Are you looking for the best manual aerator rake? Today I will tell you which are the best performing models, and how to choose the perfect tool for you.
A manual ripper or rake has several advantages. For one thing, it has a low cost compared to other lawn aeration tools, and secondly, it’s pretty simple to use. In fact, it is sufficient to pass it on the grass like a simple rake, so as to be able to eradicate the weeds and brushwood, also dragging other residues such as foliage. If you have a small lawn or garden, you will most likely be delighted. The same cannot be said for medium to large lawns, but there are exceptions, which I will address later.
What is a manual aerator
The structure is very basic, given that we are dealing with a simple but at the same time very effective agricultural tool. Specifically, there is a rectangular head (usually with a width of around 30 centimeters) that mounts at its base a set of curved blades or knives. The latter are in most cases made of galvanized steel, and are very pointed, so you have to be careful when handling them.
The number of knives at the base can vary, depending on the model you buy, and the same goes for the material. Steel is absolutely the best choice, because unlike iron it does not oxidize and always remains sharp, so the rake lasts longer. As for the blades, we usually start from a minimum of 10 up to over 30 knives, in the higher-end models.
The head of this tool to aerate the lawn, in some cases, mounts two comfortable wheels on the sides. Their purpose is to give you the possibility to drag your rake more easily, in order to improve the sliding of the blades on the ground. By doing this, you will lightly etch the surface of the soil, while at the same time catching the foliage, moss, matted grass and any other debris that prevent the soil from breathing. So you will aerate and scarify the lawn in one go.
Also consider that in manual rake aerators, the head with the blades is connected to the stick via a metal support with two brackets. These brackets have a movable section, which allows the head to play a certain amount of play, when you drag it towards you while weeding the lawn (oscillating mechanism). All you have to do is lower the stick a little, and drag the tool towards you: the aerator will take care of the rest.
And the handle? Sometimes it is included, other times you will have to buy it separately. Don’t worry, because the tool attachment often allows you to insert any agrarian wood stick, or broom handles.
Types of manual scarifier
Even if the manual aerator is a rather basic tool, I would like to remind you that there are various types, and it is good to deepen them, because they work a little differently.
1. Scarifier rake
It is the most classic type of all, that is, the one I described above. It has a base of a certain width, with a number of very pointed knives. The stick can be found in the package or purchased separately, depending on the model and your choices. The holder mechanism allows the head to swing when you drag it, thus improving the overall performance of the aerator.
2. Scarifier with wheels
This model is completely identical to the previous one, with one small difference: the presence of the two side wheels. As I have already told you, the two wheels allow the manual scarifier to slide more easily on the ground, thus making life easier even for those who find themselves having to drag it. If you have a medium-sized lawn, opt for wheels, so you will have less effort.
3. Roller scarifier
The aerator roller is a very different tool from the others, since in this case there are no knives but real nails. In appearance it resembles a manual weeder, only it does not have a horizontal blade for cutting weeds. This tool is not able to remove the felt from the lawn, as it is not a rake. It is a “simple” spiked roller, with a series of spikes that penetrate deeply into the soil, aerating it.
Best manual aerators
1. GARDENA Aerator CombiSystem 2 Blade System
I start immediately with one of the manual aerators that impressed me the most. It is a rake without wheels, therefore very classic, but equipped with a head with two rows of opposing blades. The front row, with narrower teeth, is perfect for aerating the lawn and for removing weeds and small debris. The second, with rounded and larger blades, is instead excellent for dragging larger debris, such as foliage and stones.
- Rake with 2 rows of blades
- Teeth in galvanized steel
- There is no handle supplied
- Working width: 35.5cm
It is a do-it-all tool that you can use both for aeration and for removing large debris and other elements such as moss, leaves and matted grass. The package does not include the handle, which must be purchased separately, and the head has a coupling mechanism compatible only with the sticks of the CombiSystem line. The materials are really excellent, with galvanized steel teeth coated in Duroplast, for an almost eternal resistance.
Then consider that Gardena also sells the single-row version and the one with wheels. While I’m there, I’ll leave you the link of the sticks page.
The working width is almost record-breaking (35 centimeters), and the double row of curved blades gives a nice touch of versatility to this tool for aerating the lawn. It is very easy to use, and the assembly of the handle is quick and simple, as long as it is compatible, therefore of the CombiSystem line. It is a disadvantage but also an advantage: in fact, you can choose the ideal size for you, by purchasing a pole of 150 cm, 180 cm or with adjustable length (telescopic model).
- 2-row system of teeth
- Exceptional materials
- Anti-corrosion coating
- Wide working width
- The stick must be purchased separately
2. Wolf-Garten 3549000 UG-M 3 Oscillating Scarifier
This manual scarifier has an excellent oscillating system and an extraordinary working width of around 40 centimeters. It has only one row of blades, it does not have wheels and the stick must be purchased separately, because it is not included in the package. The blades are made of solid hardened steel, particularly sharp, so I advise you to be careful when using it.
- Model with 1 row of blades
- Working width: 40cm
- Hardened steel knives
- The stick must be purchased separately
The performance of this rake is excellent, because it can easily remove the felt from the garden and the moss, along with the weeds that grow on the surface. It has an amazing working width (40 centimeters) and an oscillating blade system of the highest level. Unfortunately it can only be used with compatible walking sticks made by Wolf-Garten, so it’s a second expense that you will have to take into account.
The special handle is very easy to assemble, thanks to a one-click interlocking mechanism, while the solidity of the tool protects you from any fear. This product lasts a lifetime, due to the presence of hardened steel, the best option you will find on sale. In conclusion, this is a very suitable solution if you care about the quality of the final result, and if you have a small green space of about 40 square meters. Nothing, however, prevents you from using it even on wider lawns.
