Everyone love a nice lawn, whether its a small patch for sitting or lounging on (surrounded by lots of pollinator-friendly planting), or a larger spot where the kids can play. A nice, lush, green lawn can feel as comfy as a favourite cushion. One of the key ways to achieve a great lawn, along with applying a lawn feed, is to make sure you're getting air to the soil in the lawn. All the walking, sitting and lounging on your lawn can compact the soil, making it hard for the grass to grow and hard for oxygen and water to get into the roots. Here's a little more on aerators and how they work.


How do lawn aerators work?

A grassy lawn can get impacted easily from all the activity on top of it which makes it hard to get oxygen to the soil and grass roots. Step forward the lawn aerator. Ultimately a way of putting holes into your lawn, the holes promote root growth as well as enable oxygen into the layers of soil. It also frees up the lawn to allow more water in.

What's best, a spike or plug aerator?

There are two different types of lawn aerators. A spike aerator works by literally pushing spikes into the lawn and thereby leaving holes. A plug aerator pulls out a plug of soil to create holes. A plug aerator works very hard at reducing soil impaction, and is better for heavy clay soils. The spike aerators are better for sandy or loamy soils.

When to aerate your lawn

When to do this depends a little on the grass you have. Ryegrass is the most common grass in the UK and the US, and this grass should ideally be aerated in the spring or autumn. Some experts recommend aerating your lawn every six weeks, which is definitely not how often we aerate our lawns, but may be the secret to your perfect spongy and healthy green sward.

Here's more on the best lawn mowers to buy

The best lawn aerators to buy in 2023

Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator, Manual

Plug lawn aerator

This is a heavy duty lawn aerator for particularly compacted grass. This coring aerator acts as a plug aerator, and is satisfyingly manual, which also means it's probably not quite right for you if you have a very large lawn. But for lawns that aren't too big, this one will do the job perfectly. The two plug prongs will pull up chunks of lawn, stimulating root growth and allowing for water and oxygen to get in. The plugs are about as long as an average index finger and the aerator is very sturdy, so this should be one that is happy in your shed for a long time.

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Rolling Outdoor Garden Lawn Aerator Spike Roller Gardening Tool

Plug lawn aerator

An option that's slightly easier on the back, this rolling lawn aerator has spikes that roll wherever you need them to. The spikes are 45mm long, and the length of the handle and rolling mechanism makes this a very efficient way of aerating your lawn. You will need to assemble it yourself, but once it's all put together the roller will make the job of aerating your lawn relatively pain free and very thorough. You'll need to have strength for the push down, but that's true of all the manual aerators.

Lawn Aerator Shoes

Spike lawn aerator

This is a lawn aerator for us. Think minimal hard work, where you're using your own weight to push down but barely any of your own strength to do it. Attach these nifty lawn aerators to your boots and just stomp about in the garden. These are spike aerators, rather than plug aerators, so they won't bring up chunks of lawn. The sturdy metal buckles adjust to whatever shoe size and the base is recycled plastic. The pack comes with a wrench so you can adjust the spikes and make sure you can get the shoes on simply and easily. These lawn aerator shoes are also simple to clean - you can take them off and pop them in the sink.

Electric Lawn Scarifier

Lawn aerator

An electric lawn aerator, which also triples as a scarifier and lawn rake. This electric one has five adjustable heights from 12 mm to 10mm plus a 45L grass collector box, which is big for an electric aerator. It's not a heavy option, and should be easy to push around the garden. One of the things that we always look out for in an electric tool is the length of the power cable and this one measures a generous 10m.

Einhell GC-SC 4240-P Petrol Lawn Scarifier

Lawn aerator

This petrol lawn scarifier doesn't have a lead, which makes it easy to push around the garden untethered. You can adjust the height to suit the needs of you and your lawn. The manufacturer recommends that these will work for lawns up to around 1500m2 and its 18 steel blades are there to remove moss, lawn thatch and any other weeds. At the same time it pokes holes in the soil to make those ever-needed gaps for oxygen and water to get in. The petrol engine is 212ccs and there's a collapsable canvas grass collector too.

Ride on lawn scarifyer

Lawn aerator for ride on mower

This is an adaptor for a ride-on mower, which works as a scarifier and an aerator. So if you already have a handy ride-on mower, then you don't need to buy a separate aerator, this could be everything you need, you just need to make sure your current mower has a coupling device. In areas of lots of dense moss growth, you may need some weights (not included in purchase) to push the aerator down.

Fork aerator

Fork aerator

This is a classic plug aerator, which is made from stainless steel and has replaceable tines. The tines are also open-faced, which means you will avoid clogging up the holes with the plugs from the lawn. You can easily remove them if they are damaged or too full. You use the power of your foot to press down into the lawn with the plugs and you'll free up the roots and soil to let much-needed air and water in. It measures at 110cm long.

McGregor Lawn Aerator

Long handled lawn aerator

This is similar to another spike lawn aerator on this list, but slightly cheaper. This roller aerator has 48 spikes and works using a simple manual mechanism: helped by your own strength! It doesn't need output energy, so you could call it one of the most energy efficient of the list. It's 148cm high and you can easily take it apart, which is great for storage. The spikes are 2.5cm which is more than enough of a hole to puncture into your lawn.



Daisy Bowie-Sell is digital editor of Gardens Illustrated. She has previously worked as a journalist for publications including the Daily Telegraph, WhatsOnStage and Time Out London