How to use a lawn aerator

Using a lawn aerator is like using a lawn mower, but make sure to pick the right time and prepare the ground to avoid breaking tines and spreading weeds.

When is a lawn aerator necessary?

If your lawn is healthy then there is no need to aerate, however if the soil is compacted due to high foot traffic, the grass is brittle, not a luscious green colour or feels extremely spongy then a lawn aerator should improve the health of the grass.

When is the best time to use lawn aerator?

Avoid hot and dry times of the year, so early Spring and Autumn are the best times to aerate – ideally before you plan to fertilise or apply fresh grass seed. The ground should be moist but aim for a time that is not too wet as the tines might break, with watering or light rain the day before to ensure the best conditions for the process. For new lawns wait between 12-18 months prior to aerating for the first time.

How often should you use a lawn aerator?

It is recommended to aerate a lawn at least once every year in early spring to loosen the soil enough for better circulation. For compacted soil caused by high foot traffic or in an area of high clay content then a second aeration in Autumn is also recommended.

How to use a lawn plug aerator

Using a lawn aerator is similar to using a mower, the process involves some preparation followed by running the aerator over the lawn.


Prepare the ground for aerating by ensuring the ground is moist from a watering or rain the day before. Remove any weeds present to prevent them potentially being chopped up and spread by the aerator during the process.


Depending on the type of lawn aerator you are using will depend on how to operate:

If you are using a manual lawn aerator then this involves pushing or pulling the aerator across your lawn to create the holes in the soil.

Aerator shoes will involve you walking across the areas that require aerating and can also be worn during normal gardening activities.

A powered aerator will be pushed or pulled similar to a lawnmower, however instructions will be different for each make and model therefore please refer to the instructions supplied with the aerator.

If you are using a tow behind aerator then you will need to hitch it to the rear of your lawn tractor or ATV and then drive this across the area of law that you wish to aerate.


You should only need to pass over the lawn once if the soil has been recently aerated or is soft, for harder clay based soil we suggest two passes at a 45 degree angle.


After the process is complete you should water the lawn thoroughly, this is also the ideal time to apply fertiliser or grass seed. You might be left with soil plugs, it should be fine to leave these on the lawn as they will quickly disintegrate into grass over time.

How long does it take to aerate a lawn?

This will depend on the size of your lawn and the type of aeration tool you use, it should typically take the same length of time to mow your lawn as it involves running a similar type of machine across the same area.

How to use a tow-behind plug aerator

A tow-behind plug aerator can be hitched to the rear of a lawn tractor or ATV using the standard pin attachment, the aerator spike depth and pressure exerted by the spikes can easily be adjusted by adding additional weight to trays then dragging the unit over the areas of lawn which require aeration.

Pros and cons of aerating your lawn

What are the benefits of aerating your lawn?

Allows air to reach to roots of the grass.

Breaks up the surface allowing water to be absorbed into the turf.

An increase in circulation ensures nutrients and fertilisers reach the roots.

Encourages healthier drought and heat resistant grass with stronger roots.

Helps remove an excess of thatch and debris underneath the surface of the grass.

All these factors result in a perfect luscious lawn no matter the climate and weather conditions.

Why shouldn’t you use a lawn aerator?

A lawn aerator is unnecessary if your lawn is already looking healthy all year round.

If you lack the space in the garage or shed for a larger heavy tool.

Cleaning a lawn aerator after every use can add time to the process.

Some lawn aerators might be expensive tools which could only be used once a year.


  • besthomegear.comHow To Use A Lawn Aerator – How To Use a Lawn Aerator With Easy DIY instructions And Get Amazing Results. Use This Simple Guide To Get All The Tips You Need To Do It Right. 10th January 2019.
  • lovethegarden.comUsing a lawn aerator: why, how and when? – Aerating your lawn can give it the extra help it needs to grow thicker and deeper rooted grass which would otherwise not be possible. Read our lawn aeration guide at Love The Garden! 1st July 2020.
  • gardinator.comWhat is a Tow Behind Plug Aerator and How to Use It? –  What is a Tow Behind Plug Aerator and How to Use It? 16th May 2018.