to unclog them as needed.
Overall, this aerator is made from a heavy-duty powder coated steel that will likely last most user many years to come. It is 37 inches tall to make it easy for most people to use without strain on the upper body.
2- Garden Weasel Core Lawn Aerator
- BRING NEW LIFE TO YOUR LAWN – Do you have thin turf? Poor grass color? Compact soil? Bare patches that don’t respond to watering and fertilizers? Then you need Garden Weasel’s Core Aerator.
- How it works – compact soil keeps water, air, and nutrients from reaching grass roots. The core Aerator stimulates root growth while providing your lawn’s surface with helpful nutrients.
- Easy to use – to use, firmly grip the handle and Place foot in the stirrup. Press down firmly on the footplate to penetrate grass and soil in affected areas and repeat as needed.
The Garden Weasel Core Aerator is very similar to the Yard Butler shown above. However, there is one noticeable difference with the handles of the two aerators. The Yard Butler features a T-bar handle whereas this Garden Weasel has a straight handle.
If we had to choose between the two types of handles, we’d go with the T-bar of the Yard Butler over the straight handle on this Garden Weasel. The T-bar handle provides better grip and control of the tool. This is particularly important for a manual lawn aerator since the tool requires a lot of movement even for a smaller yard.
The ground should be wet when using this aerator to prevent it from clogging. Similar to the Yard Butler, this aerator can be unclogged with an old screwdriver if needed.
This Garden Weasel is manufactured out of carbon steel. It is designed to stand up to the elements while also being rust resistant. The aerator comes with a lifetime warranty which should speak to the quality of this tool.
Two features we love about this aerator are the footplate and height. The footplate is nice and wide to help reduce slippage and to assist in driving the tool into the ground. Furthermore, the height is 40 inches, which is a perfect height for many people to prevent excessive bending to use the tool.
See how this aerator operates in the below video.
3- DooDAD Creations Coring Aerator
- CARE FOR WHAT IS YOURS. A green lawn provides a great environment for creating lasting memories with family and friends. Lawn aeration is necessary to better deliver essential nutrients like water and fertilizer that keep grass green.
- THOUGHTFUL DESIGN. The razor sharp aerator tines are engineered for efficient plug ejection. The TurfLIFE aerator tines will cut through thatch and eject soil plugs more reliably than any bevel-tip aerator product on the market. PERIOD.
- ERGONOMIC ADVANTAGE. The TurfLIFE coring aerator is the only product on the market that uses the power of your legs for both aerator insertion and removal. This makes TurfLIFE the ideal coring aerator for people with nagging hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and back injuries. No UPPER BODY STRENGTH NEEDED.
The DooDAD Creations TurfLIFE Aerator features a unique footplate that grips the foot to create superior leverage. This allows the majority of the work to be done with the foot as opposed to the upper body, which can easily get tired.
The handle offers ample grip space to allow the hands to be placed where they feel most comfortable. It is nicely padded to help prevent hand damage during extended use.
This aerator pulls out two 1/2 inch wide by 3-1/2 inches length plugs. The tool is made out of rust resistant structural steel that is extremely durable for many seasons of use.
4- Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator
- THE BEST TOOL FOR LAWN AERATION: This essential lawn tool does not clog, will not break and is designed to work on any type of turf. Your lawn and the soil under it needs to breathe, but the build-up of lawn thatch inhibits this. The Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool breaks up compacted soil, allowing water and fertilizer to penetrate into the root zone, encouraging faster growth and healthier grass or turf.
- DEEPER SOIL PENETRATION: Utilizing the foot bar on our lawn aerator tool will ensure deeper turf aerification, creating soil cores, on average, as deep as your index finger, even in hard clay or high traffic areas. The aerating tines never clog up and soil cores eject easily. You will be confident that your lawn has been fully aerated.
- DURABLE STEEL CONSTRUCTION: Our lawn aerator tool is made with heavy-duty yet lightweight steel that meets the highest quality standards. It is powder-coated in Golf Ball white so it is easy to find on any landscape. The “T” bar handle is easy to grip and provides a more natural stance while aerating. We have full confidence that this tool will last you for many years to come, which is why we offer a lifetime warranty on our welds.
