The 5 Best Pull Behind Aerators For 2023: Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Whether you have a large yard or just a small patch of land to care for, keeping your lawn healthy and looking good takes time and effort. When it comes to keeping your lawn looking its best, one of the most important things you can do is aerate it – at some point, every homeowner with a lawn and garden will need to aerate their soil.

There are a number of different ways to aerate your lawn. One of the easiest and most popular methods is aerating with a pull behind aerator. If you’re in the market for a new pull behind aerator for your home, then you’ve come to the right place; read on for our buyer’s guide and reviews.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best models on the market today and give you our thoughts on each one, and we’ll recommend five models that we think are the best options for 2023. We’ll also provide you with a buyer’s guide so that you can figure out which model is right for you. So, whether you’re looking for something durable and easy to use, or something that can handle large areas quickly, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!​

What is an Aerator?

Essentially, a lawn aerator is a machine that punches holes into your soil to allow air and water to reach the roots of your grass. This process is also known as spiking or coring, and there are manual and walk behind aerators available on the market today. There are spike aerators as well as core aerators a.k.a. plug aerators.

How Does Aeration Benefit My Lawn?

Aeration is a great method for curing a compacted lawn. It your lawn helps to improve drainage, encourages strong root growth, and helps to prevent thatch build-up.

Lawn thatch is a layer of decomposing organic matter that, when it is a decent thickness, can protect the grass by regulating temperature and reducing evapotranspiration, but too much thatch may hinder soil oxygenation and reduce the effectiveness of rainfall or watering. Compaction of soil prevents grass from developing long roots and disrupts both natural and artificial irrigation.

Aeration is the process of removing thatch and reducing soil compaction, allowing grass roots to multiply. Core or spike aerating causes the roots to fracture or divide, which rarely occurs naturally. The roots of the grass are cut, causing the blades of grass to proliferate and the lawn to become thick and deeply rooted as the holes fill with more roots.

Different Types of Aeration

There are two main ways in which aeration can affect your lawn, depending on what type of machine you have. There is spike aeration and core/plug aeration.

Spike Aeration

A spike aerator works by pushing the dirt sideways with wedge-shaped spikes as they pierce through the soil. Because no soil is taken from the ground, watering will cause the compacted dirt around the holes to expand and close.

Spike aeration is the more appropriate type of aeration for soils that are sandy or loamy.

Core/Plug Aeration

A plug, or core, aerator pulls plugs of soil out of the ground, which helps to break up the soil, improve drainage, and allow air and water to penetrate more deeply. Core aeration breaks up compacted soil and allows the holes to stay open for a long time, allowing air, fertilizers, and water to flow through the roots.

Core aeration is more effective in heavy clay soils.

Different Aerator Types

In addition to the differences between an aerator that performs spike aeration and one that operates with plug or core aeration, there are also multiple different types of each of these aerators. One of the key differences is that between manual aerators and powered aerators.

Manual Aerators

Manual aerators usually have two to five hollow tines mounted on a step bar. The operator puts one foot on the step bar and push it downward, forcing the tines to penetrate into the soil. Then he pulls the handle on the step bar upward to remove the soil cores out of the ground. By repeating the same operation, the cores left in the tines will be pushed out by the next ones.

Manual aerators are far less expensive than powered ones. They are also more easy to use, and you can more readily choose where you want to aerate and where you don’t. The disadvantage is that they operate at a slower speed than powered aerators.

Powered Aerators

Lawn aerators that are powered have a motor at their base and work by pushing tines into the ground. These machines may quickly aerate a big lawn, and can operate at speeds similar to a lawn mower.

Push Vs. Pull-Behind Aerators

Push aerators are also known as walk-behind aerators. Walk behind aerators, as the name implies, entails walking behind them and pushing them to aerate your grass, which may be a difficult task if you have a medium-size or more spacious yard.

Pull-behind aerators use a three pronged, toothed attachment that comes into contact with the ground and punches holes automatically. Pull-behind aerators either have their own internal power source or are towed behind a lawn mower or ATV.

When To Aerate Your Lawn

When is the best time to aerate your lawn? The general consensus for the best time to aerate your lawn is during the season that your grass has its most significant root growth. A dormant lawn should not be aerated.

If you have a warm-season grass that is native to southern, more tropical lawns, like Zoysia Grass, Bermuda Grass, St. Augustine Grass, or others, the optimal times to aerate are in the late spring to early summer.

On the other hand, if you have a cool-season grass that would be common in northern lawns, such as Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Fescue, the best season to aerate these is early fall or early spring. Aerating in the fall season helps prepare your grass to be greener and thicker the following year.

You also have to take weather and soil conditions into account. On the one hand, you don’t want to aerate a completely wet lawn. This could damage your soil structurally, and dirt you pull up via core aeration could blow or wash away if it’s raining.

