Finding the best walk behind core aerator will make it much easier to maintain a healthy lawn. There are gas lawn aerators, push lawn aerators and electric lawn aerators that each have their own pros & cons. We’ll go over each type of walk-behind lawn aerator in more detail in the following article,
If you just want to know our top picks we recommend the Billy Goat PL1800V Vanguard Powered Reciprocating Aerator (Buy Online) if you’re looking for the best gas lawn aerator.
Otherwise, the Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator (Buy Online) is the best manual walk behind core aerator on the market.
Best Walk Behind Core Aerator
Gas Lawn Aerator – Best Walk Behind Core Aerator
The Billy Goat PL1800V PLUGR Aerator (Buy Online) is a high powered gas lawn aerator that will make short work of any size lawn. This reciprocating lawn aerator has a 5.5 HP 205cc Vanguard engine that powers the plug aeration tines and the self-propelled drive.
The Billy Goat PL1800V PLUGR has tensile hardened plug aeration tines that will punch core holes to a depth of 2.75 inches (~7 cm). The plug aeration tines are also easy to replace thanks to their screw-in design. You can also get an optional tine kit that has different style tines that will work in a wide range of turf conditions.
They Billy Goat PL1800V PLUGR can aerate up to 2 square meters per hour, and it’s very easy to operate for homeowners with any type of soil, and since it’s self-propelled it’s perfect if you have an uneven rolling lawn.
Walk Behind Aerator – Best Walk Behind Core Aerator
The Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator (Buy Online) is an innovative tool that makes it easy to aerate your lawn. This walk-behind core aerator has hollow tines that have a diameter of 0.79-inches that produce deep 3.5 inch holes.
The Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator is very easy to maneuver since the whole unit weighs just a little bit more than 21 pounds.
The Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator also comes with a soil core aeration collection box that captures the cores so you can use them on other parts of your lawn. This can be helpful if you have to fill in ruts from a lawnmower, or if you have uneven spots or depressions in your lawn.
The Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator is made for use on small to medium-sized lawns. If you have a larger lawn (0.5 acre+) then you might want to look into getting a gas-powered aerator, or a tow-behind model.
Push Lawn Aerator
The Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator (Buy Online) is a good tool for aerating small lawns. This core aerator produces 3.5-inch core holes that are 0.5-inches wide. The tool itself measures 1.75” x 8.75 x 36.5”, and it weighs 3.72 pounds.
The Yard Butler Lawn Aerator is a useful tool to have around if you have to loosen up compacted soil in a very small lawn. It’s also good for dealing with brown spots, and small compacted areas.
Overall, the Yard Butler Lawn Aerator is good spot manual lawn aerator, but if you need to cover a larger area then you’ll want to go with the Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator.
The Valuer Rolling Lawn Aerator (Buy Online) makes it easy to bring new life to a struggling lawn. This lawn aerator measures 18” x 8” x 50” and it weighs 7.5 pounds. In addition, it has a 6” diameter wheel and it comes with a 13” x 7” dirt guard.
This spike aerator has 1.2-inch tines that drive themselves into compacted soil with minimal effort. All you need to do is push the roller forward and the sharp tines will easily pierce the ground. These types of rolling aerators are good for sandy soil, or for lightly compacted lawns. However, if you live in an area with thick clay soil then a core aerator is a better option.
Best Electric Lawn Aerator
The Sun Joe Electric Lawn Scarifier (Buy Online) will help you get your lawn in shape in the spring and fall. The Sun Joe Electric Scarifier has a powerful 12-amp motor It measures 21” x 23” x 40”. and it weighs 27 pounds.
The Sun Joe Electric Lawn Scarifier loosens lawn thatch up to a depth of 0.4 inches (10 mm). This process helps break up roots and it will open up the top layer of compacted soil under your lawn. This allows nutrients and water to more easily penetrate the soil, and it encourages the grass to produce new shoots.
The Sun Joe Dethatcher is a good alternative to a core aerator if you live in an area with lightly compacted sandy soil. Sandy soil usually doesn’t need to be aerated that deeply, and deep core holes usually quickly collapse in sandy soil.
The Sun Joe Electric Lawn Scarifier is also backed by a no questions asked 2-Year Warranty, and Sun Joe also offers online and phone customer support.
Tow Behind Lawn Aerator
The Agri-Fab Tow Plug Aerator (Buy Online) will make short work of almost a large lawn. This 48” wide plug aerator has 3-inch tines that penetrate deep into the soil and it has a universal hitch that fits most rider mowers, tractors, or UTV’s. The plug aerator itself weighs 92.5 pounds, but it can support an additional 175 pounds of weight to pierce dense clay soil.
The Agri-Fab Tow Plug Aerator has 32 self-sharpening plug tines, and it has durable flat-free tires. And the Agri-Fab Tow Plug Aerator is covered by a full 3-Year Limited consumer warranty.
The Yard Tuff Plug Aerator (Buy Online) is an excellent core aerator for large lawns (0.5 acre+). This core aerator measures 51” x 8” x 18.5 and it weighs 110 pounds. It also has 4″ x 10″ pneumatic wheels, that work especially well on rough terrain.
