I tested five products and found the SUBPOD Compost Aerator the best aerator for everyday use.
Keeping a healthy compost pile can be hard work. Millions of living organisms contribute to a compost bin. The bacteria and other microscopic organisms make the magic of composting possible! All these critters need oxygen, water, and food to survive, resulting in finished compost.
Aerating a compost pile is the first step of a good maintenance routine. For most people, the SUBPOD Compost Aerator will likely offer the best value for a compost aeration tool. It is an easy-to-use aeration tool that makes getting fresh air into a pile easy.
For some specific use cases, there are better options. There are good aerator choices for budget buyers, large compost heaps, and small piles.
Keep reading to find out more about the best compost aeration tool.
5 Best Compact Aerators Review
The SUBPOD aerator offers an excellent balance between cost and usability. It is a corkscrew design that allows for gentle and efficient agitation and air flow of compost. It features a comfortable, ergonomically designed handle.
The handle and agitating rod are durable. The polypropylene handle is strong and comfortable. The agitating rod is made from food-grade stainless steel, meaning no rust!
The SUBPOD aerator is just shy of three feet long. It is long enough to agitate large piles of compost material while remaining agile enough for small ones. Better yet, the aerator disassembles for easy storage. The manufacturer includes spare parts in case something bends or breaks.
The SUBPOD is a manual tool. Its large agitating end moves the compost gently. You won’t disturb worms or other critters. You can be confident that the compost has new air pockets without worrying about the contents.
Overall, there are very few situations the SUBPOD can’t handle, which makes it my number one pick. It is sturdy, comfortable, and easy to use. You can also expect a long life thanks to the durable construction.
The LoTech compost aerator features a hooked handle attached to a corkscrew endpiece. It has an impressive 29-inch effective length, making it ideal for digging in large piles. The LoTech’s stainless-steel construction guarantees it will remain free of rust.
The LoTech’s handle features a comfortable non-slip grip. It’s easy to get enough leverage to achieve optimal aeration. It is tough enough to handle heavy aeration. The LoTech is also gentle enough to avoid harming worms or other helpful composters.
The aerator’s corkscrew section is smaller than I would like. However, the long shaft and shorter screw make it easier to get the middle of a pile aerated. The shorter screw section also makes this aerator very easy to unclog.
The LoTech Crank Twist aerator is a great option. Those with smaller compost heaps or light compost might enjoy a larger screw area. For those who have massive piles to shift, the design of the LoTech aerator is ideal.
The FORK aerator features a plunger design. Two folded wings attach to the end of the aerator. These wings get folded back when you push the aerator into the organic waste. When pulling back on the aerator, the wings unfold to stir up the largest amount of organic material.
The FORK’s durability isn’t as high as some aerators on this list. Because of this, it is best for small piles. The FORK is great for compost bins and buckets. It has an ergonomic, 90-degree grip that gives enough leverage to twist and aerate a small pile of organic matter.
With large heaps, the FORK can become stuck. Large piles can make it tough to use with very heavy compost. It’s lovely for smaller piles, though. It is quicker and easier to use than comparable corkscrew aerators.
The FORK also features rust-free construction. Overall, this is a handy, easy-to-use aerator. As long as you use it within its limits, you can expect years of service to nourish your garden.
The Yard Butler is similar to the amazing Bosmere Compost Aerator. It has two folded wings at the end of a shaft which expands when pulled out of a compost pile. The Yard Butler is designed for tough compost agitation.
The Yard Butler’s all-steel construction and grippy handle make it ideal for heavy compost. It is easy to grab the handle and twist to agitate the compost. The Yard Butler is a little rougher to the compost than some corkscrew-type aerators.
A skilled operator will have no problem using this aerator on food scraps with high moisture content. It features the rapid agitation common with plunger styles. This style of aerator is one of the best ways to put force into a compost pile to promote aerobic decomposition. The aerator is over three feet long, offering plenty of reach and leverage.
