The Top 5 Best Manual Lawn Aerators for a Healthier and Greener Lawn

To maintain a healthy and vibrant lawn, it’s essential to use a high-quality lawn aerator that can create holes in the soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. The timing and method of aeration will depend on several factors, including the type of soil and grass (warm-season or cold-season), lawn size, and level of foot traffic. To assist you in selecting the most suitable lawn aerator for your requirements, we have extensively researched and evaluated numerous options based on their functionality, ease of use, features, and overall value.

Brinly-Hardy PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Positive aspects of the Brinly-Hardy Tow Behind Plug Aerator include its robust, all-steel construction, 40-inch width, and 24 3-inch plugs, making it perfect for large yards. The universal hitch allows for easy attachment to any lawn tractor, UTV, or ATV, reducing the need for manual movement. The “no-flat” tires and plug aerator design are ideal for handling different terrain and clay soils, respectively. The weight tray can hold up to 150 pounds of concrete blocks to ensure adequate soil depth, and the easy-to-use transport lever allows for quick plug disengagement to avoid obstacles. On the downside, the aerator requires a lawn tractor for use, and the weights are not included. It is also more expensive than some of the other options on the market. For small yards, a manual option may be more practical. However, if you already have the equipment to attach it to and a larger yard with the right soil, this aerator will make quick work of getting your lawn in excellent shape with minimal effort. The Brinly-Hardy Tow Behind Plug Aerator has a rolling tow-behind aeration method, and its dimensions are 37 x 51 x 28 inches. The plug size is 16 gauge, and the weight capacity is 150 pounds. At the time of publication, it was priced at $337.

Corona YardBreather Aerator

If you have a small lawn to aerate, the Corona YardBreather is a low-cost and easy-to-store handheld option to consider. This aerator measures 40 inches high with plugging spikes spaced 8 inches apart and weighs just over 3.5 pounds. With a simple stepping motion, the YardBreather removes two 3.5-inch soil plugs at a time, ejecting them from the top of the hollow spikes. The footplate and plugging spikes are made of heat-treated steel for durability, and the thick padded handles and wide nonslip footplate reduce user fatigue and stress points. In our testing, we found that the YardBreather worked more effectively in heavily compacted and dry soils than any of the tow-behind aerators we tested, due to the user’s weight bearing down on just two spikes at a time. With practice, we were able to remove an average of 100 plugs per minute, and the spikes consistently penetrated to the full depth of 3.5 inches in average soil conditions. While it may not be the best option for treating larger areas, it is an excellent tool for addressing small pet paths or worn pathways around the property border or the house to the toolshed. The Corona YardBreather’s spikes are 3.5 inches long, with two spikes per square foot, and it does not include a weight tray. Its advantages include a comfortable grip, a broad, slip-resistant step, sharp edges for easy plugging, and easy storage. However, its primary disadvantage is that it is only suitable for small areas. Product Specs: Spike length: 3.5 inches Spikes per square foot: 2 Weight tray included: N/A Pros: Comfortable grip, Broad, slip-resistant step, Sharp edges for easy plugging, Easy to store Cons: Only suitable for small areas

Agri-Fab 16-Inch Push Spike Aerator

POSITIVES Durable heavy-gauge steel construction Lightweight and suitable for smaller users

NEGATIVES Shallow tine depth

For those who don’t need a tow-behind aerator and want to cover a decent amount of ground, this 16-inch push aerator could be the perfect choice. It’s compact and easy to maneuver in narrow or awkward landscaping areas, and you can choose to push or pull it as needed. This model features 40 spikes/plugs and a steel tray that can hold up to 35 pounds of additional weight. However, keep in mind that you will need to secure the weight in place using tie-downs or bungee cords since you have to tilt the machine forward or backward to use it.

KEY SPECIFICATIONS Type: Push Spike/Plug Quantity: 40 Width: 16 inches Weight: 15 pounds

Yard Butler Lawn Aerator

The Yard Butler Lawn Aerator is an excellent tool for revitalizing old lawns. Its 3.5-inch long grass plugs penetrate deep into compacted soil, improving the flow of air, water, and fertilizer to the roots, while enhancing the lawn’s ability to tolerate heat and drought. We highly recommend this manual lawn plug aerator and dethatcher for small to medium-sized lawns as an alternative to renting larger equipment for aeration. Before using this aerator, we suggest watering your lawn, especially if it hasn’t rained in a while, and soaking the coring tips in water after use to prevent soil from drying out and clogging them. With its durable construction, this high-quality lawn aerator is built to last a lifetime and is our top pick. PROS Promotes root growth by “pruning” roots Removed cores introduce beneficial microorganisms Comfortable cushioned handle grips CONS Requires both hands on handles, which may be inconvenient for some users.
John Deere 48-Inch Tow-Behind Plug Aerator

