In this guide we’ll take a look at the best compost aerators for the UK market.
I’ve compared construction, ease of use, performance and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What is the Best Compost Aerator?
In a rush? Here’s my top choice…
A strong tool with a simple design that won’t let you down!
This Dolmen Compost Mixer and Aerator is both simple and extremely effective. With an easy-to-use design and long handle it will easily aerate compost. Made from strong, galvanized steel it provides good leverage and noticeable results.
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Compost Aerator Reviews
Dolmen Compost Mixer and Aerator Review
This Dolmen Compost Mixer and Aerator is a corkscrew aerator with a handle like a brace drill. You simply insert the tip a few inches into the compost and then turn the handle to screw it down into the deeper levels.
This is a nice long compost aerator that easily gets to the bottom of standard compost bins. Once you have reached the bottom, you simply pull out the tool and shake. It’s well designed and makes aerating compost in easy – it’s especially useful in tall plastic bins where using a fork can be almost impossible.
This is one of the simplest and most effective compost aerators I have ever used, and it is much better and easier than using a garden fork. Initially, it was quite difficult to pull the aerator up, because the bin had become compacted (I hadn’t been able to aerate it well!).
However, after I’d done it a few times, and the compost started to loosen, this process got much easier. If used regularly this would become an even easier process and only take a few minutes to mix and aerate the whole compost bin.
The compost aerator is made of galvanized steel and the design makes it easy to use giving plenty of leverage and reducing the strain on back and shoulder muscles. The handle does not have any padding, so I would recommend wearing gloves when using this tool to prevent blisters!
A week after using this compost aerator I went back to my bin and was impressed with the results. The material looked darker and softer and there was some heat within the bin, so I was very pleased.
This is a sturdy, effective and easy-to-use compost aerator that will really make a difference to your compost. It’s sure to speed-up the composting process and help you achieve better results.
Due to its simplicity yet effectiveness I’d say it’s the best compost aerator around.
Burgon & Ball Flexi Compost Aerator Review
This Burgon & Ball Flexi Compost Aerator has an attractive deign with a sturdy corkscrew spike and an FSC approved wooden handle.
Again, this compost aerator is a simple to use, easy and effective tool. The style of the handle means that it is slightly easier to use than the previous aerator on very compacted compost as you can push down as you twist. However, once the compost is loosened a little I found the previous one easier to use and less tiring on the arms.
This tool is also perfect for all types of compost bins including plastic ‘dalek’ shaped ones.
For the easiest results with this compost aerator, I found that working on the upper layers first and then working down to lower layers was the best approach.
This tool did a great job and the wooden handle is comfortable to use. It’s another great choice if you are looking for the best compost aerator available.
Primrose Compost Aerator Review
This Primrose Compost Aerator has two horizontal blades at the end. They are closed as you push the tool into the compost, and then open as you pull it back out. A clever design that also cuts through the tougher, more fibrous parts of the compost and allows you to mix everything up.
The compost aerator tool is zinc-plated steel making it sturdy and easy to clean. It also has a nice ergonomic grip that means it is comfortable to use. You do have to be a little bit careful when using it that you are not too heavy handed as this tool has some attached parts and could, therefore, break more easily than the previous products.
It’s a very good value tool which would be ideal if you had a lot of tough fibrous material in your compost bin as it cuts through the fibres helping everything break down. I would say it’s one of the best compost aerators to choose on a budget!
Things to Know Before Buying a Compost Aerator
A compost aerator is an invaluable purchase for gardeners who are keen to get the most out of their compost bins!
These tools allow oxygen to permeate your compost heap. This helps your compost to break down faster and prevents it from simply rotting. A compost aerator is a cost-effective way to totally transform the way you compost. What’s more, they’re low maintenance tools that are easy to use and simple to store.
So, now you just need to find the best compost aerator for your garden! There are a range of aerating tools on the market, so you’ll want to work out which best suits your needs. To help you make an informed choice, take a look at the following advice:
It’s an easy mistake to make, to think that compost will sit and happily decompose until it’s time to spread it around the garden. Unfortunately, leaving your compost entirely to its own devices could well result in the material simply rotting.
Rotting and composting are distinctly different. An easy way to tell if your compost is, in fact, rotting will be by the smell. Compost that is well looked after and aerated won’t have such a pungent stench.
