If the idea of a powerfully built homemade pull behind lawn aerator tickles your fancy right now (and it’s probably true, considering the beyond-reach prices of today’s top models), you may want to look closely at the tutorial we have pieced together below to help you build your own lawn aerator.
As improbable as it may seem, our DIY lawn aerator -built largely from cheap materials – does the job just as ably as the “premium” brands that are every homeowner’s dream.
The good news is that it’s not as hard to make as you think.
Scroll down to learn how to build a pull behind lawn aerator for your large yard now!
How to build a pull behind lawn aerator (spike tow behind lawn aerator)
The spike DIY tow behind lawn aerator is based, literally and engineering-wise, on a regular five-gallon oil drum and standard pipe holdfasts- these will give us tapered spikes about 3-inches long.
Essentially, we will rework the drum – and fix the desired number of spikes, based on the circumference of the drum- into an easy-rolling lawn aerator that lets water, nutrients, and air reach the grass roots for a lusher, more beautiful lawn.
Any other big enough metal cylinder can be used instead of the drum- all we want is towable aerating equipment that is sturdy and long-lasting.
- Five-gallon oil drum (use a drum that is still in a fairly good condition and without dents).
- Pipe holdfasts- you can buy these from an ironmonger.
- Enough sad and cement- depends on the circumference of your drum.
- Granite chippings (fine) or gravel.
- A copper pipe- long enough to work as an axle.
- A drill
How to build a pull behind lawn aerator – Step-by-step directions:
Getting the drum ready
If your drum has an opening, skip to the next step. Note that you want the hole to be sizeable. But how big? You’re good to go if the space can accommodate your hand.
In the absence of a hole, remove the end of your drum completely- simply melt the solder- or cut a big enough hole.
You can, for example, drill a couple of small holes – arrange them in a fairly large circle- then knock through the small pieces that separate them using a cold chisel
Get the spikes
Sorry, I cannot tell you the exact number of spikes you’ll need- it’s again a question of the size of the cylinder you’re adapting.
What is important is to have an adequate number of solid spikes -3 to 3 ½-inches long to be clear- to pierce the ground and remove the soil compaction effectively.
A semi-circular loop (at the other end of your tapered spikes) is vital- it helps holds the pipe when knocked, for instance, into a wall.
Mounting the spikes
With the spikes ready, your next logical step is putting them into place.
This task has several procedures you need to complete:
Step 1: Marking the drum
The first thing is to mark the holes where the holdfasts will be inserted. Use chalk to draw a mark-outside of your drum -where each spike will go.
Remember that your spikes will be positioned in rows, and the optimal distance is approximately 4” apart (in the rows).
On the same note, leave a 5 inches (or so) gap between individual rows.
Step 2: Making the holes
Now make the openings themselves.
Just grab a holdfast and use it as a punch. You simply drive the spike through (from the outside) to its broadest point.
And since the spike of holdfasts tends to be wider than the thickness, you should ensure the holes are rectangular. That way, the longest side will parallel the drum’s edge.
Step 3: Insert the holdfasts
Next, stand the drum on its end- you can place it on a soft surface or even two bricks so that you’ll have the end of the axle-carrying pipe protruding about 2 inches when you put it in step 4 down.
Now insert your holdfasts -you’re doing this from inside your drum- and tap them lightly. Stop tapping when the curved part has come up against the inner side of the cylinder.
Step 4: Fill the drum
To fill the drum:
Mix an adequate amount of cement and sand. The recommended ratio is; one part cement: one part sand: three parts clean gravel or fine granite chippings.
Check that the mixture is sufficiently moist, and if satisfied, put the pipe right in the center and ensure it runs through to the other end (until it protrudes as described earlier), then pour the cement mixture in.
Press the cement gently using a cane or even an ordinary stick.
The whole point is to see that the mixture has been pressed solidly between the curve of the holdfasts and the inner side of the drum. Once you are done filling, leave the drum standing on its end until the mixture hardens.
Step 5: Attach a pulling handle
If you have a lawnmower that you no longer use, you can modify the handle and fix it through the pipe to be used to pull the aerator.
The good news is that your options are unlimited, and with some imagination, you can adapt the handle to hook up to the hitch on your lawn tractor or ATV.
This is the most practical way to tow it if you’re aerating a large property. This is not cast in stone, so feel free to experiment and find ways of including more features. For example, a lift mechanism can be great for transportation and end of rows.
Likewise, weights could be necessary if you’re handling a badly compacted yard. Now, if you’re creative, you can play around with the above design and invent a way of adding some weights.
Bottom-line is: Aerating your lawn helps revive your property’s damaged turf, and this DIY pull-behind lawn aerator can make all the difference if you don’t have spare bucks lying around.
Give it a try.
References and Citations:
1. Texas AgriLife Extension Service: Simple Steps to Lawn Care- https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/travis/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Simple_Steps_Lawn_Care_2009.pdf
2. Instructables Living: Lawn Aerator- https://www.instructables.com/Lawn-Aerator/