When and Where to Rent a Lawn Aerator

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Renting an aerator is a great way to ensure a healthier lawn. Here's a guide for picking the lawn aerator rental that's right for you.

One of the best ways to care for your lawn is with core aeration. Pulling out those little plugs of earth allows water and nutrients to penetrate deeper below ground, resulting in less watering and fertilizing. Best of all, aeration gives roots room to grow, so your lawn will be more resilient when faced with harsh conditions such as drought or high temperatures.

The bad news? Aerators are costly, difficult to store and only used once or twice a year. While those with small yards might get by with an inexpensive, easy-to-store hand aerator, it makes more sense for the vast majority of DIYers to rent a lawn aerator instead of buying one.

When Should I Rent a Lawn Aerator?

In general, you should aerate your lawn shortly before growing season. Early-growing, cool-season grass should be aerated in late fall or early spring, while a lawn with warm-season grass should be aerated in late spring. If you’re not sure when your grass’s growing season is, err on the early side of spring.

Aerate on the day after a moderate rainfall, when the ground is damp but not saturated. Too little water makes for a rough day as you struggle with a bouncing, jolting machine. Too much water makes it messy, with water spraying out of the machine and the plugs turning to mud.

If you rent during a dry spell, water the lawn the day before to guarantee good conditions.

What Type of Lawn Aerator to Rent

Be sure to look for a plug aerator, which pulls a small cylinder of soil from the ground. Spike aerators don’t remove the plug. While they do allow water and nutrients into the hole, spike aerators leave the soil immediately around the hole even more compacted than when you started.

There are three types of aerator to consider when renting.

Pull-behind

Affordable and less expensive to rent than a powered aerator, these are a great choice if you already own a riding lawn mower. A pull-behind model such as this one from Brinly hitches to the rear of a riding lawn mower and can be dragged around as you are cutting the lawn or making an aeration tour. They’re great for larger lawns that would take forever to do by hand. Look for one with at least two height settings — one for aeration and one for transport — so you won’t leave pockmarks when you cross the driveway or sidewalk.

Gas Powered

These machines may look like a push mower or snow blower, but they’re more difficult to control. Because they’re penetrating the ground with significant force, they will buck and kick as they hit rocks and dense patches of soil. They’re heavy, noisy and can be difficult to transport, but they’re the best option for DIYers without a riding lawnmower.

Electric

Electric aerators run on a battery or power cable. Lacking the power of gas-powered machines, they also don’t have the weight required for effective coring, so most are spike aerators intended for light-duty work. It’s much easier to transport and use an electric aerator, and they’re often less expensive to rent than a gas aerator.

Where to Rent a Lawn Aerator

Aerators are available from rental centers such as:

  • Dedicated tool rental shops: These often have multiple rental options, with knowledgeable staff to guide you.
  • Home improvement centers: Big Box stores like Lowe’s and The Home Depot often have dedicated tool rental centers. There are plenty of locations, and it’s hard to beat the convenience of renting your aerator where you pick up your home improvement supplies. They do tend to have fewer options, however, and the knowledge of the staff varies greatly from location to location — or even shift to shift.
  • Nurseries and garden centers: Here the staff is usually quite knowledgeable, but often they don’t have many options or enough machines to meet demand.

No matter where you rent from, be sure to call ahead to verify they have one in stock. Consider reserving one ahead of time if you’re renting during peak springtime usage.

How Much Do Lawn Aerators Cost to Rent?

Pricing will vary by model and location, but as a general rule expect a quality gas-powered core aerator to rent for around $65 for a half day, or $100 for 24 hours. Electric and pull-behind models will be cheaper but have more variation from store to store. For those, figure around $35 to $65 for a half day, or $65 to $100 for a full day.

Be sure to check for options at the rental center as they often carry more than one model. Try out models with different widths, features and horsepower, and before long you’re sure to find the right match for your lawn.

Dan Stout
Dan Stout is a freelance writer and author based in Columbus, Ohio. Dan's non-fiction has appeared on numerous sites and in print, while his prize-winning fiction has been featured in publications such as Nature and The Saturday Evening Post. He is the author of The Carter Archives series of noir fantasy thrillers from DAW Books.