Last Updated on March 19, 2023 by Editors
There are many benefits to aerating your lawn, including improved drainage, reduced compaction, and better overall root health. Manual aerators or manual lawn aerators are a cost effective way to achieve these benefits without having to hire a professional.
This guide discusses lawn aeration and how you can get the perfect inexpensive manual aerators for lawn, in detail. Furthermore, it provides some helpful tips like maintaining manual lawn aerators. You will find out why the lawn aerator hand tools are great garden hand tools to aerate lawn in small gardens.
Table of Contents
Why aerate lawn
The soil has pores. These are spaces that are occupied by water and air (oxygen). Unfortunately, lawn’s soil becomes compacted over time. This means that these pores are getting pressed and become smaller. Furthermore, this will lead to poor drainage and reduced soil oxygen levels. The leading factor in soil compaction is human and pet activity over it. Soil compaction along with low soil pH, poor soil quality and structure can restrict the turf grass growth and cause thatch accumulation. Lawn aeration is important. Therefore, if you want to have a healthy and gorgeous lawn then you need to aerate it. You will have to give its soil some air.
What does lawn aeration do
Lawn aeration improves the vigor of the lawn and the turfgrass’ health and growth. Additionally, it helps you with thatch control. This means limited thatch built-up and your lawn will be thicker leaving no room for weeds to grow where they are not supposed to. To accomplice all that you have to allow the soil to breathe, drink and eat. Which means that you have to enhance the oxygen levels in the lawn’s soil, improve soil drainage and make paths for nutrients to reach the root system. All this can be accomplished with the aeration of the lawn’s soil.
When to aerate lawn
Lawns need aeration about once a year more or less. No less than once every three years. The best times to aerate lawn in Midwest states is usually August or early September. If you live in warmer locations you can aerate in Spring, just before planting new grass (overseeding). In this case there is a very good chance that your lawn will be invaded by digitaria sanguinalis (large crabgrass). The annoying large crabgrass dies off in Autumn. This is another reason why you should choose aerating lawn in Fall. Generally, you should avoid to aerate lawn in Summer (June to August) or dry seasons.
What to do before lawn aeration
Before you aerate your lawn, you should dethatch and mow it. In addition, it is best advised that the lawn soil should be soft or moist. If you plan to aerate your lawn, do it after a rainfall. If it didn’t rain at all then you must do something about it. Whether you are going to use a mechanized lawn aerator or a manual/hand one you should soak the areas with hard soil prior to aeration. The soil shouldn’t be too dry or wet.
How to aerate lawn
To aerate your lawn, you have to either remove cores of soil from the ground or in the case of spike aeration to puncture the soil with spikes. To accomplish these, you will have to use an expensive outdoor power equipment or pay big bucks for an aerate lawn service. Also, you can aerate lawn by hand (or feet). Most of the times, to aerate lawn yourself you have to use gardening hand tools like the manual lawn aerators.
The question usually asked is, “what does an aerator do for your lawn that can’t be done by any other garden hand tool?”. The obvious answer to this question is “it’s the only hand tool that can be utilized to aerate lawn”. The exception to this is the garden fork. You can use the garden fork like a spike aerator to aerify your lawn.
How deep to aerate lawn
The real question here is where the root level of your lawn is. With lawn aeration you make ways for oxygen, water and fertilizers to reach the root system of the grass. Also, these paths will be space for root expansion. Generally, to take care of your home lawn an aeration depth of two to three inches deep is good enough.
What to do after aerating lawn
A smart way to further improve the health of your lawn’s soil is to place a thin layer of composted material, rich in organic matter, on top of the established lawn. This process is called topdressing. The thin layer of topsoil should be no more than half inch in height. Topdressing can be performed immediately following aeration. The results of this will be even better soil structure, improved soil drainage and more soil aeration.
As mentioned in this article, there are some reasons why Fall is one of the best times to aerate lawn.
An additional reason is overseeding, especially if you live in Southern states. Typically, September is the best month to saw new grass seeds. After aerating lawn and topdressing it, you can do the overseeding.
What is lawn aerator
Aeration is a must for a flourishing lawn, and you can make the process more efficient with a lawn aerator. In most cases, the lawn aerator is the tool to make holes in the lawn’s soil. These holes will become paths for the air to reach the root system of your lawn.
What does lawn aerator do
Whether they are machines, manual tools, shoes or attachments to tractors and mowers, the lawn aerators have one main purpose. To create a stronger and more gorgeous lawn by making holes to it. The holes promote the soil aeration of the lawn. Lawn aerators can help your lawn to become stronger, thicker and healthier
Types of aerators for lawn aeration
There are many different kinds of lawn aerators on the market. If you visit a hardware shop or amazon.com you will find pull behind aerators, push lawn aerators, lawn aerator rollers, manual spike and core aerators, aerator shoes and others. The most important factor to determine their type is how they make holes to the ground!
1. Core aerators for lawn aeration
The core aerators are sometimes called plug aerators because of their function. They have hollow tines that penetrate the soil. They remove a small plug (soil core) of it to create a hole. This process is the most beneficial for aerating the soil of lawns. Not only because it aerates without compacting the soil but also because the plugs will dissolve back to the ground.
2. Spike aerators for lawn aeration
The spike aerators penetrate the soil of the lawn. They have solid tines that make holes to soil but they cannot remove any of it. The spike aeration is not as beneficial as coring because it creates holes by simply poking holes into soil. This method squeezes the soil; thus, it compacts it. Typically, the use of spike aerators for lawn aeration is recommended only for lawns that have a low level of compaction.