The Yard Butler was one of the best plunger-type aerators I’ve tested. I tend to prefer the corkscrew design, and the Yard Butler was a close competitor. For those who need to rapidly turn compost or have many piles to aerate, the Yard Butler is an excellent choice.
The Redmon compost aerator tool is excellent for those with low aeration needs. The rust-free construction is lightweight, trading durability for ease of use. It is just under three feet long and has a 90-degree handle with an ergonomic grip.
The Redmon is a plunger design featuring two wings on the bottom, which expand to agitate compost. This aerator’s affordability is what makes it unique. It is perfect for those without large, heavy piles of compost.
Even though it is affordable, the Redmon aerator is built to last. It features galvanized steel making it lightweight. The Redmon doesn’t have the rigidity of other aerators. While it can’t handle large piles, it is easy to carry and store.
If you are considering using compost aerators during your composting process, there are some things you should consider.
What is a Compost Aerator?
Compost aerators are essential tools for compost pile maintenance. The purpose of an aerator is to provide fresh oxygen to the creatures in the compost. These creatures include bugs, worms, and microbes.
Fresh oxygen is essential. When microorganisms run out of air, they switch to other methods of producing energy. These oxygen-free methods produce harmful chemicals that can damage a compost pile.
It’s not enough to set up a pile and forget about it. Anyone who has neglected a compost pile can describe how fast it can become nasty. You must treat a compost heap as a living, breathing thing that needs care to survive.
This is where a compost aerator comes in. Its job is to turn the compost and breathe new air into the heap. Maintaining a compost pile requires balancing temperature, moisture, and air content. Air is the quickest resource used. For the best composting, it is necessary to bring new air into the pile frequently.
Moisture levels tend to change slowly in compost. In contrast, oxygen levels can change at a rapid pace. Keeping a regular aeration schedule is the best way to keep oxygen levels stable. Experts recommend aerating every three to seven days.
You should turn a compost pile often. Investing in an aerator improves compost quality. Aerators are simple, practical tools that are essential for good compost maintenance.
What Types of Compost Aerators Are There?
There are two main types of aerators: plunger and corkscrew. Each style has its pros and cons. There is also “static pile composting,” a method of composting without turning the pile. This method uses pvc pipe to aerate the compost and is often seen in industrial compost heaps.
The average home gardener generally opts to turn their piles for aeration. You can set up a static pile, but most home compost heaps are easier to maintain through turning. In that case, plunger or corkscrew aerators are the way to go.
Plunger aerators “plunge” into the compost pile and agitate from within. Think of them like harpoons. Most plunger aerators are long, narrow shafts with wings or tines that expand in the pile. The wings are folded when you insert the aerator and unfold when you pull it out. When the wings spread, they grab compost and turn it.
Plunger aerators are a little rougher on the compost compared to corkscrew. Plunger-types are very effective at turning compost quickly. They are generally best suited for small-to-medium piles.
Corkscrew aerators tend to be gentler than plunger types while needing less force to operate. The corkscrew design features a spiral end attached to a long metal shaft and handle. You rotate the tool and insert it into the compost. Compost binds in the corkscrew end after you insert it. You can then move and agitate the compost.
Corkscrew aerators have the advantage of being gentle with the compost. Gentleness ensures that worms and other critters are safe. These small animals and microbes are essential for healthy soil. It is worth aerating gently for their sake.
The downside to corkscrew aerators is their speed. You can’t go quick with this type of aerator, and it tends to take more time to get through a pile. The size of your compost pile will help you determine what kind of aerator tool you need. Larger piles tend to work best with long corkscrew designs. Smaller, less-developed piles are great for the quick turning of a plunger design.
What Makes for A Reliable Compost Aerator?
The best aerators are durable, long-lasting, and easy to use. This doesn’t mean you need to select the toughest model of aerator. Reliability can differ based on your needs. If you have a small pile, you can generally choose a cheaper, lighter aerator. Larger piles will need more rugged equipment.