The rugged Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator is an excellent choice for both residential and spot aeration for commercial applications. It is manufactured from a high-quality powder coated steel that can take a beating. The exterior is painted white to allow the tool to easily be spotted if left in the grass.
It is made with a classic T-bar handle with cushioned hand grips for added comfort. The tines are 7 inches long to allow for deep soil penetration. This aerator will pull out 2 to 4 inch cores over each pass.
The Truly Holey comes with a lifetime warranty on welds. While this is a bit more expensive than many other manual lawn aerators, the quality is also top-notch to justify the price for many users.
5- Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator
- LIMITED TIME OFFER * SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY SALE PRICE! Faster and easier to use than other manual aerators. Simply step and tilt. This patented lawn aerator (U.S. Patent No. 8,714,275 and other patents pending) makes core aeration easy and enjoyable for do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) and professional landscapers.
- New and improved clog-resistant tines. Case-hardened for extra durability. The tines may be sharpened or replaced when worn.
- Soil must be very moist but not wet. Designed for operators between 4-feet and 6-feet 5-inches tall. Recommended minimum operator weight to use one set and two sets of tines are 80lbs and 150lbs, respectively. Recommended for aerating small yards or areas not accessible by motorized lawn aerators. It can be used to aerate large yards but will require significantly longer time and effort than a motorized lawn aerator.
The Step ‘N Tilt has a lot of useful and unique features that other aerators here do not have.
Firstly, it is equipped with an optional soil core container. This container collects the cores if you prefer not to leave them scattered on the lawn. You can then dispose of the cores or use them in the yard for things like leveling low areas or filling in bare spots to prepare for seeding.
Secondly, this aerator has four tines unlike the other two tine aerators featured here. This helps speed up the aeration process. Additionally, the tines are replaceable so if one gets damage or dull it can easily be switched out for a new one.
The tines are clog-resistant but the manufacturer recommends aerating two days after an inch of rain or watering. This will help deter the chance of clogging and make the job much easier.
One aspect of this aerator that is extremely convenient are the wheels. The wheels allow the tool to be rolled across the lawn unlike the other aerators featured here that require the tool to be carried. This helps minimize stress on the body and allows the user to get more done without quickly getting fatigued.
Lawn Aeration: FAQ
These shoes do not provide enough aeration to the lawn to be worth the money. In other words, the spikes on these shoes do not create deep enough holes to allow nutrients to properly reach the grass roots. Your best bang for the buck is one of the manual core aerators featured above that actually remove chunks of lawn soil to reduce compaction and increasing root nutrient intake.
We recommend twice a year. This should typically be done in the fall and spring. For most people this will mean in May and September when root development is near its peak. This will help establish strong growth before the harsh seasons of summer and winter roll in. View our article titled The Best Time To Aerate for more details.
Yes. In some cases the rain may be beneficial to soften hard soil. No matter the weather, we suggest testing for clogging first. If clogging is a problem, the ground may be too wet or too dry.
You will have to be careful not to hit sprinkler heads or pipes under the surfaces. Most pipes are buried deep enough to where most manual aerators will not hit them. However, there are, of course, exceptions out there. Keep in mind that the Truly Holey above does have long tines, which could be a problem for pipes buried shallow.
You do not need to rake them up. They will naturally break down within a couple of weeks and add nutrients back into the lawn. Watering and running rake over them will help break them up quicker if you do not care for their appearance.
Yes, this will allow the seeds to contact the soil better and permit the proper nutrients to feed the lawn. Aeration is essential to achieving optimal results from overseeding.
If the lawn is pooling water in spots, this may mean that the soil is too compacted to allow drainage. Aerating the lawn will loosen up the soil to allow water to seep into it. Your lawn will be healthier since it will now be able to receive water down to its roots.
Generally, core aeration or a combination of core and spike aeration by machine is best. Manual aeration is often not practical given how time consuming the process is to complete in some yards. It is often difficult to reproduce the same level of consistency and efficiency with a manual aerate as you would with a machine. That being said, manual aerators still can produce stellar results if you are willing to put in the effort. If you choose to manually aerate, be ready to break a sweat to get desirable results.