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Compost Aerator: The Ultimate Guide

The composting process requires a constant replenishing supply of oxygen, moisture, and cultures in order to fully breakdown the organic matter. That’s where a compost aerator comes in; this corkscrew-like tool is used to drill holes into the compost pile through which the carbon dioxide released by the culture can escape, and oxygen can freely circulate deeper into the compost.  This guide seeks to shed light on what a compost aerator is, how it works, and also what to look for when buying as well as a few buying options.

What Is A Compost Aerator?

A compost aerator is a specially designed tool that's shaped like a corkscrew with a long shaft allowing you to drill deep holes into the compost heap to increase the aeration rate. Compost aerators are often equipped with padded handles to make the operation much smoother. 

Compost aerators can be bought either readily assembled, those that require minor assembly, or you can opt for a DIY homemade version that's much affordable compared to purchasing a brand new one. Further reading material: link.

Why Use A Compost Aerator?

1. Increase Aeration

Compost aerators are used to aerate and turn the contents of bins and compost piles in order to increase the circulation of oxygen into the organic matter. This increases the microbial activity and breaks down the organic matter, releasing more nutrients into the compost while also considerably cutting down on time needed to compost the organic matter fully.

2. Increase The Composting Process

The compost turning process achieved using a compost aerator introduces additional organic matter to the interior of the compost pile, where it gets broken down by the bacteria and fungi cultures. This leads to uniform decomposition across all layers of the compost pile.

3. Reheat The Compost Pile

Using a compost aerator will lead to increased microbial activity, which increases the heat production. This eliminates any harmful pathogens that may have been introduced via the additional organic matter. The increased heat production also drives away rodents and pests that might try to invade the compost pile.

4. Create Passageways For The Moisture

The process of turning the compost with a compost aerator creates new pathways for water and air to penetrate into the compost pile. This keeps the cultures well-fed, which in turn increases the rate at which the organic matter is broken down into readily available nutrients for your plants.

5. Reduce Odors

The increased aeration in the compost as a result of turning with a compost aerator allows gases trapped in the compost to escape while also introducing oxygen, which hastens the process of decomposition, thus reducing the amount of bad odors emanating from the compost pile. Fully mature compost should develop a deep earthy, and fresh smell. Further reading material: link.

Do I Have To Use A Compost Aerator?

It’s recommended to use a compost aerator when turning compost piles as it cuts down on the time and labor required to get the job done. A compost aerator also provides a more uniform job for maximum compost production. 

Considerations Before Buying A Compost Aerator

1. Price

Compost aerators vary in specifications, which results in price differences. While premium-priced aerators can, at times, offer additional functionality or ease of use- it doesn't always mean that's the case. Often competitively priced compost aerators will offer standard functionality and guaranteed longevity, making them a better choice. It's recommended to come up with a budget before shopping around for a compost aerator and go for manufacturers with after-sale services such as product warranty.

2. Length 

The length of the compost aerator’s drill shaft will determine how deep it can penetrate into the compost pile for increased aeration and compost turning capabilities. It's recommended to get a stainless steel-made compost turner that can withstand extra pressure while turning the long drill shaft while also preventing corrosion.

3. Handles

When shopping for a compost aerator, it's recommended to get one with sturdy handles to withstand long term use. The handles should preferably be padded as well to prevent exerting too much pressure on your hands, which could lead to blistering. Having a bi-directional set of grips ensures that both left-handed and right-handed users can utilize the equipment without straining.

4. Durability

The durability of a compost aerator depends on the quality of materials used to make it. Stainless steel made compost aerators are the most durable as they are corrosion resistant. The handles should be equipped with high-quality padding, which can withstand prolonged use while still being easy on your palms. Further reading material: link.

Types Of Compost Aerator

1. Drill Bit Garden Auger Compost Aerator

Where to buy:


Drill bits are designed to be used with all types of electric drills found in the garden shed. To ensure that they last long, these drills are made of stainless steel and have a heavy-duty, top black finish which prevents corrosion.  The drill bit is attached to a 16.7 inches long stainless steel shaft, which is long enough to drive the drill into the center of the compost pile. 


  • High-quality stainless steel build that is long-lasting and corrosion-proof.
  • Can work with any electric drill to make the work easier.


  • You will need to own an electric drill to utilize this compost aerator.

2. Yard Butler Twist Compost Aerator

Where to buy:


Yard butler’s twist compost aerator features an ergonomic design, which increases its ease of use. The tool is equipped with a 38-inch long handle, which not only makes it much easier to reach the center of the compost pile. To prevent corrosion, the shaft is powder-coated. The compost aerator is also equipped with a handle that's wide enough to reduce the effort of rotating and twisting.


