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View Full Version : My first Aeration experience!


HighGrass
09-20-2005, 01:24 AM
Well, I aerated five lawns today. This was my first time at this so I thought I would pass on some observations for any of you that have not done this yet so for the more experienced, this might be a re-hash.

Some background
Machine is a rental, Ryan. ($74.00 w/insurance)
It is a walk behind and I think it's a 21"
Lawn sizes:
#1. 30,000 sq/ft
#2. 20,000 sq/ft
#3. 25,000 sq/ft
#4. 9000 sq/ft
#5. 9000 sq/ft

I picked up the unit at 0900 and got to my first lawn at about 0920. The guy at the rental shop didn't exactly check me out on the machine but it only took me out about two minutes to pretty much figure out where everything is and what lever does what etc. For those of you that do this for the first time, you may may want to ask questions before getting the machine into the field...especially if your solo.

The first lawn I did was the biggest. You really get a sense of how big a lawn is when you walk behind something over it. I normally mow this lawn with a Z-steer so when I aerated it...boy did it seem to take forever to do this lawn. Finish time...1.5hrs! Granted, about half that lawn was me getting used to the machine and trying to figure out what line to use that would be the most effiecant. Contrary to the way I mow, I found that aerating in a circular pattern seemed faster because turning one of these beast at the end of a row ain't like tossing a walk behind mower around. Cores were nice and consistent but i noticed that the machine works better if you lean on it a little. The problem with this (with this machine anyway) was that since I am 6' 1", that meant constantly bending at the small of my back which in a word...sucks. So, I simply went 80% of the time, letting the weight of the machine do the work. This seemed to produce pretty decent results.

The rest of the lawns were easier to do, but trust me when I tell you, for a 46 year old guy who is admittedly overweight, here are some thoughts at the end of the day....

-My feet hurt
-Next year...charge more!
-My feet hurt
-My feet hurt
-Oh, did I forget to tell you I made $500.00?
-My feet hurt
-My feet hurt.

Olylawnboy
09-20-2005, 02:21 AM
Wow, do I remember those days :) ...Oly

hole in one lco
09-20-2005, 02:25 AM
its even funner when it rely dry out and then your chasing the thing all day long but i think the best part is when you hit a tree root

korelandscaping
09-20-2005, 02:44 AM
I feel your pain. I have a Ryan aerator and it takes quite a toll on your body at the end of the day! To be honest...you probably should have made alot more then 500.00 for all those lawns. I try to charge 1.5-2 cents per square foot then extra for seed. ( I usually go cheaper with past aerating customers ) I also have a minimum charge of 90.00 to aerate a lawn under 5,000 sq ft no matter what. These fuel prices are ridiculous!
I purchased a 60 inch tow behind a couple of years back. The tow behind was very productive but at the same time didn't do the same job as the walk behind. I put it up for sale this year and purchased a new gator rator. Let me tell you...this thing is awesome. It pulls out great plugs and all you have to do is sit on your ztr and press a button. My 2 guys did three lawns today: 35k, 10k and 25k in under 3.5 with about 25-35 minutes in travel time. If you decide that aerating is a service that you want to promote, then getting a gator rator is the way to go. It cost me 1800.00 shipped to Ct. Look into it....Gregg

GrassBustersLawn
09-20-2005, 03:00 AM
I guess your GATOR RATOR is better than mine.

I bought it a couple of years ago. The first year of production? I don't know if improvements have been made, but they are definitely needed!

First job I did the "mud flap" was ripped off the machine. Consequently there are plugs flying up on the deck & foot well of my mower.

Later on the linear actuator began to not hold the load. When head was lifted the motor would slowly drop it until it was on the ground. Had to keep hitting the "up" button so it wouldn't drag. I talked to Bryant about it and he said "he'd gotten a bad batch of motors (linear actuator)." I got a new motor from Bryant at the Louisville Expo later that year. Now that motor will not stay "DOWN". I have to keep hitting the DOWN button to keep it in the dirt.

Also the thing EATS FUSES like CRAZY. It is not unusual to go thru 2 or 3 in a yard.

The electrical CONNECTOR that attaches controller to power head FUSED TOGETHER from the HEAT that is being generated. I don't know from what!

I tried calling Bryant today on the 800 # listed on the machine & got "Number no longer in service". Are they still in business???

With all that being said, I did do 9 yards today. If I'd had done that with a Bluebird I'd be DEAD NOW.

