Written by Terry Smith
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UK’s best lawn aerators heavy duty professional lawn aerators compared with manual options
This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 6:13 am
Trying your best to get a decent lawn growing but to no avail? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are thousands of people in the UK who are having the same problem but it never seems like it’s the neighbour does it? 😀 The kicker is, it can be difficult to nail down the exact cause for a lack of healthy lawn growth as there are a number of factors involved. You could have an underlying moss or weed problem and in that case investing in some quality lawn feed/moss killer would be a good first step – you could consider a lawn weed and feed – I use a lawn spreader for even nutrient coverage. Thats not what I would do though, if giving the lawn a real once over you have to be cruel to be kind. From years of experience, including redoing and levelling my lawn completely I would get started with a lawn raker (or scarifier as you may know it). Then I would look at how to revive a lawn after scarifying, and then move onto aerating. Or you can shortcut all this by buying a 2 in 1 aerator/scarifier such as the Einhell Electric Scarifier and Lawn Aerator or the VonHaus 2 in 1.
Best lawn aerator – editor picks:
Best electric lawn aerator: Einhell RG-SA 1433 Electric Scarifier and Lawn Aerator
Best alternative if the Einhell isn’t available: VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn aerator and scarifier
Best roller spike lawn aerator: BMC Lawn Aerator Manual Grass Spike Roller 420mm with Long Handle
Best lawn aerator shoes: ABREOME Lawn Aerator Shoes – EEIEER Lawn Aerating Shoes
Best hollow tine lawn aerator: Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator
Do you know if you need an electric lawn rake before an aerator?
If you’re sure you don’t have moss/thatch problem strangling your lawn (and that’s easy to know – you’ll be able to see it) then perhaps the soil is too dry, or the roots of your lawn are not getting the water, air, and nutrients that they need. If this is the case, you need an aerator of some kind. In some cases, an underlying moss or weed problem in fact stems from compacted soil that strangles grass growth so you’re probably going to progress to this stage if you don’t use an aerator soon. An aerator pokes holes into your lawn and soil allowing your roots to get exactly what they need to thrive – some hollow tine aerators go one step further removing small sections of soil to allow nutrient and water to penetrate roots – the grass then spreads to these areas with a larger and healthier root system but normally, solid spikes shoes can fix most homeowners problems in my experience. If you want an easier version of that then you’ll be looking at an electric aerator. And for more information to help you choose what’s right for you, I would probably look at what a lawn aerator does.
This is about the best chance you’ll ever get to spread from grass seed too – the holes will allow direct contact with moist soil and therefore higher germination success rate – this in turn will strangle the moss and thatch – the way we want it 🙂 so don’t forget a bit of seed. You might want to look at how to spread grass seed too.
But there’s more you can do or have access to (amazingly). When choosing an aerator, you have the choice of going for a lawnmower style, electric model, a man-powered push-roller, special aerator shoes, or a push down hollow tine, and pronged aerator. Each with its own benefits and drawbacks (For more information on this, check our lawn aerator buyers guide.
To help make your decision little easier, we have chosen a selection of different aerator types that are currently among the most popular in the UK and tested and reviewed them for you. Here’s what I came up with from a combination of years of experience and some personal testing:
What does aerating a lawn do?
Aerating your lawn is an absolute must if you want to keep your lawn looking super lush and professional looking. Not only does it allow air to circulate, water and nutrients penetrate the roots far more effectively too, much increasing the active uptake. I’ve made a quick diagram to reinforce that:
What happens is you’ll notice on lawns that aren’t well looked after, water will sit far more quickly. That’s because a lack of holes results in poor drainage. All professional heavy duty lawn aerators will solve the problem by making small holes about half an inch deep in your lawn allowing better drainage and stops water pooling so quickly too. Don’t worry, the scarifying process can make the lawn look your lawn look like its been through the wars but it’s needed to improve your lawn health. Here’s a look at that damage to the lawn:
Lawn aerator buyers guide
Still not sure about what aerator to go for? Don’t worry, it can be confusing considering all the available options. Do you want something with more power, or something you have more control over? Is your soil soft or thick with clay?
Here are some tips, information, and advice on lawn aerator products that will hopefully give you a better idea about the right type for your gardening needs.
Which aerator type is best for you?
