Q. What are the benefits of using a manual aerator over other types?
A. If you have a small lawn (less than 500 square feet) or you do not mind spending a few days aerating, you can save money by doing it yourself without having to rent the bulkier machines or hiring a professional. Even if you do choose to do the latter, the smaller manual hand aerator tool is great for getting into corners and hard-to-reach places that the larger aerators tend to miss.
Q. How much do they cost?
A. A basic two or three prong manual aerator or hand aerator starts around $25-$30, which is much cheaper than coring machines which cost $50-100 rent and a few $1000s to buy.
Q. How do I use a manual aerator?
A. These tools have a long handle with prongs attached to a cross-piece at the bottom. Holding the handle at the top, the prongs are pushed into the ground as you step on the cross-piece. Then they are pulled back out of the ground and moved to another section, ready to be pushed in again. Ones with more than three prongs are usually harder to use because they are more difficult to push in and pull out of the ground. Make sure that the ground is soft enough before you aerate. Watering awhile beforehand is usually a good idea.
Q. How does aeration help my lawn?
A. Regardless of how you aerate, the process creates pockets of air in the soil that make it easier for roots to get the nutrients, water, oxygen, sunlight and room they need to grow deep, producing healthier and thicker grass.
Q. Should I choose solid tines or coring prongs?
A. The aeration is more effective when cores of dirt are removed. The larger holes left when dirt plugs are taken out do not close up as quickly as the holes punched in by spikes, allowing more and longer access to the extra space and nutrients for the roots. Each type can make holes up to three inches deep, but the spiked tines are much easier to get into the ground when it is harder, making it a good choice for when the soil is drier.
A. Generally, it is best done in spring and fall for cool season grasses. Warm season grasses benefit the most from early spring to early summer aeration. If you don’t know whether you have warm or cool season grass, notice when it rapidly grows and when it goes dormant. If it grows very fast in the spring and the fall then it is cool season. Warm season grass does well in the late spring and the summer. Also, aerate when the ground is soft, but not too wet. If the dirt is too wet, the holes will not last as long. If the dirt is too dry and hard, it will be harder for the prongs to make deep holes and pull up quality dirt plugs.