However, you also don’t want to aerate when it’s too dry. This could lead to your lawn becoming more compacted. Make sure your lawn is at least moist when working on it.

How To Pick A Quality Pull Behind Aerator

Aerator Width and Lawn Size

If you have a big property, get a pull-behind aerator that is extra wide so that you can aerate in fewer passes. On the other hand, if you have a small property or one with many tight places, consider purchasing a smaller, narrower pull behind aerator.

Level of Compaction/Soil Type

You should check out the type of soil that your lawn has before purchasing an aerator, whether it’s a pull behind model or not. The more compact your soil is, the heavier duty the plug aerator has to be. It will also require additional weight and more force to dig the spoons into the dirt.

Number of Spoons

Spoons, or knives, are what the metal tines that plunge into the ground are called. Wider plug aerators have more spoons, and narrower ones have fewer, but they’re in approximately the same proportion to the width, so you won’t necessarily get more spoons per foot with a wider tow behind aerator.

Core Depth

The objective of lawn aeration is to enhance air and water penetration while encouraging deeper root development. As a result of this, the depth at which your aerator spoons are intended to dig will influence the amount of soil removed.

Any cores taken from the soil should be approximately 3 inches deep, up to 0.75 in diameter, and the gaps between them should be no more than 3 inches apart.

Tray Weight Capacity

Pull behind plug aerators frequently include a weighted tray, which is used to push the spoons into the dirt. A 100 pound tray capacity will suffice for most compacted regions, but you’ll need to increase it a few notches if you’re dealing with more difficult soil. You could also build additional tray weights out of cinder blocks.

Pneumatic vs Flat-Free Tires

Tires filled with air are referred to as pneumatic. They provide a smooth ride, but they can be prone to flats. Solid polyurethane “flat-free” tires are now available in newer pull behind models, and, while they generally cost more than pneumatic tires, do not suffer from deflation.

Materials and Durability

You want to choose a two-behind aerator that is constructed of long-lasting materials. To minimize the risk of different parts rusting after a few years of usage, look for one that is made with galvanized metal.

Maneuverability and Usability

The different types of tires will determine whether or not an aerator is equipped to handle the terrain of your lawn. If you want to go for flat-free tires, your lawn needs to be relatively flat and without many holes or bumps, or else the tires will bump and could jostle your tractor or riding mower. Pneumatic tires in that instance will give you a more comfortable and less problematic ride.

Additionally, the aerator’s transport handle should be simple to use so that you can easily raise and lower the aerator knives, allowing you to easily move it from one end of your lawn to the other.

Ease of Assembly

It’s far easier for everyone involved to choose an aerator that will be up and operating in a matter of minutes. Some have complicated instructions that take time to follow.


The price of a pull-behind plug aerator depends on its size, brand, features, and other considerations. Also, while some models are a lot cheaper than others, you probably want to go for a mid to high price product, because these will provide you with years of quality service, and lawn aeration is one of those areas that you don’t want to skimp in.

Reviews For Top 5 Pull Behind Aerators

Here are five of the most popular pull behind plug aerators available online, which you can choose from to determine which product is best for you and your lawn!

#1. Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator,Orange & Black,Large
  • 32 galvanized knives to penetrate the soil easily.
  • Pulls plugs up to 3 inches deep for thicker and healthier lawn.
  • Flat free tires for smooth transport.
  • Simple-to-use cantilever transport handle for easy raising and lowering.

The Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator is the top pull behind plug aerator we have found currently on the market. It has everything you want in a tow behind aerator. It is 48 inches wide, one of the widest aerators available, so you can work on a large yard and get more done in a shorter amount of time. It also has 32 galvanized metal spoons that penetrate deep into the soil easily, pulling up to 3 inches of dirt, allowing the necessary water, nutrition, and air into your lawn’s roots and giving you a healthier and thicker grass lawn.

Its flat-free tires provide a smooth transport and ride for whatever tractor or riding lawn mower you are using, in addition to a simple-to-use cantilever transport handle to easily raise and lower the machine. The tray weight can hold up to 175 pounds for even deeper and more effective penetration. With a 3 year limited warranty, this model will be covered for multiple seasons.

#2. Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator, 40", Black
  • 24 heat-treated plugging spoons
  • Durable, all steel design
  • Easy transport with 10" semi-pneumatic rubber tread tires
  • Each plugging spoon is individually serviceable
  • Includes assembly skin pack with parts break down and full pictorial instructions.

The Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator is another great pull behind plug aerator. This is a 40 inch model, so it will be great for smaller lawns or those with some tight spaces or corners that are hard to maneuver for bigger models. It boasts 24 heat-treated, 16-gauge steel plugging spoons that can get the job done in any situation.

