PDA

View Full Version : Aeration over-rated?


naturescape
10-03-2007, 12:13 PM
I've been in this business and performing aerations regularly for about a third of my customers since 1984.

It seems to me, when honestly looking at these lawns, that aeration is over-rated. I have a LOT of lawns that have never been aerated that look better than the ones that do get it done.

I am considering dropping this service next year. It is HARD work too, although certainly pays well (I can make 500 - 600/day doing that and fert, easy).

I DO think aerating is a good idea for renovating lawns, dropping seed into the aerifier holes works great -- but I honestly think that's all that the hard work of aerating is good for.

Any comments? Not just what is SUPPOSED to be good for the lawn, but in your own opinion if aeration honestly is WORTH the effort?

coonman
10-03-2007, 12:29 PM
I agree with you. I have been in my house for 20 years now. The lawn is bermuda. It has never been bagged only mulched (leaf mulching also). I have never dethatched or aerated. It is one of the best looking lawns in the neighborhood.

cybervision
10-03-2007, 12:31 PM
Whether or not Aeration is good for the lawn will be debated forever. One thing that most people will agree on is that is is not bad for the lawn(Unless it is over done).

With that said if you need the work or want the extra money then go for it. As long as your customers think it is good and want there lawn aerated than everyone is happy.

If you do enough aerating you can get a tractor with a 3 point aerator. They do a great job and much faster than chasing a walk behind.

MikeLT1Z28
10-03-2007, 01:11 PM
i definitely think it's worth it... i've managed to take out mower ruts that appeared over time by doing it. (couldn't change mowing pattern due to the shape of the yard).

Rtom45
10-03-2007, 01:21 PM
If your soil is predominately clay, aeration is important. If you maintain sportsfields, it is essential.

verant
10-03-2007, 02:15 PM
i totally agree, its overrated. i've only had a few customers ask for it in a few years now. so i never bothered w/ getting equip. for it. all lawns need are spring thatching, mowing, and fall cleanups. and of course water and feed.

LawnScapers of Dayton
10-03-2007, 02:44 PM
I will do it if they ask for it.......but I don't push it....

naturescape
10-03-2007, 04:51 PM
If you maintain sportsfields, it is essential.


I do maintain a commercial property that takes a LOT of wear during summer. I may continue aerating that in fall.

topsites
10-03-2007, 05:00 PM
Oh I fully agree, if you're not going to do anything besides aerating then you might as well do nothing, that's about as sick as changing the oil but not the filter. Also it certainly depends on the lawn and what school you go to, there's a thing called de-thatching but it's been my experience most aerators never de-thatch, and vice-versa, but in and of itself aerating does little if anything, might as well not even bother.

But it's just like anything else, most of the time I can take one look and I can tell you if the customer gives a rat or not. And sure they call and think whatever, but to this day and until I figure out how to run enough advertising to ONLY target the perfect lawns, I turn the worst of these things down left and right but to a point I have to accept whatever comes along too...

So sure I get my share of customers who just get me to aerate and they do nothing else, that to me is the biggest waste...
I HATE it, it eats me alive to watch folks spend money for nothing... But, some they call every year, you know, I explain it once or twice but eventually I just keep my mouth shut because so long they pay I'm dumb enough to do it, after I done explained it so many times, what else can you do?

As for the money, that machine is one of my cheapest, if I spend 1-200 a year in parts, the cost of this thing runs me 2-300 a year max, it generates great money and I love working on it because it's so simple, most of the time it's a tine or a belt that breaks, that's about it... I've had less problems with this thing in 6 years than anything else, it is the only machine I bought used that is still with me and really in not much worse a shape than the day I bought it.

I just can't beat it, I paid a grand for this solid axle buffalo and it will ride you, but it's good for me.

avnorm
10-03-2007, 05:22 PM
Yikey, mates. I just bought an aerator based on reading these threads in Aug - Sept time frame.

I was hoping to address the burnout areas in the yard.

Over the years, I have spot treated those areas by raking, scarifying and spreading seed when possible in the spr & fall times. Otherwise, weeds and crabgrass fill in. If I was late to seed, then, I sprayed and re-seeded later. Always a battle against decaying conditions.

Well, we'll see. I hope de-thatching, aerating and over seeding is the better course.