This is probably the most important question to ask yourself and the answer will depend on your lawn condition and your personal preferences and skills. Here is a pros and cons breakdown of the different types of lawn aerator products out there – If you think you might also have a thatch problem, a scarifier could also be a handy tool to have, or maybe purchase a 2-in-1 aerator/scarifier to get the best of both worlds.
Electric powered aerators
These are usually aerator/scarifier combo products and not strictly aerators in the purest sense. They are very powerful and do not require a lot of tiring work from you to operate. The problem with these lawn aerators is that they can tear up your lawn pretty badly. I’d normally recommend taking a look at the VonHaus 2 in 1 or the Einhell RG-SA 1433:
This is usually not a problem if your lawn is pretty much a lost cause and you want to start over for the next season, but doesn’t make them suitable for people who just want to improve an already decent lawn with a few minor issues.
Roller Spike aerators
Low cost and easy to operate, roller spike aerators are quite popular products, but there are some common issues. Firstly, some of the cheaper models are not all that well put together and may be a bit on the flimsy side. On top of that, they are sometimes too lightweight and so the pines hardly penetrate the ground without some alteration to the design to make them heavier, or manually pushing down on the handle. They are all pretty similar in design:
One that’s pretty sensible is the BMC Lawn Aerator:
There are a few with this design, it’s not my favourite for the manual lawn aerators though, I much prefer the spike shoes and they really penetrate the ground plus I get some exercise 😀
Aerator spike shoes
These address the problem of the lack of weight that some roller spike aerators have by simply using your own bodyweight to hammer the pines into the ground:
They are simple, cheap and work really well if you get a decent pair and the only thing that lets them down is that they require you to walk around the garden for quite a long time and it can be quite tiring – from my perspective as I mention above it’s a great opportunity for exercise and clearing a chore. I like the look of the ABREOME Lawn Aerator Shoes.
Fork aerators will hollow tines
Just like using a typical garden fork, you push these aerators down into the ground and pull them back up manually. The hollow times are excellent at removing cores and giving you great aeration holes – I picked the Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator because it’s cheap and does the job very well.
The problem with these models is that soil tends to get stuck in the hollow times and so you need to clear them out to carry on. They are also very time and labour intensive and can tire you out quite quickly.
The size of your lawn will play a big part in what kind of aerator you should buy. If you only have a small area to deal with, then a hollow tine aerator can give you great holes before you get too tired. It would be worth taking a look at our article on aerating your lawn for more information.
Larger gardens will probably require you to get a rolling aerator, whether that is electric or push powered. You could use aerator nail shoes for any sized garden as long as you are prepared to do the exercise.
Type of soil
If you have nice, soft soil that is easily manageable you could easily get away with using a hand powered aerator like a roller type as long as it has some weight behind it. I’d consider the BMC or perhaps the shoes – ABREOME Lawn Aerator Shoes.
Thick clay soil, on the other hand will require more power so you might be better off with an electric aerator, particularly if your lawn has a thatch problem too because these products usually double as scarifiers and can dig out those unwanted weeds and thatch out with ease – then you want to look at the Einhell or the VonHaus 2 in 1. You may also want to have a garden weeder handy. It doesn’t just do a brilliant job on flower beds, its pointy shape works perfectly in between grass too.
Aerating is only supposed to be done a couple of times a year, in spring or Autumn, so you have to ask yourself if it is worth spending a lot of money on something that you will not be using all that often.
On the other hand you also have to take into account that when dealing with garden tools, a lot of the very cheap products that look like great deals will actually end up being pretty much useless and a complete waste of money, not to mention a source of frustration.
A happy medium is probably the best road to travel here.
So here’s a look at the best and most professional lawn aerators available in the uk including heavy duty options:
1. Einhell RG-SA 1433 Electric Scarifier and Lawn Aerator
Specification: Power consumption: 1400 W, Working width: 33 cm, Number of blades: 20 pieces, Number of claws: 48, Scarifying depth: – 3 / 3 / 7 / 9 mm, Weight: 13 kg
If you have a medium to large sized lawn, it could become very labour intensive if you choose to aerate your lawn using a hand tool. Now, I realise for some people, especially the young and fit among us, that that is all part of the fun. However, for the rest of us, a large lawn is best tackled with an electric aerator like this one from Einhell.
This is a 2-in-1 aerator and scarifier and comes with both a 48 claw aerator roller, and a 20 blade, stainless steel spike drum for scarifying. Both are ball bearings mounted for smooth operation and longevity.
