Homemade Lawn Aerator Using a Garden Rake

Spike aeration works through pricking or poking holes beneath the surface of a lawn. This creates space for air to be more easily absorbed into the soil. More importantly, it allows easy absorption of water into the soil.

However, spike aeration does not reduce thatch as well as core aeration, and needs to be performed each year for optimal effectiveness. If your lawn isn't too big, then spike aeration would suffice.

Homemade Garden Lawn Aerator

In a previous entry, I wrote about a DIY improvised lawn aerator which also made use of the garden rake. The problem with this improvised spike aerator was that the spiking device was semi-permanently attached to the garden rake. To reuse garden rake, you'd have to manually remove the metal wire that fastens the aerator device. This can be a tedious and time-consuming effort.

The homemade garden lawn aerator discussed in this article still makes use of the old garden rake. The garden rake is indispensable to the garden aerator device due to the following reasons:
  1. It is easy on the back. You don't need to bend down to aerate the garden lawn.

  2. It provides a good leverage. The long handle of the garden rake allows you to easily pull out the spikes from the ground.

  3. The flat metal prongs on the garden rake allow you to push the garden aerator with your foot into the ground.

How to Make the Lawn Spike Aerator

The specifications of materials you will be needing depends on the prong configuration of your garden rake. The details of materials used conform to the specs of the garden rake I have. The specific measurements work for me and will be provided for discussion purposes only.

  • Garden Rake
  • Wooden Boards - 3 1/2" x 3/4" x 11" long, 2 pcs.
  • Nails - 3", 11 pcs.
  • Wood Screws - 1 1/4" 4 pcs.
  • Eye Screws - 3/4", 3 pcs.
  • Construction Adhesive


  1. Take one of the 2 boards which will become the bottom aerator board. Draw a diamond pattern as shown below.

    The intersection of the lines will be the points where the the aerator spikes (nails) will be placed. Pre-drill small holes on this top aerator board.

    The pre-drilled holes will allow easy hammering of the aerator spikes and will make them more vertical. It will also help prevent the cracking and splintering of the wood.

  2. Hammer the aerator spikes through the bottom aerator board. Ensure the tops of the aerator spikes (head of the nails) are flush with the bottom aerator board. You may want some to use some supports like the weight plates shown below.

    Place the supports on the ground and hammer the spikes in between the supports. Keep the aerator spikes vertical all the time.

  3. Take the second board which will become the top aerator board. Smear construction adhesive at the bottom of the top aerator board and then position this on top of the bottom aerator board. Allow to dry.

  4. Reinforce the adhesion by fastening the aerator boards together with 4 wood screws as shown below.

  5. Attach 3 eye screws on the top of the top aerator board. A sample eye screw is shown above on top of the board. The 3 eye screws will serve as the holders for 3 prongs of the garden rake.

  6. We're now ready to attach the spike aerator to the garden rake. Align 3 prongs of the garden rake with the 3 holders (eye screws) of the spike aerator as shown below.

  7. Engage the 3 prongs with the spike aerator's eye screws. It doesn't matter if the spike lawn aerator is shorter than the garden rake's head. Just ensure that the 3 prongs fit well into the spike lawn aerator's holders.

How to Use the Manual Garden Lawn Aerator

This garden lawn aerator uses your bodyweight to press the aerator spikes into the ground. You can use either foot in pressing down the lawn aerator spikes. You can have the garden rake's long handle in between your legs or at the side of one leg.

The photo below shows a correct form in using the garden lawn aerator.

  1. If you have very compacted soil, water the lawn adequately to soften the soil a bit.

  2. Keeping the lawn aerator vertical, press your foot on the garden rake. Put on more pressure on the lawn aerator by shifting your bodyweight as shown below.

    There's no need to completely sink the aerator spikes into the ground, especially if there are stones underneath.

  3. Remove the foot from the rake and pull the garden rake's handle up. You may need to rock the garden rake's handle just a little to slide aerator spikes out easily.

  4. Position the lawn aerator to the next location so that the spike holes are evenly spaced.

Shown below is the garden lawn after being aerated by the spike lawn aerator. You can see the tiny spike holes created by the aeration.

Practice safety when storing away this garden lawn aerator. The sharp pointed nails may cause injuries. For storage purposes, here's how you can make a protective cover for the homemade lawn aerator after you finish in the garden.

Go ahead, post your comment below!

corrine said...

Hi! My grass is what they call "frog grass". You think I should also aerate it? It grows horizontally. Nice idea you have here for aerator! Thanks for sharing.

Blackdove said...

Frog grass is better, in my opinion. It doesn't require as much cutting/maintenance and can grow quite densely.

If your grass has no problems growing (lack of water absorption due to compacted soil) then there's no need to aerate.