Are Lawn Aerators Any Good?

If you are experiencing difficulties getting your lawn into a nice lush and thick state, and you have tried everything from nutrients, fertilizer, and a strict watering regime, it may be time to do some lawn aeration. Especially when your soil is compact, a lawn aerator will do a good job of creating a healthier growing environment.

Lawn aerators are good in the sense that they loosen compact soil under your lawn, directly improving the water drainage, fertilization uptake, and root growth of your turf. Lawn aeration breaks up the thatch layer, introduces oxygen into the top layer, promoting microbial activity in the soil.

Lawn aeration is a vital cog in any lawn maintenance plan. If your lawn is lush and thick, with little to no thatch, then aeration is probably not needed. However, if your lawn is built on a soil type that is very compressed, especially clay soil, then aeration could be the missing link in getting your soil spongey and soft, able to drain freely and grow to its full potential.

Are Lawn Aerators Any Good?

Lawn aerators is a massively popular lawn care service that directly benefits your lawn’s health, as well as your household expenses. Lawn aeration can benefit any soil type. However, very compact soils, like clay soils, will benefit the most.

Compacted soils restrict root growth due to small pores, do not allow for the required air exchange, and discourage the micro-bacterial activity required for soil to be healthy. Your grassroots needs air and water to grow healthily.

The Benefits Of Aerating Your Lawn

Lawn aerators create passages (plugs) in your topsoil that create little pipelines for water, air, nutrients, and fertilization to reach the root system of your grass. There are many benefits of aerating your lawn, especially if you sit with clay (compacted) soil underneath your grass.

Reduces Soil Compaction

Clay-based soils and lawns that suffered through a long winter season (heavy snow loads and significant rainfall) will suffer from soil compaction. Compacted soil will result in the insufficient transfer of oxygen, nutrients, diminished microbial activity, and the pooling of water.

The best-proven method for relieving topsoil compaction is aeration. An annual aeration of your soil can be likened to tilling a garden in preparation for new planting. Clay soil should be aerated two times a year as a minimum.

Improves The Soil’s Oxygen Content

Your lawn’s root system needs to breathe, as this is critical to developing healthy and deep roots. Core aeration constructively perforates your lawn’s base, ensuring that oxygen reaches the root system, providing breaths of fresh air to your lawn.

Reduces Thatch Barrier

A thin layer of thatch (grassroots, stems, clippings, and debris) is a natural and positive occurrence. It’s when this thatch barrier becomes thick, depriving your soil and grass-root system of oxygen, rainwater, and nutrients, that you will be sitting with a problem. If this is a problem you have than check out our article about how to fix that thick layer of thatch.

Aeration helps reduce excessive thatch by puncturing the thatch barrier thousands of times, opening up regular passageways so that the root system of your grass can absorb nutrients. Secondly, aeration removes soil cores, bringing micro-organisms to the surface, which speeds up the decomposition of excessive thatch.

Reduces Runoff And Improves Soil Drainage

Compacted lawns and soils with a thick thatch barrier struggle with water pooling and overall sogginess due to melting snow or heavy rain. If you have a sloping property and compacted soil, you know firsthand how water seems just to run off your lawn. If a spongy lawn is specifically your problem, check out our article here about what causes it and how to fix it.

Aeration will break up heavy thatch, relieve your soil of compaction, greatly improve your lawn’s soil drainage, eliminating the problem of run-off water. You will notice that your monthly water bill is decreasing as you are not wasting water trying to get your lawn wet.

Drought And Heat Protection

Removing cores during core aeration opens up thousands of passageways that bring moisture deep into your soil. Deep-rooted lawn systems will be able to access moisture found deeper down in the soil during times of drought, as moisture won’t be found close to the surface.

Regular core aeration “trains” the root system to grow deeper to where the moisture will be in times of drought, ensuring that your lawn will have greater tolerance to heat-related stress. If not taken care of, this can cause your lawn to turn yellow and brown, check out our article here to tell if it is already too late.

Enhances Fertilizer Uptake

Don’t waste your time and money spreading fertilizer on a lawn where the soil is compacted and the thatch excessive. Under these circumstances, your lawn will barely benefit from the fertilizer.

Throw in a bit of wind and run-off water, and your granular fertilization stands little to no chance. During the spring and fall, aerating will ensure that your fertilizer reaches the intended target, the soil base.

Enhance Germination Outcomes When Over-Seeding

The same hazards apply to new grass seed (over-seeding) on a compacted, unaerated lawn. The same scenario as the fertilizing attempt will play out. You will be wasting money and time.

Birds and rodents love the taste of grass seeds, and throwing the seeds on an unaerated lawn is like setting a dinner table for our animal friends. Aeration improves seed-to-soil contact, and deeper seed placement in the soil will boost germination chances.

Reboots Your Lawn And Assists New Turf Growth

What you want to happen each year is the introduction of new lawn shoots that will keep your lawn vibrant and healthy. The healthier your lawn, the more resistant it will be against insects and harmful weeds.

New lawn shoots require growing space, and aeration provides it with this space. See core aeration as a lawn’s system reboot: Removing old cores and thatch, making space for healthier new grass to make up that space.

Helps Reduce Weeds

Weeds are known to thrive in weak, thinly spread, and less cared for turfgrass. Core aeration does not kill weeds directly; instead, it promotes a healthy environment for your lawn to grow in. Weeds struggle to develop and grow when your lawn is thick and healthy.

Helps Reduce Insects

Insects love to lay their eggs in damp, thatch-filled lawns with a thin grass covering. Core aeration will not kill the insects directly but makes the lawn less inviting by promoting a healthy and thicker turfgrass, forcing insects to move on to turf that is easier to infest.

Creates Free Top Dressing

Performing core aeration results in many dark brown cores scattered across your lawn. These cores should not be raked away; they will naturally break down and be absorbed back into the lawn.

A free top-dressing if you like, considering that these cores contain nutrients that promote further growth and soil microbes that will feed on the thatch barrier.

Types Of Lawn Aerators

Different strokes for different folks. The type of lawn aerator you decide to use, or the aeration method, will largely depend on the soil type that you have under your lawn. Let us discuss lawn aerators and their different aeration methods when using them on your lawn.

Core Aerators

Core aerators are the most powerful method for aerating compacted clay soils; they remove soil cores, leaving holes in the lawn. Core aeration may look ugly to an outsider, but looks can be deceiving, as this method helps air, water, fertilization, and nutrients reach the grass’s root system, forcing it to grow deeper.

Here are two types of tools to use when performing core aeration:

Spike Aerators

This method of aeration is less invasive when introducing oxygen into the soil. Spike aerators aerate the soil by pushing in spikes at regular intervals. The spike aeration method is best used on sandy, soft, and loose soils when preparing them for a light compost application or when planning to over-seed your lawn.

Spike aeration should not be used on compacted or clay soils. When you push a spike into the clay, the clay will compact to fit the spike, losing porosity in the process. Although a manual roller and a mower attachment may handle tougher soils, they are fit for use on loose and sandy soils. 

Here are a few types of spike aerators that you can use:

The mower spike aerator is a spike roller that can be towed behind vehicles:

  • ATVs
  • UTVs
  • Lawn Tractors


Lawn aerators are essential in creating a healthy, lush lawn. Do your lawn a favor and aerate it at least once a year, twice for good measure.

Manny Moore

Getting my hands dirty and building a place that me and my small family love is a driving factor for what I do and how I do it. I want to share what I have learned and practiced so that it is just that much easier for everyone to have another tool in their tool belt. Your home should be a place that you love and feel comfortable in and your backyard should be no different.

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