Turf Hound Aerator Review

I picked up a Hound Dog Products Turf Hound Aerator last year and now that I've used it a few times I wanted to give my review and some pointers.

The Turf Hound is a manual lawn aerator that is great for small yards or for getting into areas where a gas-powered aerator can't. It is a very affordable and environmentally friendly way to aerate your lawn. It is better than other manual aerators because it pulls plugs out of the lawn instead of poking holes. Just like a gas-powered core aerator would.

Gas-powered aerators are expensive. A few hundred for a tow behind unit if you already have a lawn tractor, or a few thousand for a dedicated unit. You can also hire someone to do it, but that usually runs $75-$100 and up depending on the size of your lawn and your location.

If you've read some marketing about liquid lawn aerator products, read my comments on whether liquid aeration works or not before spending any money.

Do you need to Aerate your Lawn?

Aerating your lawn helps loosen compacted soil and allows air and nutrients to get in deep into the soil. It helps your lawn roots grow deeper which will give you a lush, more drought resistant lawn.

You should pull up a section of your lawn and see how deep the roots grow. If they don't grow deep, it could be an sign that your lawn is too compacted. It could also mean that you are watering your lawn too often and not deep enough. The best way to water your lawn is deeply and infrequently.

Another indication is if you have moss growing on your lawn. Moss tends to grow on compacted soil, but it could also be a result of improper pH. The good news is that aerating your lawn is good and you can do it every year. With the Turf Hound being very affordable, you don't have to worry about the cost after you purchase it.

When should I aerate my lawn?

The best time to aerate your lawn is in the fall. Over the winter the soil will loosen and the holes will get filled in.

You can also aerate cool season grasses in the early spring before your lawn starts waking up from the winter. It's not ideal since the summer heat will stress the lawn and since more of the soil and roots are exposed because of the holes, it can dry them out.

Since you have a lot of soil exposed after aeration. It is also a good time to overseed. And since you'll also have some soil plugs lying around, it makes it easy to test your soil conditions such as pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels. The kit pictured to the right is an affordable way to do those tests. Soil testing will help you plan your fertilization needs. Just grab a bit of soil off the bottom of the plug. These aren't as reliable as a lab test from your local cooperative extension office but some people seem to have had success with them.

Initial Impressions

I think the Turf Hound aerator is a great tool to have. My large isn't huge and I'm able to do it all manually. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative to gas-powered aerators or anyone looking to save money this season. Lets face facts, with the economy how it is, it's best to try to save where you can.

It is incredibly easy to use and durable. I hit a few roots and rocks that I couldn't push into and there was no damage to the Turf Hound whatsoever.

Turf Hound aerating Tips

Wear work gloves when using the Turf Hound. If you're planning on aerating a substantial area it's a good idea to wear a pair of work gloves. In a 1,000 square foot area, with a goal of 18 holes per square foot, you will be pulling up on the Turf Hound 9,000 times. That's a lot of friction on your hands which can easily lead to blisters or other injuries.

The soil should be moist but not too wet. If it's too wet, the cores will get stuck in the holes. If you're using the aerator and you don't see the plugs being ejected out the top, your soil may be too moist. Let it dry out a bit. If you find it's too hard to aerate, your soil is likely too dry.

Check for clogs. Every once in a while, stop and check to make sure the plugs are coming out. If they're not, the holes in the aerator could have clogged up. I keep a 10" plastic dowel with me to push out any plugs that might get stuck. If you're working with good soil moisture content, this won't happen often. This is very important, because if the holes get clogged, you're not aerating, you're actually pushing the soil down and compacting it. The exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.

Try not to bend over while using the Turf Hound. I'm over 6' tall and I wish the turf hound could be just a little bit taller. If I use two hands on the Turf Hound I wind up having to bend over, which makes using it a little more difficult. If I keep one hand on it, just to steady it, and just let the weight I apply with my foot make the cores, it is a lot more comfortable.  Update: I have the old green Turf Hound. The new yellow colored Turf Hound appears to be bigger.