These spoons penetrate deep into the ground and remove up to 3 inches of soil. Additionally, this Brinly aerator has a new design that has narrow, sharpened plug ends to make penetration easier and reduce weight. The all-steel design is sturdy and can hold up to 150 pounds of additional tray weight if you need it.

The tines are heat-treated for strength and the 10-inch semi-pneumatic rubber tread wheels are flat-free so they won’t pop during your lawn work. The three tines sections are welded to rotate independently, reducing grass damage during turns while also ensuring uniform penetration on uneven ground. It also features a single universal hitch to attach to any tractor or riding mower that you have, and a single transport lever to easily engage transport mode.

#3. Brinly PA-48BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

Brinly PA-48BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator, 48"
  • 32 heat-treated plugging spoons
  • Durable, all steel design
  • Easy transport with 10" semi-pneumatic rubber tread tires
  • Each plugging spoon is individually serviceable
  • Includes assembly skin pack with parts break down and full pictorial instructions.

The Brinly PA-48BH 48″ Tow Behind Plug Aerator is the 48 inch model of the Brinley pull behind plug aerator listed above. This means it has all of the same benefits as the other Brinley plug aerator, and even has an upgrade in a few spots. It is wider and more cumbersome, however, so only get this model over the other one if you have a wide, open yard with fewer obstacles or tight spaces to maneuver within.

The Brinly PA-48BH has 32 steel spoons so you can help your compacted lawn in a fast and efficient manner, and the fully-enclosed weight tray can hold up to a whopping 200 extra pounds of weight, should you ever need it. It is also easy to maintain and service, so it will last you a long time. The spoons may all be adjusted by hand, allowing for rapid and simple replacement in the event of a tine breakage.

#4. Agri-Fab 45-0518 40-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Agri-Fab 45-0518 40" Tow Plug Aerator,black
  • 40-Inch wide working width
  • 24 Galvanized and sharpened plug coring knives
  • 10" x 3" Pneumatic Tires allow for smooth transport
  • Single lever transport handle folds for storage

Like the two Brinely models listed above, the next pull behind plug aerator on our list, the Agri-Fab 45-0518 40-Inch Tow Plug Aerator, is a similar model but different size to the Agri-Fab plug aerator listed at the top spot in our reviews. This mode is 40 inches wide, which means it is perfect for medium sized gardens, or ones with a lot of hard-to-maneuver areas within it.

This product boasts 24 plug coring spoons that are both galvanized and sharpened, so they can penetrate a full 3 inches into the dirt. It also has a universal hitch that fits to any tractor, regardless of brand or model, so you don’t have to worry about fit. It has flat-free tires and a 140 pound capacity on its weight tray.

#5. Craftsman CMXGZBF7124213 40-Inch Tow Plug Aerator

Craftsman CMXGZBF7124213 40-Inch Tow Plug Aerator, Red
  • 24 galvanized Steel coring points pull plugs from your lawn up to 3 in. Deep
  • Prepares soils for spring or fall planting
  • Wide Width Weight tray supports up to 140 lb. Of ballast for tougher coring action
  • Flat free tires roll smoothly over your lawn
  • Release on the lift handle with easy-to-store design that can be stored against a wall

The Craftsman CMXGZBF7124213 40-Inch Tow Plug Aerator, while it may be the final pull behind aerator on our list, is by no means lesser than any of the products mentioned above it. It features 24 coring pull plugs that are made with galvanized steel, and they all can penetrate up to 3 inches under the soil of your lawn. In addition, the wide width weight tray supports 140 extra pounds of ballast in order to provide tougher coring action if your lawn demands it.

Prepare your lawn and garden for spring or fall planting with this sturdy but smooth-operating pull behind plug aerator. It features flat-free tires that roll smoothly along your lawn’s surface, an easy-to-store design so it can be stored against a wall in your garage or shed, a robust, heavy-gauge welded drawbar and steel deck structure, and a simply designed cantilever transport handle for steady spoon raising and lowering.


The best pull behind aerators for 2023 are reviewed in this article, including their pros and cons. So, if you are looking for a pull behind aerator to make your lawn look better and healthier this spring, we hope these reviews have been helpful as well as our buyer’s guide to understanding all the features and benefits of each type of aeration tool on the market today.

Remember, the first step is always deciding what type of lawn your property has, and then finding an aerator that will work best for it! Is your lawn small? A light-duty machine might suffice. If you have a larger yard with tougher soil conditions or are looking for added capacity, we recommend going with one of our top picks like the Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator.

We hope that we have helped you find an aerator that meets all your needs! Did this article help clear up some confusion about how to pick out the perfect aerator for you? Let us know in the comments below if there’s anything else we can do to help steer you towards success!

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.