Oh yeah, I paid TOP DOLLAR for this...$2250 as I remember. So I kind of expect it to PERFORM like it SHOULD instead of having all these problems!


Mike

1grnlwn
09-20-2005, 08:26 AM
30,000 thats tough with a walker. It's hard to get much over $10/K around here. Lots of rental stores and DIYers. I use a ryan 21" for the perimeter and tight yards and a ryan tow behind for the field. Pull behind will pull 3" plugs in almost any conditions. Don't forget to aks the people if they have an invisible dog fence. That can ruin your day.

Mark

MOW ED
09-20-2005, 09:09 AM
Oh ya, I know exactly what you mean and I will never relive those days.

I used a Lawnaire IV in the old days or my learning stage as I like to refer to it as. I now do not own nor rent a walk behind aerator. My little grey market Mits 15hp diesel with the Classen 40" aerator is the only way I go. Up and down with the 3 point is effortless and better yet painless. I can aerate lawns of any size. 2000 sq ft to 5 acres is not an issue. The bigger the better. Its an old gear model that I got from e-bay but I love it. Paid 2500 for the tractor and 800 for the aerator. That is already paid for a few times as well as the increased production from me because I am not sitting in traction the next week after walking.
Check the link for some shots;
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=52764

Just load up on the ibuorifen and start looking on e-bay. Its worth every penny. Take care.

topsites
09-20-2005, 10:49 AM
Hell yeah you won't be so quick to shoot off the mouth at someone who says they do Core Aeration no more, lol.

I'm just ribbing but first of all congrats on figuring out one of the better money makers in this business. A lot of folk won't even try it (cauz it IS a bit of a b!7ch) and it is hard work especially in the turns, I have a Classen Ta-26, always surprises me how a little 4hp Honda can pull the whole machine so good.

The only thing I wanted to mention, JUST in case you did not know / forgot, is remember to mark sprinkler heads with flaggots in yards that have sprinkler systems thou I will mention I've hit a few heads over time with the tines and no damage done - Still, better safe than sorry, you bust one and this one is likely your fault, every 'pro' Lco ALWAYS marks sprinkler heads, so...

That it's worth a lot, no doubt. Raise your prices but be watchful, the ceiling may not be as high as you think, then again maybe in your case it is high, seeing how it appears you underbid somewhat...dunno... Still, I've done lots for 30 and 40 dollars before but nowadays for MOST yards my minimum is $45 and there's guys out there won't MOVE for less than $60.

HighGrass
09-20-2005, 10:55 AM
Hell yeah you won't be so quick to shoot off the mouth at someone who says they do Core Aeration no more, lol.

I'm just ribbing but it is hard work especially in the turns, I have a Classen Ta-26, and that baby is bad, always surprises me how a little 4hp Honda can pull the whole machine so good.

The only thing I wanted to mention, JUST in case you did not know / forgot, is remember to mark sprinkler heads with flaggots in yards that have sprinkler systems.

Yea...the Ryan I rented had the same motor. Talk about a fuel miser. I bet I didn't use a gallon all day!

LonniesLawns
09-20-2005, 02:45 PM
With a RockSolid Plugr I often do 10 -12 8k yards ina day and have no problem playing softball or going for a jog with the wife afterwards. All the difference in the world. A great machine.

TLS
09-20-2005, 02:56 PM
I just wish, that with any drum type aerator, that turning was easier.

Yes, my Gator-Rator wires get VERY hot. Wonder if I should get some thicker gauge wire if that would help? Get more volts to motor, less amp draw, faster lift time....Any thoughts?

Oh, yeah....my mudflap was toast the first few hours as well.

brucec32
09-20-2005, 03:51 PM
It sounds like there is still room for a major manufacturer to come in with a core aerating attachment for their ZTR's that is turnable, reliable, and reasonably priced. Some of them seem to cost more than entire midsize mowers with engines and much more complex systems. I figure it's the very low production volumes, so the key is for someone BIG to make them and make a lot of them.