Be careful of rocks and roots. If one side of the aerator hits a rock, root or other obstruction that prevents it from going all the way into the soil, it will become uneven and if you're not paying attention, can cause you to lose your balance. What I found best was to keep both feet planted firmly on the ground until the Turf Hound dug in, then lift my other foot so my weight was on the Turf Hound to help drive it in further.

Clean and dry it after you are done. Just hosing it off should be sufficient. The Turf Hound is coated with a rust proof coating, but I found that it started to wear away after its first use. So I make sure I let it dry in the sun before I put it away.

How To Use a Turf Hound Aerator

The Turf Hound couldn't be simpler to use. Place your dominant foot on the bar between the two cores. Stabilize it with your had and you're pretty much just walking your way to a healthier lawn.

It doesn't take very long. I was able to do about 100 sq ft in about 10 minutes, using a tight hole pattern. It's not very difficult, but I did break a little sweat. It wasn't strenuous, but as I mentioned earlier, if you're tall, you want to try and keep from bending over. I'm going to try to figure out if I can attach something to it to extend the handle. I found that I only needed to use my hand to help stabilize it, so I was able to use one hand, which kept me from bending over.

Holes Per Square Foot

The Turf Hound doesn't come with much instructions and contacting Hound Dog didn't really clear things up. I did a lot of searching before using the Turf Hound to see what would be appropriate.

It varies based on your soil conditions, but somewhere between 9-20 holes per square foot seems to be a good number to shoot for. Typical gas powered lawn aerators do around 9 holes per square foot, and you would need to run it twice from different directions and you would get 18 holes per square foot.
The tines in the Turf Hound are about 6" apart. That's not very close spacing, so I found it best to overlap each pass, so the holes from the second pass wind up in between the holes from the first pass. You can see an example in the picture on the right.

To make things simple, I determined how many plugs per square foot are created based on overlapping the passes and the spacing between pairs of holes in each pass.

A hole every 6" on each overlapping pass will give you 8 holes per square foot.

A hole every 4" on each overlapping pass will give you 12 holes per square foot.

A hole every 3" on each overlapping pass will give you 16 holes per square foot.

The nice thing about using a manual tool is you can adjust as you go. If you feel an area needs more aeration, you can space your holes closer, if it needs less, space them further apart. As you go along, you'll feel differences in how easy it is to push into the ground, which will give you some indication of how compact the soil is.

When you're finished, just leave the plugs on the ground. They will break down after a little while.

Now's a good time to water your lawn deeply if you're not expecting a lot of rain. It's also good to overseed with a good quality grass seed. New seed will require light, infrequent watering to help it get established. It will also keep the roots from drying out now that they are exposed.

If you don't mind a little manual labor, and prefer to not pollute with a gas-powered aerator, the Turf Hound is a great bargain and you can do lawns up to a couple thousand square feet in a day.
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8 comments:

  1. Great review, I picked one up and I'm gonna give it a try soon.

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  2. Awesome review, exactly what I was looking for

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  3. I guess I'll have to keep trying during different moisture levels, I used it in FL once and every 5th or 6th push it would wind up getting clogged. I ended up spending more time trying to break up the clog with a screwdriver then I did aerating. Guess I'll try again once the soil's dryer.

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    Replies
    1. Same with me (Central Florida). Clogs all the time. Maybe it needs a 2 step action...one to pierce the soil, and another foot action to remove the 'pellet'?

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  4. I like mine, but only half of it: one prong (and its always the same one) gets clogged every second step. It 's obviously not the soil: the other prong works great and pushes out nice loose plugs every step. What should I do to make the plugging one work better?

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    Replies
    1. Check the inside of the tines for "something" in there. I had one of these and the weld was sticking out almost 1/4" inside. Use a file or a dremel with a grinding bit to remove it. The inside of the tine should be absolutely clear (as perfect of a circle as you can get). Once I cleaned mine up with a dremel + file, it stopped clogging.

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    2. Same problem with mine, but the weld was so hot that it deformed the tube. The core would _never_ be pushed out. Cheap Chinese welding. I wound up cutting off the faulty tube. Now it's a single-core aerator.

      You get what you pay for.

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