The Sensible Gardener

The right plant in the right location with the right conditions

Lawn aerators

Classic lawn

Classic lawn

A simple lawn aerator can bring renewed life to your lawn. Lawn aeration may be a problem in the following cases:

  • When the lawn has gotten so dense that it is actually choking itself. This might happen if you constantly overseed and fertilize your lawn. After a while, your grass may start to yellow and dry out. That’s because the grass creates a barrier so thick that it prevents the water from seeping in and the oxygen from getting to the soil below the lawn.
  • When the living grass is choked by a layer of dead grass, also known as thatch.
  • When the soil has been compacted by excessive trampling or by machinery. Water, oxygen and even roots can have a hard time penetrating compacted soils.

A lawn aerator can bring new life to your lawn in any of these cases. There are hundreds of models, but there are basically two types of hand lawn aerators.

Those that use spikes of various shapes to make small holes in the ground, and those that use hollow tines to make cores in the ground.

So which lawn aerator should you choose?

  • Spike aerators may seem easier to use. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are even models that you can attach to your shoes and that aerate your lawn when you walking on it (or so they say). Some models are acceptable, in terms of the benefits they provide, but others are a waste of time and money. In any case, none of them provide as much aeration as core aerators.
  • Core lawn aerator

    Core lawn aerator

    Core aerators (as shown in the picture) provide the best aeration and irrigation to your lawn and soil. They also come in various shapes and sizes. For small jobs, there are models that you step on to push the tines into the soil using the weight of your body. For large lawns, walk behind aerators can make the job much easier.

What are the benefits of aerating your lawn?

Let’s go back a bit on the benefits of using a lawn aerator and throw in a few ones as we go along:

  • It lets water seep in rather than roll away into streams or drains.
  • It lets oxygen penetrate the soil and thus lets your lawn as well as everything that lives in the ground breathe a lot better.
  • It lets your green fertilizers get to your plants’ roots better and faster.
  • It makes your lawn a more welcoming environment for worms, which are among your best allies, as they make the soil more permeable and richer.
  • It promotes the proliferation of micro-fauna and micro-fauna, which also make your soil richer.

So be sure to get a good lawn aerator and help your lawn breathe and drink better.

Lawns are not always easy to keep top shape. To maximize your chances, you must have a comprehensive lawn care program.



  1. Our problem is slightly unusual, I think, and seems to be the opposite of the garden being waterlogged. We have had the old lawn rotavated and re turfed last year. In spite of watering it very well, it soon started looking very poor and lots of weeds. It’s not the chaps fault who did it, as it happens that we, and other houses where we live, were built on a large disused pond that was filled in with rubble around 80 years ago. Because of this I wondered if there is just too much drainage, and no amount of watering will help, as it just disappears.
    I will try aerating the grass though, as that sounds as if I could be completely wrong and the water is running off the grass rather than going into it.

    Thanks in advance for any useful tips on this problem

    • Hi,
      When it rains hard, do you see water seeping in or just running off without penetrating the lawn? It could be one or the other.

      • If it seeps in and your lawn dries out even though there was enough rain, it means you yard drains too fast. That’s a hard one to fix. There is little that can be done without going under the turf. Organic matter added under the turf would help maintain some moisture close to the surface. A turf lawn is not an easy thing to maintain (see Lawn care is no simple task).
      • If it runs off, then you need to help it get under the turf, so aerating your lawn would be a very good idea.

      Best of luck!

  2. Is it okay to core aerate in late winter/early spring? I need to reseed my lawn in areas where we had some work done last year (it got too late to core aerate last fall). Also, do you dethatch first then aerate? Thanks so much for your time and help!

    • NickTheGardener

      January 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      If it’s OK to walk on a lawn, it’s OK to aerate. You shouldn’t walk on your lawn when it’s soft and spongy in the spring.
      It’s better to dethatch before you aerate.

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