After more than 10 years of helping home owners with their lawns, it is unfortunately way too common to find that friendly, lovely people have wasted their money on a gardening product that over-promised and under-delivered.
My hope is that this article gives you a thorough understanding of aeration and, as a result, you won’t make the same mistakes others have.
Are these three terrible products a scam? No, probably not. Do they over-promise and under-deliver? Yes. Are they a waste of money when compared to the three alternatives? 100%. Avoid these products and take the alternatives; your lawn will thank you for it.
The three worst aeration products from Bunnings
3. Trojan All Steel Spiked Aerator – $28
For aeration to be successful you need two things: hole depth and hole width. Typically speaking, the deeper the hole, the further into the soil profile the compaction is relieved; the wider the hole, the longer the benefits last.
The solid tines (technical name for the spikes) on this spiked aerator are neither wide or deep. So how much compaction is going to be relieved? Not much. Enough to be noticed? Probably not.
There are two redeeming factors to the Trojan though. The first is that you can put your full body weight behind it, so at least it can get into hard soil. The second is that you can wiggle it around to make the holes a bit wider.
An additional negative though, is that it’s a lot of manual work, ultimately for little benefit.
My rating: 4/10
2. Saxon Lawn Aerator Sandals – $9
These lawn aeration sandals suffer from the same problems that the Trojan aerator suffers from. The spikes are simply too short and too thin to make any significant or long-lasting difference to the lawn.
However, with the Trojan at least you can wiggle it around to get better results. You can’t do that with these sandals.
The only redeeming factor is that they only cost $9. But, it’s still a waste of $9. You may as well donate that money to a charity or buy your kids some ice cream.
My rating: 2/10
1. Saxon Lawn Aerator Spiked Roller – $24.98
In my opinion, this spiked roller is the worst “lawn aerator” on the market. It has short and thin spikes like the other products above. However, unlike the others, you can’t put your whole weight on it. It’s arm power only.
This light, flimsy contraption has no chance of breaking down hard, compacted soil.
Realistically, can this “aerator” give any benefit to your lawn? My honest opinion is no. In addition, it’s not even all that cheap.
My rating 0/10
Dishonourable Mention: Cyclone Tubular Steel Lawn Aerator – $45.90
This product is not a complete waste of money; it’s just really hard to use. While the Cyclone aerator will put a nice core hole in your lawn, the core tubes clog up very quickly and it constantly needs cleaning out. Some people buy the frame and weld on some professional tines from Turf Tines (click here to see the replacement tines). If you have the skills to do that, why not? If you don’t, steer clear.
Below, you’ll find my recommendations for effective methods to aerate your lawn!
The 3 Best Aeration Options for Aussie Homes
1. The Good Old Garden Fork – $11-$65
As I said before, for aeration to be successful you need two things: hole depth and hole width.
Whilst a garden fork is going to be a lot of work, it can actually go very deep and, when wiggled, can create some decent sized holes. A garden fork is basically a better, deeper and often cheaper version of the Trojan aerator. Plus, when you are finished with it, you can still use it as a normal garden fork.
If money is tight, this is a very good option.
My rating 6/10 (7/10 if it wasn’t so much hard work)
2. Hiring a Bluebird Corer – $80-120
This type of machine is known as a ‘Drum Style Corer’ and has been a staple of hire shops for well over a decade. They reliably give nice core holes over a lawn and are significantly less work than any manual option.
There are, however, some drawbacks to this style of machine:
- They are very hard to turn and can be really tiring on larger lawns (they’re still miles better than any manual option though).
- The hole depth is limited to the weight of the machine as there is no mechanism that drives the tines into the lawn. This means that this style of machine will not go very deep on heavily compacted soil.
- The drum style mechanism does not leave as clean a hole as a cam-driven machine. This is only really an aesthetic problem in home lawns but is not suitable for putting or bowling greens.
Overall, it is a very reliable machine that is widely available across the country
My rating: 8/10
3. Hiring a Lawn Care Business* – $80-$300
Disclaimer: The quality of the aeration is determined by the quality of the machine. Not all businesses are the same. $80-300 is an estimate of aeration costs for common sizes of residential lawns.
In my opinion, the highest quality option for residential lawn coring is to hire a specialised lawn care business that has invested in high quality cam-driven aerators or stand-on drum style aerators. These machines cost $8000 to $30 000 (sometimes more) and the depth and quality of aeration is far superior to any other options. In fact, these are the type of machines that are used on golf courses across the world.
A surprising benefit to hiring a specialised lawn care business is that it can actually be cheaper to pay a business to do the job for you than to hire a machine yourself (especially if trailer hire is also needed). It’s definitely worth getting a free quote and seeing if this option is right for you.
Stand-on drum style:
The aeration mechanism on these machines is exactly the same as the Bluebird style mentioned above. However, because they are a stand-on machine, there is significantly more weight pushing on each tine (around 500kg). This means that the core depth is much deeper than one can achieve with a Bluebird, especially in highly compacted soil. They are also significantly faster, especially in large open areas.
The only drawback is that the drum style does not leave as clean a hole as a cam-driven aerator, so they are not a good option on low cut turf like putting or bowling greens.
These machines are used on golf courses all over the world. The cam-driven mechanism gives mechanical force on top of the weight of the machine. This means that you get very deep, very clean holes. The force of impact generated by the machine provides additional de-compaction benefits over just punching a hole in the ground.
Some contractors will be using the best machines in the world. So long as this service is within your budget, there really is no drawback to this option.
My rating: 9-10/10 depending on the machine used
Can you hire these machines?
Whilst it is uncommon, there are a few places that do have this level of machine. If hiring is more appealing to you, call around and see if a hire shop local to you has the machine you are looking for. However, be aware that hiring these machines can still be more expensive than paying a specialised business, so get a quote or two to find what is best for you.
Bonus option: Tractor Mounted Aerators.
Tractor mounted aerators typically give the deepest holes and the best results. However, obvious issue with using these in a residential setting is access. Tractors are really only able to do larger open areas.
In addition, because of the expense of these machines many operators may have a minimum charge of $500-$1000 so even for larger rural properties this may not be the best option
Whilst the Bunnings options seem cheap, they are actually worse value for money because they are so ineffective.
If you want the cheapest effective option, the garden fork is great.
If you want the highest quality results, call your local contractor and get a quote.
Silverstone Gardening provides high quality cam-driven aeration services by qualified and experienced gardeners. Contact us today if you would like a quote.