I Recommend This Hollow Tine Aerator

+ I’ll suggest some alternatives

Tested by Daniel Woodley. Fact checked by Elizabeth Smith.  Published to Products on the 27th March 2023.

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Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator, Manual Grass Dethatching Turf Plug, Core Aerating Tool, Garden Tool, Heavy Duty Aeration for Compacted Soils and Lawns to Prevent Lawn Run-Off and Soil Compaction
Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator, Manual Grass Dethatching Turf Plug, Core Aerating Tool, Garden Tool, Heavy Duty Aeration for Compacted Soils and Lawns to Prevent Lawn Run-Off and Soil Compaction
Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator, Manual Grass Dethatching Turf Plug, Core Aerating Tool, Garden Tool, Heavy Duty Aeration for Compacted Soils and Lawns to Prevent Lawn Run-Off and Soil Compaction
Walensee Lawn Coring Aerator, Manual Grass Dethatching Turf Plug, Core Aerating Tool, Garden Tool, Heavy Duty Aeration for Compacted Soils and Lawns to Prevent Lawn Run-Off and Soil Compaction

Professional gardeners and lawn experts use tools to remove plugs of soil from lawns, and this has many benefits:

  • Aerates the soil.
  • Relieves soil compaction.
  • Improves drainage and drying.
  • Is far more effective than using a garden fork.

If you have a small or medium-sized lawn, I recommend a manual hollow tine aerator and on this page, I’ll show you the tool I’m currently using in my garden and how I use it.

I’ve previously worked on huge lawns so if a manual tool isn’t practical for you, I know of another tool that would be perfect.

Walensee Hollow Tine Aerator

Closeup of the hollow tine aerator during our test

Specifications

Weight: 1.4kg | Height: 94cm/37″ | Material: Coated Steel | Tine Depth: 10cm/4″| Tine Width: 15mm (narrowest) | Handle: Soft Rubber | Method: Auto Eject | Number of Tines: 2 |

My Experience With This Hollow Tine Aerator

I’ve used several hollow tine aerators in the past on my own lawn and also for past clients, so I have plenty of experience.

I recommend this tool because:

  • When I tested it, I found that it was easier to push into the ground than similar tools with 4 or 5 tines.
  • I’ve used it to remove hundreds of soil cores and it rarely clogged.
  • The ejected cores were longer than those of other tools I’ve tested.
  • The build quality is better than cheaper alternatives that have poor welds and flimsy metal.
  • I have a small lawn and I didn’t want to buy an expensive or bulky tool and this met my requirements.

Where This Tool Excels

Based on my past experience and testing of this aerator, I feel the user will get better results in heavy, organic-rich soils that compact and clog easily. It will still work in sandy soils, but it probably won’t achieve much as these are usually well-aerated anyway. Given that it has two tines, I feel it’s better suited to small and medium-sized gardens (unless you’re feeling energetic).

Features I Like The Most

The following features stood out for me:

  • It has a comfortable handle that never caused me any discomfort or pain.
  • The metal was sturdy and the welds looked solid.
  • The tines are cone-shaped and thus, are less likely to clog compared to cheaper tools I’ve previously tested.

Missing Features

No product is perfect and at this price range, something had to give:

  • The tines can’t be replaced, so if the user damages them (perhaps by hitting a rock), they’ll have to sharpen them with a disc cutter as they can’t be swapped for new ones. I’ve seen more expensive hollow tine aerators with changeable tines but for my small garden, I couldn’t justify the extra cost.

Issues You May Encounter (I Didn’t)

I know from experience and testing over the years that hollow tine aerators work best in moist soil and when the ground is dry, they can clog. I never experienced this in my garden as I only ever used the tine aerator after heavy rain. I’ve heard of other gardeners using WD40 to keep the tines lubricated but I’ve never felt the need.

Also, I’ve used tools like this on lawns with lots of stones in them before, and the stones did occasionally clog the tines, I found that if I kept a long screwdriver in my pocket, I could quickly unclog it but this was rarely an issue in my garden.

Photos and Test Results

Here are some photos I took of my hollow tine aerator in my garden.

You can see how well it performed:

Walensee tine aerator
Soil plugs
Hollow tine pressed into the ground
Tine size

Also Consider: Yard Butler

Yard Butler Corer

Specifications

Weight: 1.7kg | Height: 94cm/37″ | Material: Coated Steel | Depth: 7.5cm/3″| Handle: Soft Rubber/Foam | Method: Auto Eject | Number of Tines: 2 |

My Opinion of this Alternative

I did a lot of research before publishing this article and while I feel the Walensee hollow tine aerator is the best and I’ve tested it by ejecting hundreds of cores, the Yard Butler is very similar and is my second choice.

Here’s why it didn’t make it to the #1 spot:

  • The Yard Butler tool is a US import.
  • It costs more, currently 62% more expensive.
  • The metal is slightly thinner.

Other than the three points above, the two tools are nearly identical.

Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator - Grass Dethatching Turf Plug Core Aeration Tool - Grass Aerators for Small Yards - Loosen Compacted Soil - Gardening Hand Tools - Gray, 37 Inches
Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator - Grass Dethatching Turf Plug Core Aeration Tool - Grass Aerators for Small Yards - Loosen Compacted Soil - Gardening Hand Tools - Gray, 37 Inches
Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator - Grass Dethatching Turf Plug Core Aeration Tool - Grass Aerators for Small Yards - Loosen Compacted Soil - Gardening Hand Tools - Gray, 37 Inches
Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator - Grass Dethatching Turf Plug Core Aeration Tool - Grass Aerators for Small Yards - Loosen Compacted Soil - Gardening Hand Tools - Gray, 37 Inches

One to Avoid

Poor quality hollow tine

My Experience With This Hollow Tine Aerator

This was the first hollow tine aerator I ever used, and there are hundreds of copies of this tool on sale in the UK under various brand names, and from what I can tell, they are all identical.