Changing from one roller to another is fairly straightforward and can be done by using the supplied Allen key which can be attached to the handle for safe keeping and to keep it handy.
The 1400 watt electric motor delivers plenty of power for scarifying, but maybe a little too much for Aerating if you already have a beautiful lawn , as it will tear up some of the surface while doing its job. For a lawn that is in need of help though, a little bit of surface damage that eventually leads to a more beautiful lawn later is probably worth it.
This lawn aerator/ scarifier has adjustable working heights and there are 3 levels to choose from. This is handier for the scarifier than the aerator but it is still a nice feature to have. Just be careful to get the settings right and maybe try them out on a separate patch of grass first so you don’t destroy your lawn accidentally.
The handle on the Einhell RG-SA lawn aerator is both height adjustable and foldable, so getting a comfortable working position isn’t too hard, and the folding helps to make storage much easier.
On the back of the lawn aerator there is a 28 litre capacity collection bag, but while it is well made out of decent materials, I found that only about 75% of the debris was going into and I still had to use a rake to tidy up the rest afterwards. Still, it’s better than not having any collection bag at all, and did save some time cleaning up.
The body and wheels on this model are all made of plastic, but even so, it actually feels quite robust and solid. The wheels do a decent job of getting the machine from A to B, and I reckon the casing would withstand a knock or two.
For the price, this is a great electric gardening tool that has plenty of power. As already mentioned, if you are looking for a refined aerator for your already picture perfect lawn, you might find this tool a bit too much, but people looking for a fresh start to their dying garden grass, will find it helpful.
2. VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier
Specification: Power consumption: 1500W, Working width: 32cm, Working Depth (scarifier): -12, -8, -4, +4mm , Working Depth (aerator): -15, -11, -7, +1mm , Weight: 8.5kg,
The Vonhaus 2-in-1 aerator and scarifier is similar in many ways to the Einhell model and therefore has a lot of the same pros and cons. The thing about these electric aerators and scarifiers is that they are usually more powerful than people expect and are not refined tools designed for poking small, unnoticeable holes in the grass.
They are, in fact, used to turn over a decent amount of soil, remove thatch, and will create a fair bit of debris, especially models with powerful motors like this one, which sports a 1500 watt power block.
This VonHaus model has interchangeable rollers, like the EInhell, one designed for scarifying and the other for raking/aerating. Again, changing rollers is done by using an allen key and is quick and painless. Before we get into the nitty gritty though let’s take a look at the manufacturer video which is surprisingly useful and demonstrates this:
There are 4 working depths to choose from, but I found all but the shortest one too deep for aerating and definitely more suited for scarifying, but that’s usually the case with these types of aerator. Changing depth is very easy though and there is a handy lever for just that purpose.
The plastic shell of the Vonhaus electric aerator isn’t up to the same standard as the Einhell model, but I suppose that is to be expected for the lower price. The wheels are decent enough though, even if I don’t understand the reason for having the rear wheels much smaller than the front ones.
This product was easy to assemble and the instructions weren’t totally horrendous, which is usually the case these days, and the adjustable handles and collection bag all fitted on without any bother.
I like the fact that Vonhaus gave this electric lawn aerator a good sized power cable at 10 metres long, but the collection bag could be larger and I found I had to empty it a little too often for my liking.
These are small gripes though and I can’t really fault the Vonhaus 2-in-1 aerator/scarifier too much. It is what it is- a lower cost electric garden tool and comes with the usual issues attached with these products. If you can overlook them, this is good value for money.
3. BMC Lawn Aerator Manual Grass Spike Roller 420mm with Long Handle
Working width: 42cm (17ins), Holes per square metre: 184 neat, Measures: approx 122cm (4ft) long
Our last two reviews were of electric aerator/scarifier combos and while they are no doubt powerful tools, they are not really suited for more refined gardening work, especially aerating of a nice lawn without causing too much damage.
For this kind of work you need something more subtle, and you need to be more in control, and that is why a hand powered lawn aerator like this one is perfect for the job. One major benefit of hand tools like this is they require very little setting up. This product arrives pretty much completely assembled and only requires you to fit the rear metal guard and handle on to it and you are ready to go.
Priced sensibly, I wasn’t expecting much quality-wise, but the BMC Lawn Aerator isn’t at all what I would call flimsy. The metal roller and prongs all seem to be strong and robust and they do exactly what they are supposed to- poke neat holes in the grass and soil without tearing it up.
