A healthy lawn requires regular maintenance and a few key tools. One of the best tools you can get, is a yard aerator. Renting an aerator, or buying a hand aerator is a great way to poke holes in the soil to allow air, water and nutrients better access to roots.
In your search for an aerator, the first thing you need to decide is whether you will use a spike aerator or a core aerator. Spike aerators have solid tines. They do not remove any soil, but rather push the soil aside to create a hole. Core aerators use hollow tines to actually remove a ‘core’ of soil. You can also use a spike aerator to aerate your yard.
Using Spike Aerators
If you have soil that is low on clay content, you want to use a spike aerator. There are five basic styles of spike aerators. The first are hand-foot push spikes and rolling lawn aerators. Hand-foot push spikes are shaped a bit like a shovel and have a spot for you to place your foot to achieve full penetration. This type of aerator is extremely time-consuming, so it is really only useful for a small area of land. The rolling barrel spikes are pushed like a manual lawn mower and have a large hallow barrel that is filled with sand or water to create more weight. The added weight puts enough pressure on the spikes that they penetrate the surface of the soil. Because these have several spikes that rotate around the barrel, they cover a larger area of land in a much shorter time than do hand-foot push spikes.
The three other types of spike aerators are lawn mower spikes, push spikes and foot spikes. The first two listed do not have enough weight exerted on them to actually penetrate the surface, and the foot spikes are almost always too shallow to do much.
Using a Core Yard Aerator
If you want to really aerate your lawn, then the only way to go is with core aerators. There are two main types to choose from. A manual core aerator is similar to the hand-foot push spike aerator. It looks like a shovel and has a notch for placing your foot. The difference is that the tines are hallow and remove cores of soil. These are very time-consuming, but will effectively aerate small patches of grass. The other type is a power aerator. These look like a large lawn mower and have a cylinder surrounded with hallow tines. You can usually adjust the depth of the penetration up to about 3”. In most cases, you will want to use the deepest setting. These machines are very powerful and heavy, so they require a bit of muscle to run. They usually way at least 200 pounds, and have a strong kickback when started. If you choose to rent a power aerator, you will need to use a pickup truck or have it delivered.
Aerator rentals usually runs around $20 an hour or about $70 a day. Purchasing a core aerator is extremely expensive, usually upwards of $3,000, so it is really only recommended for those with professional aeration needs (landscapers, golf course maintenance, etc).
*Learn more about lawn aeration.
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