Lawn aeration is a critical process for avoiding unsightly bare patches on lawns caused by soil compaction, which prevents grass being able to grow due to a lack of air and nutrients. Through frequent aeration, soil compaction can be prevented and grass is allowed to grow, which in turn means much healthier soil and a lush lawn. It’s particularly important for lawns that see a lot of footfall, or where soil appears dry or excessively wet.
There are a number of ways to aerate your lawn, from using aerator shoes to motorized mechanical aerators, to tow behind aerators for much larger lawn spaces. In order to dig deeper into the ground and for lower maintenance for your lawn, a motorized mechanical aerator is a quick and efficient method for aerating your lawn. Two varieties of mechanism are available: drum, which is operated through a rotating spiked cylinder, and cam, which features a shaft that drives spikes up and down for deeper soil penetration via plug aeration. The cam based models prove popular with many users thanks to their ability to pull decent plugs whilst maintaining stability, which can be a challenge with some drum style models.
Plug aeration is also preferred to spike aeration (removing a plug of soil vs poking holes into the ground) due to its longer lasting effects, however groundsman or lawn care experts know that a combination of both methods works best.
Below is our pick of the best mechanical lawn aerators available for purchase in Australia. We are starting with the homeowner friendly models first with a compact electric model and battery power model before moving on to the gas guzzling products.
The resilient little lawn aerator
Set to provide long-lasting lawn care, the Gardena Electric Lawn Aerator EVC 1000 is perfect for removing moss, thatch, and weeds whilst oxidizing the lawn and ensuring more nutrients enter the soil. The model is quick to take apart with a removable handle and a transportation position where the blades can be folded away, making it perfect for transportation and easy storage.
Galvanized blades are used to dig into terrain and remove thatch and unwanted grass, and the depth of penetration can be controlled with an easy to use lever. A powerful PowerPlus motor operates the aerator, and large, treaded wheels make steering simple whilst maintaining a strong grip on the lawn. Operation is controlled by a handy switch located on the handle, and the model is often commended for its ease of use across smaller lawn spaces. It's not as heavy duty and powerful as any of the other products here, but for home use on a small lawn it is certainly worth considering.
The three in one lawn aerator
A step up from the Gardena model, the Masport 42V AL-KO Scarifier SF 4036 is an excellent value model that offers both scarifying in addition to lawn aeration. Allowing for seasonal scarification, the model features steel blades that dig into soil to remove thatching to ensure a healthier, oxidised lawn to avoid bare patches.
The aerating roller is easy to fit, and can simply be used to rake the grass patch at the same time as scarification, and the steel tines will penetrate the ground whilst debris is collected in a 50 litre catcher bag for user convenience. With a four year warranty, the model also has a manoeuverable, lightweight design that makes it perfect for smaller lawns and convenient for storage and transportation.
This is a great multi purpose machine, it is also unique in this list as it is powered by a lithium ion battery rather than petrol, in addition that battery can be reused for other Masport products as the machine is part of the Masport Energy Flex range.
The Masport 42V AL-KO Scarifier SF 4036 has an RRP of $299 (without battery) more details and dealer locations available from Masport.
The powerful self-propelled lawn aerator
Using a plug aeration method, the Bluebird Lawn Aerator 530 digs out cores of soil to allow oxygen and nutrients to enter the ground for a healthier lawn. The model has a generous 3 inch (or 75mm) digging depth and a 19 inch (482mm) operational width that boasts an efficiency of up to 2034m² per hour. This makes it perfect for seasonal aeration across larger garden areas, landscapes, and industrial spaces.
The thirty coring tines come with a unique 2cm closed spoon design which are hardened for a robust lifespan, and rotate for an efficient aeration experience. With a Briggs & Stratton petrol 1.9L engine, you can expect a powerful aerator, and as a bonus, the model comes with a 1 year manufacturer warranty. It also features foldable handles for convenient storage and transportation. One down side of the model is that it can be known to vibrate during prolonged usage, although this isn’t really a problem for seasonal or infrequent use.
For more information on operating the model, take a look at this video on using the Bluebird Lawn Aerator.
The easily manoeuverable lawn aerator
The Ryan Lawnaire IV-EST Easy Steer has an aerating width of 26.5” 118cc Honda Walk Behind Aerator is a wonderful tool for aerating a lawn space with energy. Boasting a powerful and efficient Honda GX120 engine, the standout feature of this model is its Easy Steer Technology (EST), which enables the user to manoeuver the model whilst the tines are still in the soil. This means that the operation can be carried out in reduced time and effort whilst core aeration is maintained.
Well favoured by users thanks to its extended width and easy steer technology, the aerator has a number of handy features, including vibration reducing handles for avoiding fatigue during extended operation, removable weights for controlling the depth of aeration, a heavy duty design, covered lift grips and front bumper guard, as well as removable rear wheels for moving through restricted areas. The self-propelled model has an impressive productivity rate, at 45,000 square feet per hour, thanks to the generous 42 hardened tines that allow the job to get done quickly. It also comes with a 2 year limited warranty for the reassurance of the user.
