How well do pull behind aerators work? Aeration is vital for a healthy lawn since it allows nutrients, air, and moisture to penetrate lawn thatch or built-up grass.
And while nearly everyone uses walk-behind aerators for small properties, that little thing is a pain if you have like an acre (or larger) yard to aerate.
It takes more time to complete the job, but sometimes, walk behind gives you a real workout, and you may feel like you have just competed in an insanely tough wrestling match when you’re done!
If you have the proper equipment to tow the implement, a pull behind aerator can be a great idea- it certainly cuts down on your labor time and save you from physical wear and tear.
Most notably, these machines can carry more weights so you can put as much as you’d like for deeper penetration on terribly compacted soils. Now, while all these sound like serious pluses, how effective are pull behind aerators? And how well do pull behind aerators work?
Here’s the breakdown.
Two Choices: Spike Aerator Vs Plug Aerator
Most homeowners are aware that just like with walk behinds, you have to decide between a plug and a spike aerator if you’re considering going the tow behind way.
Here is what you need to know:
Spike aerators usually feature spiked stars (or blades) that perforate the surface and thatch layer to loosen compacted soils and make your lawn breathe. On the other hand, plug aerators come with hollow plugging spoons that slice into the ground and pull out little “plugs” of soil (the plugs are normally 2-3”).
The aerator deposits the plugs on the surface of your lawn as it continues moving. The holes it leaves reinvigorates root growth and will transform lackluster grass into the greenest, thickest, and healthiest lawns in the neighborhood.
To cut to the chase, hire or purchase a tow behind spike aerator if your yard is just lightly to moderately compacted- poking holes into the ground mostly helps relieve minor compaction.
That means plug or core aerators are the best choice for heavy clay or severely compacted soils (but cost a lot more).
That is because pulling out cores of dirt and thatch creates a passage through which necessities like oxygen and nutrients penetrate the root system even in the harshest conditions.
With that tackled, let’s turn our attention to that prime question: How well do pull behind aerators work, and are they worth the cost?
Keep scrolling for answers.
How well do pull behind aerators work?
The short answer is: they work perfectly and can make a massive difference in lawns that are in dire need of aeration.
Whether you pick a tow-behind plug or spike aerator, these aeration tools are the most efficient options for big lawns, athletic fields, and other expansive areas having compaction issues.
First, they pierce deeper into the soil because they hold more weight to create room for nutrients and water to circulate, making your yard a friendly home for your grass.
Indeed, some core aerators can aerate up to 4-inches deep due to the longer, tougher core tines (experts consider a depth of 3” sufficient). Plus, for the most part, today’s designs are advanced and custom-engineered to ensure no spot goes without aeration.
For example, the spikes in this Tow Behind Spike Aerator rotate individually and continue revolving as you turn. This results in fewer missed areas (meaning you don’t need to make countless repeat passes).
Most modern-day tow-behind plug aerators are built in manner and can penetrate difficult soil conditions consistently without missing a beat.
Next, the wider swath offered by these rear-mounted attachments will help you do the job faster than when you’re working with walk-behinds (targeted at small to mid-sized properties).
On the flip side, the width might make it harder to take sharp turns- and some owners find this annoying. The good news is that most of the top ones come with caster heads that swivel, allowing it to turn more smoothly when aerating, even on uneven terrain.
The independently rotating tines also mean it can turn tight corners without tearing up your lawn (like it’s the case with traditional drum-style aerators).
To put things in context, most walk-behind drum aerators are designed to be operated in a set pattern- you go back and forth- on the yard and are difficult to turn in the ground.
This being so, you need to disengage its tines from the grass (with the handle) to avoid damaging the turf.
In short, a tow–behind core aerator is probably right for you if you have a vast yard, a sports field, or other huge, high traffic areas in urgent need of aeration.
A word on spring assisted core plug aerators
If your funds allow and you are after professional results, consider a spring-assisted core plug aerator.
It tends to be gentler on a lawn and is markedly more effective than standard pull-behind aerators for large aerating jobs. The secret is the unique spring-assisted tines- because of the thrust the springs inject, the tines articulate easily to create more defined ‘holes.’
As a result, the plugger pulls out flawless full plugs every time, even on extra hard, dry soils. This thorough aeration leads to superior soil drainage and expeditiously for lawn supplements to infiltrate the roots.
In general, tow-behind aerators are the way to go for large yards- they work pretty well (as you have just learned) and are the most time-saving aeration tools. As mentioned, a tow behind core aerator is ideal for deeply compacted soils, whilst a spike aerator should be fine for light to moderate compaction.
It’s worth adding that you should look for a model with individually-replaceable plugging spoons if you’re eyeing a plug aerator- replacement will be quick and inexpensive.
Regardless of your chosen type, pick an aerator that attaches easily to your garden tractor or lawnmower using a hitch pin.
One last point: For best results, select an aerator that provides enough capacity to add additional weight (for maximum penetration).
References and Citations:
Virginia Cooperative Extension: Aerating Your Lawn- https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/430/430-002/430-002_pdf.pdf
Kansas State University: Aerating Your Lawn- https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf2130.pdf