I have thought of installing a well and irrigation system as the more expensive option. Using house water is $$$ as we pay double the water rate for 15 years to pay back the county for the sewage system; thus, nobody here uses county water for sprinkling system.

grass disaster
10-03-2007, 05:48 PM
there have been numerous studies by universities that prove core aeration helps.

i can't believe you LCO's arn't aware of the benefits. aeration is one of the best things you can do for your lawn.

1. Helps conserve water
2. Enhances heat and drought stress
tolerance
3. Enhances soil water uptake and use
4. Reduces water runoff
and puddling
5. Reduces soil compaction
6. Improves air exchange
between the soil and
atmosphere
7. Improves fertilizer
uptake and use
8. Improves turfgrass
rooting
9. Improves resiliency
and cushioning
10. Enhances thatch breakdown

jeffex
10-04-2007, 07:34 AM
What is the soil condition where you are? As previously stated lawns with heavy clay it is a necessity IMO . I have even topdressed with sand after aeration for new houses where the builder stripped away the top soil. I rarely see dark dirt in any plug I have pulled in many years. This year dethatching has emerged as the service to sell because of all the dead lawns due to the drought. For the soil conditions I'm confronted with I tell people they are wasting their time fertilizing unless they cut high and aerate due to severe compaction of heavy clay soil. There is no blanket formula for lawn services. They can differ from neighborhood to neighborhood due to soil conditions and tree canopy. Don't give up on aeration for clay soil!!!

naturescape
10-04-2007, 08:33 AM
What is the soil condition where you are? As previously stated lawns with heavy clay it is a necessity IMO . I have even topdressed with sand after aeration for new houses where the builder stripped away the top soil. I rarely see dark dirt in any plug I have pulled in many years. This year dethatching has emerged as the service to sell because of all the dead lawns due to the drought. For the soil conditions I'm confronted with I tell people they are wasting their time fertilizing unless they cut high and aerate due to severe compaction of heavy clay soil. There is no blanket formula for lawn services. They can differ from neighborhood to neighborhood due to soil conditions and tree canopy. Don't give up on aeration for clay soil!!!

I have a variety of conditions where I am, but whether it is sandier soil or clay, I have many lawns that have never been aerated that look better. I have simply come to the conclusion that in MOST cases aeration is a waste of time, money and effort.

You need to know that for most of the lawns I aerate, they get an aeration every fall. Maybe that is just too often? Also, I can actually SEE a difference when I aerate in spring (have seen lawns green up before I left the property!), but am just too booked with other services to aerate in spring anymore. Also, spring aerations, while they may green up the lawn, also just allow a space for weeds to grow in at that time of the year.

jeffex
10-04-2007, 09:16 AM
hey , its your world! can't blame you for your experience! It's still a money maker for me.. I aerate for neighbors of my customers . They cut their own lawns but want thier lawn to look as good as my customers. Its my customers that tell them about aeration. I see a difference and so do they. If it didn't work for me I would drop it too!!!

DUSTYCEDAR
10-04-2007, 09:29 AM
core aeration is the biggest fall improvement to a lawn but we have heavy clay soil here throw some seed and u will look like a hero

jeffex
10-04-2007, 10:18 AM
I tell people "its like the hair club for lawns"

DUSTYCEDAR
10-04-2007, 11:31 AM
I tell people "its like the hair club for lawns"

now thats funny

big_country
10-04-2007, 02:03 PM
Golf courses spend big money on aerators.....of course it helps or they would eliminate that cost.

avnorm
10-04-2007, 03:49 PM
Thanks, grass disaster and jeffex for the more balanced views.

Norman

naturescape
10-04-2007, 05:23 PM
I may reconsider in some cases, or try to do some aerations in spring, when I think it helps more. I also do like to do a combo of aerating/seeding in fall to renovate damaged areas, and will continue doing that. But overall, I do not think fall aeration by itself or even with fertilization is at all necessary for a quality lawn.

I wish the JRCO aerator or another similar type could be used with my 48" Hydro walk behinds. JRCO only recommends it with the rider. Operating a Ryan all day is HARD work.

Ramairfreak98ss
10-04-2007, 06:55 PM
nature, sounds like youve done this a lot longer than i have :p I would agree though, its the only process of lawn maintenance or renovation that doesnt have great or direct visible results.

Does it help, yeah but how much all depends, maybe hardly and maybe a ton.

Ive aerated lawns and suddenly in the following month, they are greener and almost appear to be fertilized. Ive aerated others and there was no change at all.