Here are the issues I encountered when I used this tool:

1) I found it very difficult to press into the ground as the device has five tines, and it took me a lot of effort and stamping on the bar to get them into the soil, which obviously increases wear and tear, and the risk of it breaking. I also used tools with four tines, and they were just as difficult.

2) One of the tines snapped off on the tool when I used it, and upon closer inspection, I could see that the hollow tine was spot-welded onto the bar – this isn’t a strong type of weld and I feel it isn’t appropriate for this equipment.

3) The overall feel of this hollow tine aerator was flimsy and in my opinion, cheaply made.

I don’t recommend this hollow tine aerator or any manual tool with four or more tines.

How to Aerate Large Lawns

Hollow tine lawn aerator machine

Photo from Wellers Hire (the cheapest hirer I could find during my research)

If you own a large lawn, based on my experience, I feel your best bet would be to bring in a lawn or landscaping company to aerate it for you once a year, but if you want to do this yourself, you can hire mechanical hollow tine aerators.

I’ve hired several of these over the years, and the tines don’t go quite as deep, but I could still pull out about 6cm/2.5″ of soil, and I found it really easy to use the machine.

Also, some hire shops allow you to hire the machine for just half a day, which works out cheaper, and I’ve found some (often local hirers) offer a very reasonable delivery and collection service.

I checked prices online from several hire shops that I randomly selected in March 2023; here’s how much it costs:

Hirer:Price:
HSS (National)£88 (one day)
Brandon Tool Hire (National)£82 (one day)
HireBase (National)£53 (one day)
Wellers Hire (Eastbourne)£46.50 (half day)
KSS Hire (Wickford Essex)£73 (one day)

FAQs

As I have lots of experience in the art of lawncare and below I’ll try to answer questions, you may have about hollow tine aerators and lawn aeration in general:

How Many Times a Year Should a Lawn be Aerated?

I’ve found that lawns take time to recover from aeration, and it’s best to carry out this procedure no more than once a year.

When is The Best Time of Year to Aerate a Lawn?

I feel that autumn is the best time of year as this is when the grass is actively growing, and whenever I’ve done it at this time, it recovered quickly and helped with drainage as autumn went into winter.

In the summer, grass often goes into dormancy due to the heat and aeration at this time can stress the lawn. Last year my lawn was brown for about 6 weeks and there’s no way aeration should be done when the lawn is in this condition.

Winter is a time when the grass puts on little growth, so it will take much longer to recover.

Spring is also a good time, provided the lawn has a chance to recover before the hot summer arrives.

Can I Aerate a Lawn With a Garden Fork?

Plenty of gardeners aerate their lawns by using a garden fork, but it’s probably best suited to smaller gardens. Also, as you’re pressing the fork into the ground, it’s actually compacting the soil on either side of the fork, so it’s not as effective as hollow tine aerators that remove a plug of soil.

What's The Difference Between Aerating and Scarifying?

Lawn scarifying is the process of raking out thatch and dead grass from the base of the lawn and scratching the soil’s surface. This helps to free up space at the bottom of the pile for new grass to grow into, but does little for the soil underneath.

Aeration introduces light and oxygen into the soil and also loosens it up, helping to relieve compaction. This encourages strong root growth, which helps the lawn thrive.

When working on small gardens, I’ve always found a wire rake is enough to scarify and pull out the dead matter, moss and anything else clogging up the base of the lawn. I’ve only ever used specialist mechanical tools on larger lawns and those with significant amounts of moss and thatch.

Should I Fill The Hole With Sand?

I’ve seen gardeners fill the holes with sand as this helps with drainage but I’ve only ever done this on fine ornamental lawns, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary on regular lawns. Make sure you use washed sand not “lawn sand” which contains iron sulphate and fertilisers.

What Happens if I Don't Aerate My Lawn?

Plenty of gardeners never aerate their lawns, but I’ve seen lawns over time become so compacted that the roots struggle to penetrate deep, and the result was a lawn nowhere near its potential. 

How often you need to aerate the lawn will depend on how compacted the soil is, I’ve worked on some that benefited from yearly aeration and also some that only needed it every few years.

Based on my experience, lawns grown in heavy soils with lots of dense organic matter benefit the most, while sandy soils need aerating less often, if at all.

Author: Daniel Woodley

Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.

He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.

Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.

More About Daniel Woodley.

Daniel Woodley

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Daniel has used dozens of different lawn aeration over the last 18 years and selected products for this review, based on his experience:

Walensee Hollow Tine Aerator – Daniel has owned this tool for 4 years and uses it yearly on his lawn.

Yard Butler – This tool was selected as it’s very similar to the Walemnsee tool, has only 2 tines and has great reviews.

The 5-Tine Aerator – Daniel previously owned this tine aerator and wanted to warn about this and similar devices as they are made from thin metal with poor-quality welds, as shown in the photos.

Hired Aerators – Daniel has hired and used dozens of mechanical hollow tine aerators and suggested this for those with large gardens based on his experience.

We also asked horticulturist Elizabeth Smith to review and fact-check this guide as she’s the most qualified of the team here at DIY Gardening.

Explore: Elizabeth Smith’s profile and qualifications.

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