The rest of the product is of slightly lower quality, as is expected of budget tools, but there was nothing to get me worried and I’m sure anyone would get their money’s worth out of this lawn aerator.
The 42cm wide rollers will create around 200 uniform holes per square metre which is very time saving compared to poking them with a fork and all it takes is for you to push the tool along and add a little weight by pushing down to help dig into the soil.
For some reason, BMC decided to make the handle in a broom style instead of a T-shaped handle and I didn’t like this. It actually didn’t make the aerator hard to push forward, but I just think a T-shaped handle would have been a better choice for applying downward pressure. At 4 feet the handle is long enough so that you don’t have to stoop down too much while using the tool.
The metal prongs that do the digging could maybe be a little longer but as they are they do what they’re supposed to if you remember to wet the soil first.
To sum up, this lawn aerator does the job, and does it well but is suited for smaller to medium sized gardens and people who don’t mind a little bit of manual work. It’s not the best, but it certainly isn’t the worst either.
4. ABREOME Lawn Aerator Shoes - EEIEER Lawn Aerating Shoes
Specification: Number of nail: 26 pieces , Number of heel strap: 4 straps (adjustable straps)
When Aerosmith sang ‘walk this way’ I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say they weren’t talking about aerating a lawn, but that doesn’t mean it is a great idea.
These lawn aerator ‘shoes’ are a simple, yet ingenious solution to the problems that come with other types of aerators. Firstly, they won’t rip up your lawn like some powerful electric aerators can so they are good for lawns that are already in a decent condition.
Secondly, the fact that they are on the bottom of your feet means that your whole body weight is helping to push the nails into the ground ensuring that you get good penetration of the soil, something that can be a problem with push powered roller aerator products.
There isn’t much to talk about design wise with these lawn aerators. They consist of a solid plastic sole, 5 straps to hold them on your feet, and 13 nails on each foot to do the aerating. They arrive in pieces and need to be assembled but it’s a very simple task, especially if you use a decent spanner instead of the useless one that is supplied by Abreome.
Sometimes with these kinds of products, the prongs or nails are not up to much, but these are made of good quality metal and are over 2 inches long. As long as you water the lawn the night before, you will have no problems walking on these lawn aerator shoes as they will dig in very well.
The straps too are strong and have zinc alloy buckles on them, and I really like the extra support the heel strap gives you. Some models don’t have this and so your foot slips around but I found these to be far easier to wear and use.
The only real drawback of this product is that you have to put in the time and hard work yourself to get the job done. It does double up as a good bit of exercise though, so there is that. I wouldn’t recommend them to older gardeners, or people with injuries or disabilities as they might prove hard to use, but for most people they feel quite intuitive and don’t take long to get used to.
Whatever you do though, don’t try to walk on hard surfaces with them or you will probably end up on your backside. It’s not a pretty look, trust me.
5. Kingfisher RC401 Pro Gold Lawn Aerator
Specification: Size: 4.4 x 30 x 92.5 cm , Weight: 1.8 kg
Our final review is of the Kingisher RC401 Pro Gold lawn aerator, a low cost hand tool that works well once you know the tricks to keep it at its optimum. This is a different type of aerator and while it has a rounded handle at the top like a lawnmower, the bottom part consists of a cross bar with 5 prongs on it. These prongs are hollow and designed to let the soil pass through as it removes 2-3 inch deep cores in the soil.
As with most hand aerator tools, the ground needs to be wet for them to be effective and this is certainly no exception. The problem with this tool though is that the hollow prongs can get blocked with soil after a short time of using it and this causes it to be largely ineffective.
However, there is a simple solution and that is to use some kind of lubricant such as WD40 or a silicone based lube, or even some kind of cooking oil to stop the prongs clogging up. You could also have a bucket of water handy to clean them out as that would also work. A combination of the two methods would be best.
As long as you stick to this little ‘trick’ mentioned above, this aerator actually works really well and you get uniform cores in your lawn without unnecessary damage to it.
Make no mistake though, this is very labour intensive and you will end up with an achy back and shoulders if you don’t take regular breaks. I found working the prongs in and back out slowly gave the best results, but this only added to the intensity of the already hard graft.
At 2.16 kilograms it is hardly an overly heavy tool, but this also means that the metal used isn’t of the highest quality either. This is to be expected of a product that only costs around 13 pounds, but I don’t know how long it will last, particularly if you are putting through its paces somewhat.