Do you do walk behind aerations with like a blue bird type machine? I have a 60" landpride core aerator i use on my tractor and it works well on all of my large lawns. I can do an acre lot in about 15 minutes. Something that does almost 10mph and is 5 feet wide eats up some good ground.

jeffex
10-05-2007, 06:11 AM
wow or WOW!!!!!! are you saying that fall and winterizer doesn't make a difference ? I'm no agronomist but I notice all the lawns who get fall and winterizer green up first in the spring in my area. One year I seeded late with starter fert. on my own lawn and never put down fall and winterizer and noticed the late green up in the spring. The nutrients are delivered in the fall then stored in the root as the grass goes dormant. The healthier root greens up the blade faster in the spring . Even if you put down pre-emergent+ fert. in march the grass can't take up the nutrients because it's not actively growing yet[keep in mind i'm in zone 7 central MD]. The grass with already stored nutrients greens up faster. Simple science. You may want to check PH on your soils to see if they are way off and can't take up nutrients or bennifit from aeration. That may be the problem with limited effects of these services.

naturescape
10-05-2007, 08:49 AM
Do you do walk behind aerations with like a blue bird type machine?

I rent the small Ryan aerator. I've tried a couple others, I like the Ryan best. I've tried Bluebird and Plugr, hated both. I'd say the Classen split drive might make aeration easy enough so I'd consider offering it again to everybody, but don't want to buy one and can't rent them. I don't want to buy a Turnaer Direct because they haven't sent me ad materials upon my request, and if they can't do that, how are they going to get parts to me??

Since I'm seeing VERY limited results with Fall aeration, and because the machines are so tough to use, I'm considering just offering it for cases where renovation / seeding are necessary. In this case I think aeration really works! You can see the seed sprout in the aerifier holes, and it spreads from there, have seen this in Fall even without my customers watering.

But like I have said here, aeration just for maintenance is NOT worth the effort with a Ryan. I need an easier aerator to use in spring (when I've found it helps), maybe that's the answer. I have 48" hydro walks tho, so an attachment doesn't seem possible. I'm still tempted to try putting the JRCO aerator on my WB. Does anybody do this? So many people don't like the results of the JRCO, but it seems like the best way to go -- I think guys just aren't noticing the soft cores that get removed. But JRCO doesn't recommend it for the WB............. When it was made by Hooker, Hooker said it would work with the WB.

turfcobob
10-05-2007, 10:55 AM
I have to speak up on this one. Aeration is one of the best things you can do for a lawn with tight soils i.e. clay base. the lighter the soil like sand the less it needs aeration. On the subject of thatch removal or management. Read the paper / Study done by the University of Nebraska, on Thatch Management using aeration. It will inform you that you can manage the thatch build up using aeration. Aeration speeds up the decomposition of the thatch layer in many ways. Too many to explain here.
Aeration improves root growth and stimulates new growth where the roots are broken or cut during aeration. This will help the plan during times of stress. It also stimulates new plant regeneration. Improves nutrient intake by the plants and lets the roots breather. Loosens the soil. Studies have shown that you can get by with 9 holes per sq ft but the more the better. The old ryan greens aire put a hole every 2 inches. It was considered 100% aeration by most experts.

If you want a real test of what aeration adds to your program. Just aerate half a lawn and see what happens over time. I have been doing this and working with research people for over 30 years and the benefits can take over an hour to explain.
Turfcobob

wahlturfcare
10-10-2007, 03:29 PM
i am with Turfco bob, aeration in my opinion will help a yard out alot. i have done my own parents yard that used to be all weeds(field weeds) and be brown all year. Last year i started aerating it and fertilizing and this year it is green and extremely thick.

Fertilizing also work well with aeration at the same time and reseeding.

naturescape
10-10-2007, 05:03 PM
While I still think aeration may be overrated, I may still offer it next year. I'm thinking of buying a Classen or Turfco split drive aerator. If I can take the pain out of aerating, and not have to aerate a good part of the day to justify renting one, it may be worth doing. I figure the aerator would pay for itself in the first year, with pure profit after that. Also, if I have one on hand at all times, I may be able to aerate some lawns in spring, which seems like the better time.

I do have to say I make great money using one. I'm sure a split drive aerator would pay off even better, without being near-dead at the end of the day. If I rent the Ryan and use that and fert, in a day I can easily make a PROFIT of 500 - 600 or more.