More expensive aerators generally have more robust construction, but the price isn’t the only factor. Finding a reliable tool takes more than just purchasing the most expensive one. Be sure to examine your specific use cases to understand what you need out of your tool.
Every aerator, regardless of how you will use it, should feature the following:
- Rust-free materials
- Comfortable grip
- A long shaft for leverage
A good aerator doesn’t need the toughest construction possible, but it should stand up to punishment. Even small piles need some force to turn. A well-built aerator will last through hundreds of turns.
Do compost aerators work?
Yes, aeration is essential for healthy compost. You don’t necessarily need a tool for aeration. You can do the same thing with a shovel. Turning a pile without an aerator can be a time-consuming process. You may also not see consistent results.
Compost aerators aim to agitate as much material as possible. Unlike the flat blade of a shovel, aerators redistribute much more material. Compost aerators aren’t technically necessary, but they are helpful.
A dedicated tool for turning compost is nothing new. Humans have used compost aerators for hundreds of years in one form or another. Their history speaks to their usefulness. It is worth having a tool that can help you get the most out of your compost production.
How do I aerate my compost?
Turning compost is simple. Home gardeners generally have a pile that is ideal for hand-turning. To aerate, use an aerator tool to maneuver the compost. The goal is to turn the compost pile inside-out and upside-down. You want to make sure that every inch of soil gets some new air.
You will need to insert and remove the aerator to jostle the compost. Speed is the benefit of a high-quality aerator: you can move a lot of compost fast. Insert the tool from all angles until you have completely turned the compost.
It does take some skill to aerate well. Roots or vines can sometimes grow in the compost. Tough growth requires more forceful turning. It is beneficial to be gentle to avoid harming worms or other composters.
Finding a balance between harsh and gentle comes with practice. Over time you will get to know your compost pile. The smell, temperature, and color of a compost heap can help you fine-tune your aeration.
How often should I aerate my compost?
As a rule of thumb, you should turn your compost every three to seven days. This can change based on moisture, temperature, and the size of the pile. As compost matures, you may need to turn more or less often.
If you are not turning your pile enough, some nasty things can happen. At best, decomposition will slow down. Pest infestations are another alarming possibility. If the composting microbes aren’t getting enough air, they produce harmful chemicals. These chemicals smell awful and can harm your compost.
It is best to start aerating more often than you would expect. Start by turning your compost every few days and reduce how often you turn over time. You can turn the compost less until reaching a balance.
You may need to turn your pile more often if you are composting in a very moist area. Compost piles with excess moisture need extra turnings to help regulate water content.
Overall, maintaining a compost pile comes down to learning your compost pile. Compost is very much alive. Compost piles each have their quirks based on their composting material. The location also plays a role. Piles with a large amount of sunlight may not need turning as often as those in rainier areas. The only way to be sure is to practice and experiment.
How do you make a compost aerator?
Making a compost aerator is simple. All you need is a long handle attached to something that can churn compost. There are many spiral-shaped gardening tools that you can turn into a compost aerator.
The challenge of making your own aerator comes down to reliability. Professionally made tools are durable. It’s not easy to recreate that build quality at home. Commercial compost turners must stand up to abuse.
You can also try a neat trick to make your own aerator by repurposing a tree branch. Find a section of branch about 2 inches in diameter. It needs to have thick branches of its own on the end furthest from the trunk.
Remove all branches except for a few towards the end. The branches should be pointing down toward the bottom of the main branch. Sharpen the end of the main 2-inch branch with a knife. Push the sharpened end into the compost pile, and the branches on the end will aerate the soil.
The average composter needs a balance of affordability and reliability. Overall, my choice is the SUBPOD Compost Aerator. The SUBPOD is a corkscrew aerator. It is well-built, can handle small, and large piles. It doesn’t take much effort to get an effective turn.
There are tons of choices for reliable, high-quality aerators. Depending on your needs, you can use the resources in this article to pick the best aerator. Be sure to look at the recommendations above for help finding the best aerator for your compost pile.