- Hardened steel materials
- Very wide working width
- Excellent performance
- Simplified stick attachment system
- You will also need to purchase the cane (not included)
3. Wolf-Garten 71AAA036650 Scarifier With Wheels
We stay at the home of Wolf-Garten, a German company that has several models of manual aerators in its catalog. In this case I would like to present you a product with wheels, and with a working width of about 30 centimeters. Once again, the package does not include the cane, which you will need to purchase separately, as this tool can only be used with compatible handles.
- Model with wheels
- Hardened steel blades
- Working width: 30 cm
- Stick not included in the package
The merits and the defects are the same as the previous model: you will have to face a second expense to buy the compatible Wolf-Garten stick (if you don’t already have it), but you can count on a superior quality and very effective tool. The strong point, in addition to the wheels that lighten the workload, is, as always, the resistance of the hardened steel blades, with oscillating system. The wheels also facilitate sliding on the ground and this is important in order not to strain your back too much.
Of course, the advice is to use it to ventilate and scarify small gardens and lawns with a small size, around 40-50 square meters. However, it is all a matter of strength: if you are capable, you can even air a garden of about 250 square meters by hand, but know that it will take time and effort. Let’s say you can take it as an excuse to exercise, and that at the end of the job you will get a rewarding result, killing two birds with one stone.
- The wheels facilitate sliding
- The steel blades are of excellent workmanship
- Fair working width
- Stick to be purchased separately
4. Xclou Rake with 32 teeth in Steel and Conical Stems
If you want to go on a budget, but without sacrificing too much quality, I recommend this low-cost aerator rake. It does not include the stick but, unlike the models seen previously, in this case you can solve it using a common wooden broom handle. It is also a rake with 2 rows of knives, therefore perfect both for aeration and for the removal of brushwood and even stones.
- Model with 2 rows of teeth
- 32 Galvanized steel blades
- Does not include the stick
- Compatible with handles up to 3 cm in diameter
- Working width: approx.35 cm
The double row of blades proves to be very effective for aerating and scarifying lawns and gardens, in spite of a more than competitive cost. The stick is not included in the package, but you can mount a normal wooden handle, as long as the diameter does not exceed 3 centimeters. There are 32 galvanized steel knives in total, 11 on one side and 21 on the other, and are great for a question of versatility.
Of course it is not a perfect manual scarifier, considering its cheapness. Specifically, it does not mount an oscillating system and therefore the blades do not play when they are dragged on the ground. This inevitably pushes the user to work harder, obtaining lower performance than the top range models. Finally, I advise you to check the fastening of the side bolts, which occasionally tend to loosen.
- Economic tool
- Double row of knives
- Good quality steel
- Fair working width
- Usable with wooden sticks
- The oscillating system of the blades is missing
- Side bolts tend to loosen
How to choose the manual aerator
1. Working width
This value corresponds to the width of the head that mounts the blades, and it is important, because it affects the amount of soil you can aerate with a single pass. Generally the working width is around 30 cm, but it can also exceed 35 cm. It is clear that a higher value slightly speeds up the aeration and scarifying times.
2. Materials and number of blades
I recommend that you prefer a manual scarifier with hardened steel blades, as they stay sharp and last a lifetime. Galvanized iron knives are an economical solution, which I do not recommend anyway, due to a lower resistance. The number of blades matters, because multiple knives allow you to make multiple cuts with a single pass of the tool to aerate the lawn.
3. Single or double row of blades?
Usually the head of an aerator rake houses only one row of blades, but in some models there is a double row of knives. In this case, one side is fitted with denser blades, which are used above all to engrave the ground and to drag small debris. The second side, on the other hand, houses larger and rounder knives, which are able to scarify the soil by also collecting medium-sized debris, such as stones.
4. Attachment of the handle
Be very careful, as a manual ripper may not be compatible with all types of sticks. Some products, in fact, require the purchase or use of a proprietary handle, perhaps with a one-click mechanism, while others can be used with any wooden agricultural stick.
5. Type of structure
The wheelless rake structure is ideal for small lawns or gardens, while the wheeled one is ideal for slightly larger gardens. Consider, in fact, that being a manual tool you will have to pass it on the ground in its entirety. Sure, a wider working width can make your life easier, as can the wheels, but it is not a suitable tool for too large surfaces, because you will get tired.
Advantages of manual aerators
In this guide I have explained to you what the manual aerator is and how it works, also presenting you with reviews of the best on the market. And by now you should have already figured out when to use it and when, instead, to prefer other tools like electric aerators. In summary, this tool for aerating the lawn is not very suitable for removing the felt from large surfaces, but only for a matter of effort.
If you have the strength to use it on large lawns, go for it, because in reality you will only have advantages. The manual scarifier, in fact, allows you to carry out precision work that would otherwise be very difficult with other tools. Secondly, it is a necessary solution if there is no power outlet for electric models near the garden. In that case you could still use petrol aerators, but these have a much higher cost.
It goes without saying that for really large plots, a scarifier rake is almost impossible to use, due to a matter of timing and effort. Not surprisingly, growers use a different manual tool, the trailed aerator, which can be used thanks to a ride on mower.
An outsider: the ventilating shoes
Even if they are not really… manual, shoe aerators can become a particular solution for aerating lawns and gardens.
It is a sort of shoe that must be worn directly on your work boots, and which mounts at the base a series of pegs or nails (more than 20, usually). How do they work? Well, there is not much to leave to the imagination: the pegs break the ground and penetrate deep into the ground, every time you move a step.