Cost to aerate lawn
There are many ways to aerate your lawn. Some are better than others and some are more convenient. The cost-effective lawn aeration is when you aerate lawn by hand.
The best way to aerate lawn
The best way to aerate your lawn is to use an outdoor power tool like a lawn aerator machine. If you own a tractor or lawn mower you can use a pull behind aerator (tow aerator) by attaching it to your tractor or mower. In either case you can buy or rent and since you are going to spend big bucks anyway, choose a core aerator. The cost to rent a machine to aerate lawn is at least $100 for a day, plus the transportation costs of the machine. A good pull behind aerator attachment for tractors or mowers costs approximately $250 and up to $2,000 depending on functions and quality.
The easy way to aerate lawn
The easiest, most convenient, no-effort way to aerate your lawn is to just call an aerate lawn service. The cost varies from $100 to $400 for a small flat lawn (about 1,000 square feet).
The cheapest way to aerate lawn: Manual aerators for lawn
Aerating your lawn can be costly. However, there are some good news. You don’t have to spend a fortune to aerate your lawn. Actually, lawn aeration costs can be greatly reduced by using a manual lawn aerator. If your lawn is, say 1,000 square feet or smaller, you don’t want to spend a lot of money and you need to aerate it then:
- You can use your garden fork
- Buy a manual lawn aerator. A good one costs about $30.
- Buy a pair of lawn aerator sandals if you have strong feet and like to spend some time on your grass.
Why aerate lawn with manual aerators
The main advantage of a manual aeration tool is its size. It is smaller than the others and a lot more portable. With it, it is easy to aerate lawn in smaller and tight areas. Also, it is the most convenient garden aerator tool. Using a lawn aerator like the manual aeration tool is the best choice for lawn aeration on slopes. Moreover, the manual aerator is the only tool you can use for aeration on very steep slopes.
As mentioned before in this article, manual aerators cost a few bucks. On the flip side, renting or buying a non-manual lawn aerator will cost at least three times more. The same applies in the case you hire a lawn aeration service. Additionally, if you use a machine to aerate lawn it will need some kind of power like electricity stored in a battery or gas to operate.
Manually aerate lawn with manual aerators
Manual lawn aerator tools are very simple to use. What makes the manual lawn aerators special is the fact that you can use them whenever you want. If you lived in a certain place for many years then you probably noticed that most homeowners aerate their lawns at the same period. The reasons for this are obvious. The climate of the area, the soil composition and the types of grass that are used for lawns are almost the same for all the homeowners of that place. Which means that all of them will want to aerate their lawns during the same season as you.
Inevitably, this causes availability problems to your local hardware stores that rent machines for aeration. At the same time, you will face the same problem when you will try to hire one of your local lawn services or contractors to aerate your lawn.
Types of manual aerators for lawn
As a homeowner when you start to make plans for your lawn aeration you should not have in mind that you have to aerate all of it. Most of the times, you will have to aerate only some problematic parts of the lawn. This is another reason why the inexpensive lawn aerator hand tools are perfect for small lawn areas. There are two types of manual lawn aerators: Spike and core aerators. In most cases, spike aerators look like a garden fork, but some other spike aerators are like sandals.
1. Aerator Shoes (Spike type manual aerators for lawn)
The lawn aerator shoes are also known as lawn spike shoes and aerator spike shoes. As their name implies the spike shoes for grass belong to the spike aerator type. Contrary to their name though, they are not shoes per se, they are sandals! Like every spike aerator they create holes in the ground by pushing the soil sideways as the solid shaped spikes punch holes into the soil. Typically, the spikes of these sandals are 2 inches long. They penetrate the soil with ease because they benefit from all the user’s weight. This doesn’t mean that they are very convenient when you use them for lawn aeration though. On the other side, you aerate your lawn with almost no cost.
2. Manual core aerators (Coring type manual aerators for lawn)
The manual core aerator is a sod coring tool which has two to five hollow tines (teeth). There is no surprise to its function. The tines of the manual core aerator remove the cores (plugs) of soil from the lawn instead of pushing it aside to create holes.
Which is the best place to buy manual aerators for lawn?
If you plan to buy a lawn aerator of the coring type then it is very important to inspect it before you buy it! The aerators of this type have tubes (hollow tines). Unfortunately, it’s not rare that the welding joints within the tubes are not cleaned up properly. If you plan to buy from online stores then you can look at amazon.com. At amazon you can find spike and coring aerators, manual or powered ones, manual rolling aerators and more.
Maintenance for manual lawn aerators
In order to keep your manual aerator in top shape and use it for many years you should do some regular maintenance.
Cleaning manual aerators for lawn
Remove the soil, thatch and other remains. You can use a brush to remove the dried soil from the tines. Clean it with water and soap. Use a towel to remove the moisture. Be careful because the tines are sharp and can cut you.
Remove rust from manual lawn aerators
If you notice rust on the manual aerator tool use a sandpaper to rub and remove it. Afterwards, apply an anti rust lubricant like WD40 to protect it from corrosion.
Sharpening manual lawn aerators
In order to penetrate the soil with ease, the tines of this lawn tool must be sharp. If they are dull then you should sharpen them. You can use a bastard file to sharpen the tines. After that use a towel to remove the metal remains and apply some oil to the metal tines.
Storing manual aerators for lawn
Store your aerator in a dry place like your garage or your garden tool shed. Remember to oil the metal parts of this aeration tool prior to putting it away before winter.
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