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What are the Different Types of Yard Aerators?

Yard aerators are essential for a healthy lawn, coming in various types such as spike, plug, and liquid aerators. Spike aerators puncture the soil, plug aerators remove cores, and liquid aerators condition the earth chemically. Each type offers unique benefits to soil compaction and grass vitality. Curious about which aerator is best for your lawn? Let's delve deeper into their differences.
Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

Over time, the top layers of soil in a yard can become compacted, which can make it harder for water and air to reach the roots of the grass. A lawn aerator, or yard aerator, is a lawn care tool that helps aerate the top layers of soil. These usually work by making small holes in the soil, and letting essential nutrients reach the roots of the grass more easily. There are basically two types of yard aerators. Spike aerators work by simply poking holes in the soil, while core aerators work by removing bits of dirt, which are sometimes called plugs.

Although they are not considered to be as effective as core aerators, spike yard aerators are generally less expensive. These types of aerators are constructed with solid metal tines that are designed to poke holes in the soil by pushing it aside. A couple types of spike aerators include hand-foot aerators and push aerators. There are also attachments that can be put on lawn tractor tires and shoes. Mower spike aerators and sandal aerators, however, are not considered to be very effective, since they usually do not penetrate the earth deeply enough.

Aerator shoes use long metal spikes that drive holes into the ground.
Aerator shoes use long metal spikes that drive holes into the ground.

Hand-foot yard aerators usually resemble a shovel, with solid spikes instead of a shovel blade. There is typically a handle at the top of these tools, as well as a place for a person to press down with her foot, which helps the spikes penetrate the earth. Many times, these require a lot of work and physical strength. Because of this, even though it is a relatively simple and inexpensive tool, most lawn care experts believe that they are best for smaller yards.

Aeration helps keep a lawn from looking thin and brown.
Aeration helps keep a lawn from looking thin and brown.

Push aerators usually consist of a hollow barrel with a number of solid spikes sticking out of it. The barrel can be filled with either water or sand to make it heavier and push the spikes deeper. They are often pushed, which rolls the spike covered barrel along the ground. These types of spike yard aerators are better for larger yards, but they still require strength and stamina to use.

Core yard aerators use hollow spikes instead of solid ones, and they lift out a small piece of soil every time a spike is pulled out of the ground. Like spike yard aerators, there are a few types of core aerators. First, there are manual core aerators, which are very similar to the shovel-like spike aerators, except the spikes are hollow, not solid. There are also core aerators that can be towed behind a lawn tractor, as well as gas-powered or mechanical core aerators. Both of these options are better for larger yards.

Core yard aerators that are towed behind a tractor are very similar to the push spike aerators. They are, however, usually much larger, and, of course, they are hooked to a tractor so they can be towed. Core yard aerators that are propelled by a power source, such as gas, are considered to be very easy to use, but they are much more expensive than other options. To operate these, all a person has to do is simply walk behind it and steer the machine in the direction he wishes it to go. They can be a bit bulky, though, and getting the hang of steering them can take some practice.

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Discussion Comments


I understand that places like golf courts and other lawns that get packed down for one reason or another might need to be aerated every so often to keep them healthy, but I think aerating is overrated for the average lawn.

Not every yard needs aerating every fall or every spring. Remember, the ants and worms are nature's chosen aerators for lawns and gardens, and for the average lawn they do a really good job if we stop using pesticides to kill them.


@Animandel - Like the article points out, some aerating methods don't work as well as others. The shoes and spikes like you are talking about are one of the methods that doesn't reach as far into the soil as you really need. I guess they do a little, but they are not as good as some of the other devices mentioned in this article.

To be honest, I think you would be just as well served to take a stick and poke holes in the ground as you would be wearing those shoes with the spikes and walking around your yard.


I saw an advertisement in a magazine for the shoes with spikes that you can wear to aerate your lawn. I have heard good and bad things about these, but they aren't expensive, so I bought a pair for each of my kids, my husband and a pair for me. I figured why should we pay someone else to aerate the lawn or rent one of those machines when we can do the same thing naturally.

After all, we are always in the yard and walking and running over the grass, so we might as well be aerating the lawn while we are out there.

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    • Aerator shoes use long metal spikes that drive holes into the ground.
      By: NinaMalyna
      Aerator shoes use long metal spikes that drive holes into the ground.
    • Aeration helps keep a lawn from looking thin and brown.
      By: Elenathewise
      Aeration helps keep a lawn from looking thin and brown.