I am thinking of buying a lawn aerator for the season to help soften up my dense lawn. Anybody have ideas on some good brands or models of aerators? I have a relatively small area, so I don't need anything too big.
Looking for one to pull behind a tractor or a motorized walk-behind?
I've had an MTD spike type one for a number of years for my less then 1/3 acre. It's ok but if I were to get another one I would get one that actually removes small plugs of soil. The small holes punched by the spikes on mine close back up pretty quick.
Wish I could be of more help. Only experience I've had with an aerator was with a self propelled plug type machine that I rented. I know it did a great job, so I'd have to agree with Mark, if I were to get one for myself it would be the plug type. Maybe something like these.
From what it sounds like a walk-behind should work for you. Prices can range pretty wide depending on whether you're looking for an automatic or manual one. This site has a few to give you an idea of the price range.
For your sake, I would probably guess a small manual aerator would get the job done, and would save you plenty of money. Another option would be to look for a used one. You may be able to come across some decent ones and save some money that way as well.
I thought everyone wore their golf spikes while mowing to aerate.
I would be inclined to rent an aerator rather than buy one unless you are going to offer to do other yards for a fee to recoop your purchase price. This is not something that need to be done on a regular basis. Bill