The Yard Tuff Plug Aerator has 32 coring plugs that penetrate the soil to a depth of 2.5-inches. It also can support additional weight on the top of the unit to more easily penetrate dense soil. The frame is also powder-coated, so it won’t easily scratch even if you use cinder blocks for additional weight.
The BLUEBIRD Plug Aerator (Buy Online) is the best commercial lawn aerator for large lawns that are over an acre in size. This aerator measures 55” D x 34.5” H x 45” W , and it weighs 200 pounds.
The BLUEBIRD Plug Aerator has a universal hitch that will attach to most tractors, lawnmowers, and UTV/ATV’s. It also has 10” x 3” semi-pneumatic tires that provide excellent stability on uneven ground.
The BLUEBIRD Plug Aerator has 32 interchangeable closed spoon tines that penetrate to a depth of 3-inches. This tow-behind aerator even comes with 5 weight containers that you can fill with water to improve the tines penetration power.
The BLUEBIRD Plug Aerator is also backed by a full 2-Year Warranty on workmanship and materials. And if you buy the BLUEBIRD Plug Aerator online it has a 180-day return window at Home Depot.
Best Lawn Aerator Shoes
Lawn Aerator Shoes (Buy Online) are a simple and easy way to quickly aerate a small lawn. These strap on soles have 13 heavy-duty 2-inch spikes that penetrate the ground as you walk around.
Ohuhu Lawn Aerator Shoes are perfect for small lawns or if you just have a small area of compacted ground. They are also very small and lightweight, and you can store them easily when they are not in use since they measure 13.23” x 5.6” x 2.4”, and they only weigh 2.22 pounds.
Lawn Aerator Buyer’s Guide
A lawn aerator is a vital piece of lawn care equipment if your serious about maintaining a healthy lawn all season long. They help keep your lawn green, healthy, and beautiful by improving the soil conditions that support your lawn.
The key to having a healthy green lawn is to start with maintaining healthy soil. The soil under most lawns can become compacted due to constant foot traffic, or it can be naturally compacted if you live in an area with heavy clay soil.
This results in grass that is unable to get access to air, water, nutrients, and fertilizer, which basically starves the plant’s roots of everything they need to thrive.
Types of Lawn Aerators
Most lawn aerators are either pushed or pulled across a lawn. These types of lawn aerators are good for large flat lawns with minimal obstructions. However, if you have a smaller lawn then a manual aerator or aerator shoes might be better suited for the job.
Manual coring aerators/plug aerators work like garden forks, and they require you to push the lawn aerator into the ground by hand, or by using a foot bar that allows you to more easily drive the aerator tines into the soil.
Tow-behind models are the next step up and they are hitched to the back of a lawn mower or tractor, and they are well suited to large 1 acre+ lawns.
How Does a Lawn Aerator Work?
Lawn aerators work by driving spikes or core aeration hole tines into the ground. They create narrow channels that are about 2-inches deep and less than an inch wide. These channels allow water, air, and fertilizer to more easily reach the roots in the soil. This helps the grass roots grow faster, and it can help prevent unsightly brown spots from forming on your lawn.
How Do I Use a Lawn Aerator?
Most lawn aerators are simple to use and all they do is drive a spike or core aerator tine into the soil. Spike aerators generally only need to be pulled or pushed across the lawn and the spikes will easily penetrate the soil and provide a decent level of lawn aeration.
Core aerators/plug aerators need more force applied to drive the tines into the soil. Manual core aerators/plug aerators usually rely on the operator’s body weight to push the tines into the soil. While gas models have enough mass along with their powerful motors to drive the tines into the soil for maximum lawn aeration.
How Much Does a Lawn Aerator Cost?
Most lawn aerators aren’t that expensive and you can spend in the range of $50 to $100 on a lawn aerator for a small lawn. If you have a larger piece of property it might be a better idea to get a gas-powered lawn aerator or an electric lawn aerator. These types of lawn aerators will cost more but they will save you lots of effort and time.
You can also get a tow behind spike aerator which will cost around $150 – $250, and you’ll need a lawn tractor or UTV/ATV to hitch it onto.
Lawn aerator shoes are another alternative if you want to save money aerating a small lawn, They tend to cost around 20-dollars and they are very lightweight and easy to store.
When Should I Aerate My Lawn?
It’s recommended that you aerate your lawn at least once a year in the early spring. This will help loosen compacted soil and get your lawn off to a good start for the growing season.
You also can aerate your lawn in fall to help reduce any soil compaction that might have occurred during the summer.
You shouldn’t aerate your lawn in the summer since your lawn will be experiencing heat stress, and in some cases, it might even be dormant.
It’s a good idea to aerate your lawn when it’s cool outside, and on a day after a moderate rainfall. This will ensure that your lawn can make use of the added nutrients and moisture in the spring and fall.
Lawn Maintenance Pro Tip:
You should aerate your lawn twice a year if your lawn is highly prone to soil compaction especially if it has high clay content.