I sold my aerators in 2003 and haven't even bothered getting back into it this year. It's a nice profit if you have extra time, or are already handling a lawn's applications, but aerating season here hits just when I am wearing thin in terms of energy and I don't do enough of it to change my life, so I just am skipping it. It also wreaks havoc with the mowing schedule.

korelandscaping
09-20-2005, 04:26 PM
I did alot of research on the gator rator before I purchased it. Unfortunately, I didn't see to many negative comments until now. I would assume that upgrades where made because I don't have a mudflap on mine. It's a solid piece of metal all the way around the drum. The switch seems like it's heavy duty and water proof, all the connections are shrinked wrapped too. I noticed that most of the gator rators I saw had "gator rator" printed on the machine. The one I have has a "ground breaker" sticker on it. I'll keep an eye on the actuator as well as the wires. Thanks for the input...let me know if you gain contact with them. Gregg

HighGrass
09-20-2005, 05:38 PM
I did alot of research on the gator rator before I purchased it. Unfortunately, I didn't see to many negative comments until now. I would assume that upgrades where made because I don't have a mudflap on mine. It's a solid piece of metal all the way around the drum. The switch seems like it's heavy duty and water proof, all the connections are shrinked wrapped too. I noticed that most of the gator rators I saw had "gator rator" printed on the machine. The one I have has a "ground breaker" sticker on it. I'll keep an eye on the actuator as well as the wires. Thanks for the input...let me know if you gain contact with them. Gregg

Gregg. I hope you can give us some feedback on your purchase and maybe some photos.

Gators_Aerator
09-20-2005, 07:18 PM
That is all I do is aerate. I own a bluebird and rent an additional machine when the schedule gets full.

I personally do not like the ryan. The bluebird is fine, except for the tree roots. I hit a few today.

I am looking at adding more machines. The Turfco Turnaer is on my list.

korelandscaping
09-20-2005, 11:04 PM
My guys love it...so far. They didn't report any problems with it thus far. I will post some pics when I get a chance. I'm trying to schedule about 15-20 lawns to aerate for this Friday and Saturday. I will let you know if any problems occur....I hope I'm not jinxing myself!

micah79
09-28-2005, 03:28 AM
I have not aerated before and am thinking about doing it this year. One question I have not seen come up is irrigation heads. 90% of my customers have irrigation. do you have to find and mark all the heads to go around them or are they some how unaffected by the aerator.

Strongmd
09-28-2005, 06:26 AM
We purchased a Walker Perfaerator this year, I think it is made in conjunction with Pluggr. It is unbelievably fast compared to the Ryans we were using. We sold one Ryan but kept the other for trimming, etc. I think it ran $3,600.

turfcobob
09-29-2005, 04:27 PM
HighGrass...Here is a little tip..especially for the over 25 crowd..Get one of the new aerators from Turfco that you drive and can ride behind. I got one (I am 58 yrs old) and I can aerate 30,000 sq ft and not break a sweat or get a back ache. I walk with the unit to trim out the edges and corners then I put the sulky on it and ride. I even have a drink holder on mine...case I gets thirsty..Times have changed and finally the equiment has. Aeration does not have to hurt no more. Hardest part of the job is loading it back in my pickup. Look at them at Turfco.com it is the nuts...

GreenUtah
09-29-2005, 07:12 PM
so from one who sports an actual battle wound from a Ryan IV(14 stitches right behind my chin, ducked under a tree limb and hit a small water meter cover in the long grass at the same time, trapping my head between limb and the handles, shoving the corner of the drive bar right up in..nice huh?) the small ones are best for "trimming" . A riding mower has enough weight and power to tow a whole host of pull behinds, gettting into many many areas you may not htink it would. Just have to give em a hitch. Heard a lot more about boredom doing large props than any kind of wear and tear on the body. For the record, the easist way to deal with all the drum styles is to keep your arms straight and use your body weight to swing/pull(think a water skiing turn) out on the corners and drive it through your turn. Guys get pounded when they try to muscle it rather than let the machine do all the work. Aeration with these can(not recommeded for safety reasons, but possible) be done with one hand once you get the proper technique....now if we could just find a way to scrape off muddy cores from your shoes when you have to walk one out......

BryPaulD
09-30-2005, 09:29 AM
I have not aerated before and am thinking about doing it this year. One question I have not seen come up is irrigation heads. 90% of my customers have irrigation. do you have to find and mark all the heads to go around them or are they some how unaffected by the aerator.

YES, mark the heads and DON'T run them over

denoon
09-30-2005, 07:03 PM
Just bought a 60" Frontier to use with a 3pt. hitch. So far so good some rain would help. Riding is sure better than walking and the results are good

dfor
10-01-2005, 08:54 AM
I won't do any more aerations without a contract stating that I am not liable for anything underground. Meaning that the customer marked all the heads, but the irrigation system was installed too shallow. And I poked through the lines in about 6 places.