  • It has a long and ergonomic handle, which eases the effort of turning the compost.
  • The compost aerator is powder-coated to prevent corrosion.


  • Some customers complained about the handles not being positioned ergonomically.
3. Craftsman Tow Spike Compost Aerator

    Where to buy:


    When shopping for a heavy-duty compost aerator for commercial use, then Craftsman tow spike compost aerator is the product for you. The large 36-inch working width is more than enough to cover medium-sized compost piles. This compost aerator is built on a ten gauge heavy-duty stainless steel, which is exceptionally durable.  The turning power comes from 9 star-shaped spikes that dig deep into the compost turning it thoroughly. 


    • Wide working width for fast compost turning.
    • It is built on ten gauge stainless steel, which is long-lasting.


    • The assembly process is quite extensive and can confuse first-time users.
    4. Giading Twist Compost Aerator

      Where to buy:


      The Giading twist compost aerator features an adjustable handle that ranges in length from 34 to 40 inches long. This ease the effort needed to turn sizable compost piles and mix in all the layers. The compost aerator is equipped with four arrow tips, which are curved to increase their turning capabilities. The handle is also S-shaped to improve ergonomics while also enhancing the rotating angle for safe use without having to strain your arms. 


      • Long handle that's also adjustable to fit the required height.
      • Sharp tips that penetrate deep into the compost with ease.


      • The tines are relatively sharp, which can be risky to work with.
      5. Yard Butler Spiked compost Aerator

        Where to buy:


        The yard butler spiked compost aerator two pairs of three-inch-long spikes which dig into the compost and mix it in thoroughly while also aerating its interior. This compost aerator is also designed with a lower handle, which you can step on to drive it further down into the compost when needed. The compost aerator is also made of stainless steel to withstand rusting. 


        • It is equipped with four individual spikes for increased compost-turning surface area.
        • Made from stainless steel that's longstanding and withstand corrosion. 


        • Some customers complained about clogging when dealing with compost that contains unshredded organic matter. 

        DIY Compost Aerator

        Equipment Required

        • Hatchet 
        • Sapling


        1. Use The hatchet to cut a tall sapling, especially one with symmetrical branches that are at least finger-thick.
        2. Trim the branches from the sapling, taking care to leave at least 6 inch long prongs. 
        3. The end with the branch prong can then be used as a compost aerator by simply driving it into the compost and turning the sapling handle. 
        4. Repeat the process a couple of times on the compost pile as needed.

        Common Questions

        Do You Need A Compost Aerator?

        Yes, you need a compost aerator to drill holes into the compost, which supplies the required oxygen and allows the carbon dioxide to escape freely.

        What Temperature Should I Turn My Compost?

        You should turn your compost when its temperature drops below one hundred so as to keep it within the optimal range of 120 to 140 degrees F.

        How Do I Know If My Compost Is Composting?

        You can tell if your compost is composting by checking its temperature- if it’s within the above 100 degrees F, it's definitely composting.

        How Does A Compost Turner Work?

        A compost turner works by mechanically forcing crumps of compost to mix in, which spreads the bacteria and fungi cutlers responsible for the decomposition process.

        How Often Should I Turn My Compost?

        It's recommended to turn the compost every two days or at least twice per week. This allows the cultures to break down the organic matter and reheat the compost pile.

        How Do You Make A Compost Pile?

        To make a compost pile, you will need to shred the organic plant matter before mixing it with the farmyard manure in layers until they form a sizable pile.

        Are Maggots Good For Compost?

        Yes, maggots combine the compost and bore tiny holes through it, which increases the aeration rate in the compost. Maggots also feed on organic matter and leave behind nutrients, which are eventually absorbed by the plants.

        Should There Be Flies In My Compost?

        Flies are naturally attracted to compost piles, which are a source of food for the flies. 

        Is Urine Good For Compost?

        Yes, urine increases the nitrogen content in compost, which is excellent for vegetative plants like vegetables.

        Can You Use Shredded Paper In Compost?

        Yes, you can add shredded unbleached paper to compost; however, avoid colored and glossy print paper as it may contain harmful heavy metals that are harmful.

        Can You Put Moldy Fruit In Compost?

        Yes, moldy fruit will completely rot and release additional nutrients into the compost.

        Does Compost Turn Into Soil?

        Over time compost gets mixed with other secondary particles and becomes almost like the topsoil layer.

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