Aerating is among the top ways to care for your lawn. There are a number of ways to aerate a lawn, and you might get confused trying to choose the right method.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to aerate your lawn and what to look for when renting equipment.
Aerating Your Lawn
What is an aerator? Picture the soil in your lawn. The soil has air pockets that permit the movement of oxygen, water, and fertilizer. The more air pockets are available in the soil, the better the aeration and drainage of the soil.
If your lawn soil becomes too compacted, water will not drain easily, and your grasses will suffocate because their roots will not receive sufficient oxygen. An aerator is used to solve this problem.
An aerator is a lawn machine or tool used to create holes in the soil for better soil aeration and drainage.
Here are some uses of a soil aerator:
- Soil Aeration: Aerators improve the availability of oxygen in the soil, permitting plant roots to breathe and aerobic microbes to decompose organic materials in the soil.
- Water Drainage: The more aerated a lawn is, the better the drainage of the soil will be. Grasses love well-drained soil.
- Quick Grass Growth: When grass roots are severed or cut, they multiply and the grass actually grows thicker. Aeration cuts the roots of your grass to support this process.
Types of Lawn Aerators
- Simple Hand-Held Aerator: These are rake-like tools with hard tines that work by being pushed into the ground to create several holes. Best for small lawns.
- Aerator Shoes: They are shoes with 2-3 inches tines at the bottom that you can attach to your shoes so that while walking on your lawn, the tines will punch holes in the ground. Best for small lawns.
- Spike Aerators: They have curved spikes instead of tines and can be gas powered or manually used. Best for medium and large lawns.
- Core (or Plug) Aerators: Core aerators have hollow tines that when pushed into the ground, collect soil (instead of poking the soil) and deposits soil plugs (or cores) on the surface. Best for large lawns.
Should You Buy or Rent a Core Aerator?
Aerators can become expensive to use, but you have the option to rent or buy one for your lawn.
While you can buy a core aerator, you need to consider several factors such as the price and how often you will use it.
Here are some factors that you should consider before deciding to buy or rent a core aerator:
The cost of the average walk-behind core aerator is $3000, while you can rent it for $99-$110 per day (or $60 per 4 hours in some cases).
Consider how often you will be using the machine. If you only plan to use it 2-3 times yearly, it may not be wise to buy one.
Factoring price and frequency together can give you more insight into lifetime cost (and possible savings). Buying a core aerator for $3000 up front is the same cost as renting one 3 times a year over 10 years at $100 a use.
Remember that rental fees do not include the cost of gas need to run the machine and that purchase prices do not include the cost of any necessary repairs.
4. Lawn Size
If you have a very large lawn, you probably will use an aerator more than 3 times yearly or require more than one day to fully aerate your lawn. In this case, you should consider buying a core aerator because it can be more cost effective.
If you have a small lawn, however, you should consider renting an aerator or using simple aerators.
For most rental shops, you have to pay for a trailer (if you do not want to use your car) to move the core aerator to your property. Considering the distance and how much you have to spend to transport the core aerator to your lawn should influence your decision to buy or rent.
Core aerators are large and heavy. Your garage or warehouse may not be large enough to store the aerator. Know where you will store your core aerator before you decide to buy one.
Where to Buy or Rent a Core Aerator
You can buy a core aerator from online shops, gardening shops, home improvement stores, and lawn service companies.
You can rent a core aerator from lawn service companies or home improvement warehouses. Some places where you can rent your core aerator are:
- Home Depot: Prices starting at $69 for 4 hours
- Lowes: Prices starting at $92 per day or $64 for 4 hours
When and How to Aerate Your Lawn
The best time to aerate your lawn is just before summer. You can also aerate your lawn when the soil gets too compacted. You can test soil compaction by trying to poke your finger into the ground. If it is hard or resists, the soil is compacted.
If the soil is consists of a large amount of clay and is too compacted, wet the soil with water the night before you will be aerating it to help soften the ground. Make sure that there are at least 9 holes per square foot in your lawn when you use any device to thoroughly aerate the lawn.
There are different types of aerators, but the best choice is usually a core aerator. Core aerators work by pulling plugs (or cores) of soil out of the soil. You can decide to buy or rent a core aerator, but make sure that you consider the pricing and usage when making a decision.