HighGrass
10-01-2005, 01:02 PM
HighGrass...Here is a little tip..especially for the over 25 crowd..Get one of the new aerators from Turfco that you drive and can ride behind. I got one (I am 58 yrs old) and I can aerate 30,000 sq ft and not break a sweat or get a back ache. I walk with the unit to trim out the edges and corners then I put the sulky on it and ride. I even have a drink holder on mine...case I gets thirsty..Times have changed and finally the equiment has. Aeration does not have to hurt no more. Hardest part of the job is loading it back in my pickup. Look at them at Turfco.com it is the nuts...

Thanks for the tip. It will certainly be the machine of choice if and when I purchase. I was able to convince my local rental shop to purchase a turfvent pull behind and I'm going to try it with my 2002 Honda Rancher ATV. My only concern is that the hitch on the ATV seems to be about 2-3 inches forward of the rear tires as opposed to being behind as with most lawn tractors. But I think if I'm careful on the corners, I should be okay. No drink holder though ;)

korelandscaping
10-02-2005, 11:54 PM
My experience with the gator rator....worked great for the first week or two trial period. After that....it's a piece of S--t. All the problems that everyone else stated happened. The wires got hot, fuses where blowing, wouldn't stay up and then wouldn't stay down. Gotta love it

Cutters Lawn Care
10-03-2005, 12:26 AM
Man you are cheap on your aeration. 93K sq. ft. for $500. No way would I even think about that. I charge 15 per k with a $100 minimum. Aereation is a premium service. You should charge accordingly. Even at $10 per K you are at $930. Charge handsomely for aeration because done properly it is hard work.

dmc456
10-07-2005, 01:51 PM
My experience with the gator rator....worked great for the first week or two trial period. After that....it's a piece of S--t. All the problems that everyone else stated happened. The wires got hot, fuses where blowing, wouldn't stay up and then wouldn't stay down. Gotta love it


Same here. I made a new wiring harness for mine which worked better, but still a piece of crap. I sold mine 3 months after purchasing for $1,000 less than when it was new.

HighGrass
10-07-2005, 03:58 PM
Well, after I used the Ryan walk behind, when I finished that day, I still had about 6-7 lawns to do but they were all bigger. So I called the place where I rented the Ryan and asked if they had a pull behind. The guy said that they didn't but if I could recommend one, they would look into buying one. Well, they ended up buying a turfvent. I picked it up last Monday morning and happily paid the guy 28.00 for the day. I did have to buy four cement blocks for the weights (7 bucks payup ). I used my 2000 Honda Rancher ATV to pull the thing around and got 7 lawns done by 3PM. I grossed about 900 bucks!

PMLAWN
10-07-2005, 06:08 PM
I have not aerated before and am thinking about doing it this year. One question I have not seen come up is irrigation heads. 90% of my customers have irrigation. do you have to find and mark all the heads to go around them or are they some how unaffected by the aerator.
Buy a bunch of flags and drop them the week before. Tell them to mark all heads AND valve covers. Tell them they are responsible and stay away from dog fences. You will kill them

micah79
10-07-2005, 09:30 PM
Thanks, I was thinking about the dog fences as well. I guess I'll have to have the customer mark that as well. It seems irresponsible, to me that invisable fence doesnt bury their line further down. It causes problems for all kinds of stuff.

pcnservices
10-09-2005, 10:57 PM
Aerating is NO fun! although it is good money you make. Your $500 is way low for 93k sqft. You should have at least doubled that figure.
I use two aerators, a Turfco and a Ryan Lawnaire (both 19") This season I could not get any PT labor to help me with aeration so my wife decided she'll give it a try. I had her do the bigger flat surfaces where she did not have to man handle the machine that much. Needless to say - she almost died. I really felt sorry for her but there was nothing we could do. We had to get through our schedule.
Good Luck
PC

vale tudo
10-10-2005, 09:10 AM
I used a Regular Ryan and it knocked the hell out of me by the end of the day. I used a plit drive this year and it was 100% easier on me and my employess this year. She turns nicely and you dont have to drop the lever up and down to spin the other way

korelandscaping
10-10-2005, 10:13 PM
About the gator rator...again. I ended up eliminating the fuse and I haven't had any problems at all. I'm not saying for anyone to go out and do this (because I know it's wrong ) but so far it's working for me. I check the wires consistently and they aren't hot at all. The next chance I get I'm going to get rid of the glass fuse and put in the plastic style one and put a 35-40 amp fuse in....just in case.