Aerating compost has several benefits (not only minimising odour). It will help the organisms which are breaking down the compost to ‘breath’, allowing them to keep working efficiently. As a result, the composting process will also happen quicker.
Compost which is turned more frequently (around every three days) maintains a higher heat than compost which is not turned, speeding up composting.
The process of aeration also helps minimise the presence of excess water in the compost which can encourage rotting. That said, it also works to spread around moisture to stop the compost from drying out!
For a long lifespan, quality construction is key. You certainly don’t want your aerator bending (or worse, snapping!) whilst you’re using it.
The best compost aerators are going to be made from either coated/plated steel, or galvanised steel for strength and rust resistance.
There are models which are made from aluminium or even plastic. These are not necessarily bad, per say, but they are unlikely to last as well as steel options.
Steel is around 2.5 x denser than aluminium making it more durable, but heavier. On the other hand, plastic aerators will be light but not very strong. They are much more likely to break, especially if they go brittle after a few years.
Aerators need to be able to shift quite a lot of weight, and you may use them to try to ‘lever’ compost from the bottom of the heap, so it is important that they are strong.
No matter what material you choose, you should store your aerator in a cool, dry place to keep it in good condition.
There are two main types of aerator to choose from: corkscrew and plunger.
For either type you don’t really want to be using a compost bin that is too tool. It’s ideal if you can position yourself over the top of the compost bin in order to really get good purchase on the aerator.
Corkscrew aerators are twisted into the compost then pulled out. This creates air and spreads moisture evenly, the compost that was at the bottom ends up on top. Corkscrew aerators are often best suited to lighter compost because they can be hard work. Not only do you have to screw into the compost, you then have to pull the aerator out with a lot of heavy material. If the compost is too dense, this can be extremely difficult.
Plunger aerators are suitable for heavier compost. These have 2 folding tines or blades, which are streamlined as the aerator enters the soil and then open up when it’s pulled out. This creates larger air pockets. You may find plunger aerators easier to use in heavier compost because you only need to push a thin pole into the compost initially. Pulling them out is where you need to be a bit more careful – be mindful of your back as this can be heavy work!
So, let’s say you’re all ready and waiting with your new compost aerator. Should you be running out to turn your compost everyday, every few days? Once a year? What’s the deal?
Studies have shown that aerating compost approximately every three days is optimum. This keeps the temperature in the compost heap much higher than when aerating it every 10 or 20 days.
It has been demonstrated that aerating every three days makes it possible for the compost to maintain a heat of around 65 – 71°C for approximately 20 days. Aerating every 10 days saw temperatures eventually rise (much slower) to 60°C, and aerating every 20 days saw temperature barely exceed 50°C.
Hotter conditions inside the heap will be better for composting.
Aerating your compost can be hard work, but a few design features can make the task a whole lot easier.
Padded and ergonomic handles are easiest to grip, ensuring you can work with reduced fatigue.
Wooden handles are quite pleasant to use and protect hands from the cold and slippery metal. In general it’s always advisable to use these tools with gloves, just to avoid any friction blisters.
Compost Aerator FAQs
Regular aerating your compost allows oxygen into the heap. Oxygen allows the microbes that break down plant material to thrive. Mixing your heap also allows moisture to be distributed so the heap does get too damp, or dry out. Regular mixing will increase the heat of your compost, speeding up the process of decomposition. In addition, aerating your compost reduces nasty odours by preventing the heap from becoming a slimy, airless mixture. Aerating can speed up the composting process so you have compost that is ready to use in as little as 8 weeks.
Compost aerators make the job of turning compost much easier than using a fork and also do a more effective job. The tool needs to be inserted into the heap and then pulled out. This process is then repeated until all the compost is mixed. If your compost heap is quite compacted you may want to start working on the upper layers first, gradually moving down to the deeper layers.
Bear in mind that even with a compost aerator this is a physically testing job so don’t try to do too much at once.
If you are not physically strong enough for this task, you may want to consider purchasing a tumbling compost bin as this can easily be turned whenever required.
For a hot and active compost, you should aerate it approximately every 3 days. While there’s no hard and fast rule, aerating too often can slow down the process. Allow the compost to heat and cool before aerating.