Best gas-free tools for lawn aeration
The best time to aerate your lawn is when it is peak growing season, as this gives your grass the best chance for a quick recovery. That means, whether you have cool-season grasses or warm-season grasses, you will need to aerate sometime over the next few months. This is unfortunate timing because gas prices that have already hit record highs will continue to climb over the summer.
While a tow-behind lawn aerator is a great option, it requires fuel for your tractor. Luckily, there are many gas-free alternatives when it comes to aerating your lawn.
Why do I need to aerate my lawn?
To survive, plants require air, water and nutrients. These elements are taken in through the plant’s root system. When the soil gets compacted due to foot traffic, yard work, activities, harsh weather and more, it can no longer efficiently transport the essentials your lawn needs to thrive. Without these vital elements, your lawn will lose its color and begin to thin. A lawn aerator is a machine or a tool that opens up space in compacted soil so your grass can get everything it needs.
When should I aerate my lawn?
You should aerate your lawn once each year during the peak growing season. However, it is important to understand that there are cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses in the U.S., and each has a different peak growing season. The dividing line travels roughly through the center of the country with states above Texas having cool-season grasses and all others having warm-season grasses.
The peak growing season for cool-season grasses is early spring or fall when the temperatures are a little cooler. Warm-season grasses grow the most in the warmer — but not the hottest — period, which is late spring through early summer.
Signs I need to aerate my lawn
If you are wondering how to know if your lawn needs to be aerated, here are a few key signs to watch for:
Since compacted soil keeps nutrients from nourishing your lawn, one sign you need to aerate is patches of grass that are yellow or brown. Be careful not to mistake the naturally occurring preseason brown of Zoysia grass as a symptom of compacted soil.
Once your soil becomes so compacted that it can’t support adequate growth, your lawn will begin to die off. This will be evident in patches of thinning or altogether missing sections of grass.
A thick layer of thatch
Thatch is a layer of debris that accumulates on top of your soil. Up to about a half inch of thatch is beneficial to the health of your lawn. However, when thatch builds up beyond a half inch, which can be a result of compacted soil, it can suffocate your lawn. Compacted soil creates a shallow root system on your lawn, which leads to faster accumulating thatch.
Water that doesn’t run off your property sits there until it evaporates or is absorbed by the soil. If you have puddles that linger long after the rain has ended, it means your soil is compacted and cannot easily absorb water.
Inability to moisten
If your soil has only two states, dry or puddled, then it is a sign it is compacted. Healthy soil absorbs water, allowing it to stay moist and nurture the root system of your lawn.
Quick test for compacted soil
To quickly test how compacted your soil is, simply slide a screwdriver into your lawn. If you can easily drive it 6 inches into the soil, your soil is healthy. If you struggle, it’s time to aerate.
Gas-free tools you can use to aerate your lawn
If you have large areas that need to be aerated, this cordless model from Ryobi is the answer. It operates similarly to a lawn mower, has a push-button start and can dethatch and aerate your lawn, which will allow it to thrive.
Sold by Home Depot
This walk-behind push spike aerator is made by a trusted name in lawn equipment. The sturdy tray can support a patio block for added weight to allow for deeper penetration. The spike design means no messy plugs.
The protective shield on this model helps keep you clean while working. It is a lightweight steel tool that is easy to assemble and operate. This rolling aerator can be disassembled for convenient storage when not in use.
Sold by Home Depot
This basic multispike aerator works like a shovel: Just step on the top edge and drive the four prongs into the soil to aerate. It is affordable but best for small areas.
Sold by Amazon
With these innovative spike shoes, aerating your lawn is as simple as walking. This device fits over your boots and is held in place with three straps.
Sold by Home Depot
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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