Lawn Aerator Equipment


When choosing lawn aerator equipment, you don't have very many choices, but you really need to know the difference between the few types that are out there.  I will briefly explain them here.


The most popular among lawn care professionals is the core aerator, like the close-up pictured above.  The core aerator has hollow tines that make 2"-3" deep holes that are 2"-4" apart.  Some models have the tines mounted on a drum and rotate as you pull the drum across the ground.  Other models have sets of vertical tines that move up and down at high rates of speed. 

In either case, as the aerator is moved, the tines are pushed into the ground.  As they come out of the ground, a small finger like core (about 3/4" in diameter) is pulled out.  As the tine goes into the ground again, the core that is inside the tine is pushed out by the new core that is being pulled up.

The cores that remain on the ground when you are finished can be left there to dry up and break down naturally.  Some people pull a drag over them once they are dry enough to break apart easily.  If you are really ambitious I know of some that rake up the cores and pile them up for future use as topdressing.


Hard soil can make using an aerator a nightmare.  Before using this type of aerator, make sure you water the lawn the night before or use it after a rain so that your soil is not to hard.  This type of aerator pushes into the ground by using the weight of the machine and any added weights you attach.  If the ground is really hard, the core aerator may not penetrate.


The type of lawn aerator equipment that I personally prefer is what I call a powered coreless aerator or Aera-vator.  It also has tines that penetrate the soil about 2"-3" deep and approximately 2"-4" apart. The big difference is that these tines are solid and are about 3/4" in diameter. They are offset on a shaft and are driven by a PTO or some type of gearbox.

When the power is turned on, the tines vibrate from side to side.  This vibration loosens the ground around the tines, making it loose enough for the tines to be driven into the ground, creating a hole. In the following picture, you can see the difference when the power is turned on and off.

There are a number of advantages in using this type of lawn aerator equipment:

  • Because of the way the tines are driven into the ground, you don't have to soften the soil first before you use it. It is so powerful that I have actually broken a few rocks in half with it.
  • You do not have any cores to pick up with this type of aerator. Because I aerate a number of high school football fields, this is a big advantage. They can continue to use the fields right away without having the muddy cores getting them all dirty. I had one team practicing while I was aerating one time.
  • Because of the vibration needed for the tines to enter the ground it also loosens the soil between the holes somewhat. A customer once asked me to go over her garden a couple of times with my coreless aerator before she planted it, and it was loose enough to plant.


The third type of aerator I’d like to talk about is the spike or blade aerator. This type of lawn aerator equipment is most common to the homeowner because of it’s low cost and availability at most home centers.

They operate by using a round blade that has points or spikes on it. As it is pulled, it rotates and pokes a hole in the ground about 1/8” wide and about 2” deep. Yes, this type of lawn aerator equipment does help by creating holes through the thatch layer, but the downfall is that the holes are very narrow and too far apart to do much good.

For most of you that may only aerate you lawn once or twice a year, it is best to rent the better aerators, like the core or coreless aerators, from a lawn & garden rental place.  If you feel unsure how to aerate, call a lawn care professional in your area and get a quote for aerating.

And remember - HAVE A HAPPY LAWN!!!

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