The stand on lawn aerator
The Toro 30” Stand-On Aerator features an adaptable hydraulic pressure system that enables the user to glide across terrain for coring, no matter how contoured it may be. With an impressively powerful Kawasaki V-Twin engine, the model’s assembly can place up to a huge 544kg of pressure onto the tines for pulling plugs of up to 12.7cm to ensure deep aeration across a 76.2cm aerating width. The hydraulic system can also be adjusted to achieve an adapted length of core as required.
With a control system that is easily manipulated by the operator, safety and protection is also ensured, and vibrations are kept separate from the operation platform for a seamless and comfortable ride. Thanks to electronic foot pedals, the user can also control how the tines are lowered or raised to ensure aeration isn’t halted during manoeuvers across terrain. Despite many users’ desire for this model to have more tines for even greater efficiency, stand on aerators are becoming an increasingly popular choice.
The commercial use lawn aerator
Perfect for commercial pitches and large lawns, the PL2501 Plugr Aerator is a self propelled model that is easily manoeuverable thanks to its swivelling front wheels that enable it to move across rough terrain and through tight spaces.
This is a powerful aerator that uses a cam drive piston functionality that can pull plugs of soil up to 2.75cm deep. With tines that are driven by the power of the engine as opposed to weight as seen on many other lawn aerators it offers an estimated 30 percent greater return vs. traditional drum aerators, the six machine treated hardened thin wall tines can pull 120 soil plugs per square metre when travelling at speed of 2mph or 80 holes per square meter at the 4mph top speed.
Other features include a no-tool flip up hood, variable hole density and very low maintenance in its class.
The highly productive lawn aerator
Boasting the ability to aerate a quarter of an acre in just 15 minutes, the self propelled Billy Goat AE1300H 20” Hydro Aerator is perfect for lawn care professionals looking to get the job done quickly. There are a number of impressive features on this particular Billy Goat model. Firstly, it has a speed of up to 4.3 miles per hour, making it around 60% faster than a 26” drum model. With a generous aeration width of 30”, the model has Variable Aeration Density (VAD) which creates between 2-10 times more cores than most drum aerators in just one pass, meaning terrain doesn’t need to be crossed multiple times. This also means patch repair and seed bed preparation can be carried out by slowing the aerator down across bare patches of lawn.
Robust Flextech arms mean that core depth is double the distance of most drum models, which allows for less frequent aeration. This particular lawn aerator is also capable of reverse aeration, where it's able to turn without lifting the tines out of the ground for great manoeuverability and time saving, and can easily trim and edge. With 15” tyres and a 35” wheel base, tough terrain and slopes up to 20 degrees are easily tackled. The operator can also easily adjust the speed and the direction of aeration at the touch of a switch – this is often praised by users for preventing fatigue, particularly after a full day of operation.
The investment lawn aerator
Priced at $5,300, the Husqvarna AR19 19” Aerator Honda GX120 3.5 HP is a little on the expensive side, but is undeniably worth the investment. With a choice between either self-propelled or towable models, the aerator features a compact design that is complete with a foldable handle as well as a lifting handle for simple transportation and storage.
Manoeuverability is strong thanks to a free wheel design that allows aeration across tough terrain and narrow spaces, without leaving tread marks. The depth of aeration can conveniently be controlled by rear-wheel control which adjusts the penetration as well as maintaining stability, and detachable weights assist in adding depth and keeping functionality smooth, particularly on sloped areas.
The compact lawn aerator
Okay while we could not find this model to buy in Australia, we felt we had to include it as it is a great product, if your are interested in becoming the Australian distributor then contact Dalton Cooper.
The Classen Steerable Compact Aerator is well known as one of the industry’s most compact models, as well as one of the most productive on the market. Equipped with a powerful Honda GX120 engine and self-propelled to function at speeds of up to 4.2 miles per hour, it’s an ideal model for both residential and commercial usage alike. With just five tightly positioned tine wheels, they’re acclaimed for pulling 15% more plugs per square foot than any other competitor model with the same quality of core, meaning greater thorough aeration coverage in much less time.
The tines have been designed to be steerable also, meaning that the aerator is easy to use even across tough terrain, slopes, and tight spaces whilst maintaining stability thanks to the front wheels. Ergonomic detachable weights also come with the model for optional added depth in ground penetration. The Classen Steerable Compact Aerator is also extremely user friendly with added features including a simple to use tine engagement handle, lift handles, and fold-down handles for portability.
The deep coring lawn aerator
Researching this has been tough and our last mechanical aerator in the top 10 is also technically not available from retailers in Australia (please tell us if we're wrong!). The manufacturer currenty lists Dorian Drake as the worldwide distributor.
In order to maintain a healthy lawn, free from compaction, the DR Lawn Aerator is a great model for removing 2-3 inch cores of soil from the ground to oxidize grass and soil. The self-propelled model is manoeuverable and has a powerful 205cc Briggs & Stratton OHV engine to drive the three coring tines into the ground for deep aeration.
Moving at a decent pace of 2.5 miles per hour following a convenient electric start, the engine also features long-life warranty, and many users praise the model’s smooth handling ability. For fixed traction, the DR Lawn Aerator has steel rims and rubber tires which don’t leave treadmarks, allowing for a neat yet aerated lawn after usage. It’s a durable machine that is perfect for either residential or commercial usage, and the model receives regular praise for its deep aeration and impressive functionality that breaks up the soil plugs, making cleanup much simpler.
Hopefully now you have a much better idea of the perfect lawn aerator for you!