John Deere 48-Inch Tow-Behind Plug Aerator

The John Deere 48-inch aerator is a high-quality tow-behind plug aerator that efficiently aerates lawns with its 12 four-way plug assemblies on the spool, which provide a total of 48 spikes that pull 4.24 plugs per square foot. Its heavy-duty body weighs 101 pounds and can hold up to 250 pounds of additional weight, resulting in a total of approximately 350 pounds of downward pressure. The aerator’s heat-treated plugging spoons can penetrate the soil up to 3 inches, and its universal drop-pin towing hitch is compatible with most lawn tractors and riding mowers.

One unique feature of this aerator is that it rolls gently on pneumatic tires in transport mode, which avoids causing ruts on soft ground. Although it may be priced higher than other models, the John Deere aerator’s top-quality construction and efficient design justify the cost. In comparison to the Agri-Fab 48-inch tow-behind plug aerator, the John Deere model stands out due to its superior material quality, overall design, and performance.

During testing, the John Deere aerator proved to be about 50 percent more efficient than the Agri-Fab model with 4.24 plugs per square foot. With 120 pounds of added weight, the aerator penetrated the soil an average of 2.5 inches, even while making 180-degree end turns. The only downside of this model is that the transport lever cannot be operated from the driver’s seat. Additionally, its large size and heavy-duty build make it more suitable for larger properties with lots of open lawn space, and it may be too large for some lawn tractors.

Overall, the John Deere 48-inch aerator is a high-quality, efficient, and well-designed implement that can help keep your lawn healthy and well-maintained. Its closely spaced coring spikes, ability to penetrate up to 3 inches, and top-quality construction make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable and efficient aerator.

Manual Aerator Buyer’s Guide 

If you are facing issues with stunted growth or dead areas on your lawn, aerating it can help. With a manual aerator, you can easily perform this task once or twice a year. However, with so many brands and types of manual aerators available, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Keep reading to learn more about this product and make an informed decision when you start shopping. Manual aerators are ideal for addressing small problem areas in larger yards or for aerating entire smaller yards. However, it can be a labor-intensive task, so it is crucial to choose the appropriate size of aerator to get the job done efficiently without taking too long.


Q. When should I aerate my lawn?

A. While spring is an acceptable time to aerate any lawn, the best time depends on the type of grass you have. As a general rule, aerate cool-season grasses, such as ryegrass, fescue, and bluegrass, in the early spring, after the last frost date for your area, or in the early fall, before cold weather sets in. For warm-season grasses, which include Bermuda grass, zoysia, and St. Augustine, late spring is the ideal time for aeration. 

Q. Should I clean up the plugs of soil scattered atop my lawn after using a plug aerator?

A. If you find the plugs unsightly, go ahead and rake them up and dispose of them in your compost pile. But if you don’t want to be bothered with yet another step, it’s fine to leave the plugs on the lawn where they’ll be broken up by the lawn mower next time you mow.

Q. Wouldn’t it be easier to just hire someone to do the job for me?

A. If you have a large lawn and don’t have the time or energy to aerate it yourself with a manual or gas-powered aerator, you can hire a gardener or handyman to tackle the task for you. But for small plots of grass, it’s far more cost-effective to do the job yourself with a manual aerator. Of course, you can always hire your teen or a neighbor’s teen to wield the aerator for you.

Hello, everyone! I'm David Henry, a dedicated customer and enthusiastic reviewer of Tractor Supply Company. As a farmer and agriculture enthusiast, I frequently visit Tractor Supply Company to explore and purchase a wide range of agricultural supplies, tools, and equipment. Over the years, I have accumulated extensive experience and knowledge in shopping at Tractor Supply Company, and I aim to help others make wiser choices through my sharing. I understand the importance of selecting the right products for farmers, ranchers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. That's why I enjoy sharing my insights and recommendations to assist individuals in finding the best-suited products for their needs. Join me as we embark on a journey of discovering quality products and making informed decisions at Tractor Supply Company. Together, let's enhance our farming and outdoor experiences through valuable insights and practical advice.