Tow aerators are the best type of lawn aerator to aerate very large areas of grass. They are simple to attach to a riding lawn mower or tractor. As they are pulled along, the rotating tines put holes into the ground, loosening up the compressed dirt to encourage deep root growth. They also add more air and space to the soil, making it easier for water and nutrients to move freely through the ground so the roots can easily get what they need to sustain healthy grass.
Choosing the Right Tow Behind Aerator
For an average-sized model, expect to spend $300-$700. With rental prices of around $100 a day, purchasing one will eventually save you money. Plus you can avoid the hassle of transporting it to and from the aerator rental center each time you need it.
Be sure that the aerator you choose can be correctly attached and pulled by the lawn mower or tractor you own. Their size, width, length and weight vary by model, so read specifications carefully. Most are 3-4 feet wide and about 5-6 feet long. They typically weigh 500-1000 pounds before any additional weight is added. On average, a tow-behind will aerate at up to 4mph, or around 1.5 acres per hour.
Most tow aerators have multiple tine wheels that rotate as they move over the ground. Choose ones with hollow tines that will remove dirt cores over those that have solid spikes for the best results. Curved models will follow the contours of the ground better and will more consistently aerate in uneven areas. Be sure that the design allows you to turn when the tines are in the ground, making it much easier and faster to maneuver.
How to Use an Aerator
Begin by properly attaching the tow lawn aerator to the tractor or lawn mower. If necessary, add additional weight with lead, sand or water depending on how the aerator is designed. The extra weight helps the tines get farther into the compressed soil. Start aerating, then check to see that they are getting in deeply enough. If not, try adding additional weight.
Tow aerators or pull aerators are wider than other kinds of aerators. This means that more area is covered in a faster time, with more tines putting more holes into the ground. They make quick work of larger lawns. However, the additional width makes them more awkward to maneuver. It is best to go in long rows or in a circular pattern around the lawn. Be sure to carefully clean dirt and any small stones from the tines after each use.
When to Aerate
Aerating should be done at least every three years. Ground that is heavily compacted or easily compacted will need to be aerated more frequently, every year or two. It is important to have good soil conditions for lawn aeration before beginning. If the dirt is too hard, it will be difficult for the tines to get far enough into the ground and make quality holes. If the soil is too soggy, the holes will not last very long and the process will not be as beneficial.
Also pay attention to the time of year you plan to aerate. In general, aerate in the early spring or late fall. The grass will do best with a month of cool (but not cold) temperatures and plenty of water. Aeration is stressful on the grass plants and can cause them to dry out more quickly, so it is best not to aerate in the summer. After aerating is a great time to overseed and fertilize. You’ll see the most benefits from all three when you do them in conjunction.