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TruSomethingOrOther
02-24-2012, 09:29 PM
I am in the market for an aerator. I am currently gathering equipment to re-start my lawn care gig I got out of 5 years ago. I have been doing a lot of reading on lawnsite and manufacturers web sites about aerators. Never had the chance of using one, so my opinion on what would work best is limited to comparisons. What do you guys use? Why? What maintenance is required? Spare parts to keep on hand to keep going in the field? Anything else I am overlooking / missing?

Customer base is minimal right now. Marketing isn't an issue, but equipment is needed to be able to market services offered.

Aerators I have looked online at so far:

TurfCo XT5 & TurnAer 6 (pros / cons of each design???)
Lawn Solutions rider
Exmark offerings
Toro offerings
Lesco offerings

I am doing residentials to start off with, 5 to 10k sq. ft. range. Any and all help would be awesome!

Ducke
02-24-2012, 10:17 PM
Ryan
ya can't kill them.
When I worked at Weed Man (Ya I'm not proud of it) we used Ryan's that were around 15 years old and the kids there abused them daily and they are still running.

TruSomethingOrOther
02-25-2012, 12:42 AM
Ryan is one I didn't look into yet, actually. Thank you. With all the technology that is currently incorporated into the different makes and models, pretty hard to choose which is the right one to start off with. My luck I'll get a smaller unit to start out with and all I'll get are larger jobs

Chilehead
02-25-2012, 12:54 AM
Get a Plugr aerator......awesome machine!

TruSomethingOrOther
02-25-2012, 10:23 AM
More holes per sq ft mean a better job and less passes required, saving time and money (more productive as well). That I get. Depth of a plug is something that I see varying from equipment to equipment. Some only have a depth of 2.5 inches, some go to 5 inches. I'm a little hesitant on the shallower plugging depth when it comes to compacted soil.

djagusch
02-25-2012, 11:12 AM
OP Lawn Solutions/Toro/Exmark is now all the same. Lawn Solutions is no more as Toro bought them. You can go to Exmark's website and see the aerator line up there (it is red lawn solution equipment).

For a small aerator the Turfco XT5 or Exmark 21" aerator is pretty similiar and between 3K to 3.5K in price.

For around 5K you can buy Exmarks 24" dual hydro aerator also.

The Exmark rider is 9K and seems alittle overkill for just starting back up.

There are plugr, classen units that are out there also.

TruSomethingOrOther
02-25-2012, 11:49 AM
Been reading the lawnsite thread from last August about that whole debacle concerning LS / Toro / Exmark. Quite interesting. Which makes me beg the question, why does LS still have their web site still up and going if the company got bought out? Juuust sayin.

The Exmark rider (thank you for the price quote, saves me time looking into it) is gonna be the choice for the bigger accounts (need to have an expansion plan for when the time comes). Not a first purchase starting back up, I agree. (if I had that kind of money to drop, boy wouldn't that be nice)

I have a motto that I have lived by. Buy it once, buy it right. (and never buy used, special circumstances apply tho) If it takes more money to purchase the Exmark dual hydro (if I choose), then so be it.

Exact Rototilling
02-25-2012, 12:33 PM
More holes per sq ft mean a better job and less passes required, saving time and money (more productive as well). That I get. Depth of a plug is something that I see varying from equipment to equipment. Some only have a depth of 2.5 inches, some go to 5 inches. I'm a little hesitant on the shallower plugging depth when it comes to compacted soil.

Well Iím a fan of the Plugr 850 and I own 2 of them but Iíll be the first to admit the marketing angle of more plugs per square foot...in a single pass....blah blah.... Is frankly meet with skepticism, disbelief, and Iím beginning to wonder if it is turn off to the customer when in their ignorance they might think this guy is full of it. An aeration is just an aeration. If you want to keep things simple....?

When I started with aeration a few years back all I had was the Plugr 850 based on recommendations here in older threads. The Ryan 28 does in fact pull a few more plugs than the Plugr 800ís But the cost of the Ryan new is pretty high.

So a few years back Lawn Solutions came out with their 21Ē David suggested I buy one and frankly wanted me to own one since Iím very vocal.

When I showed up to aerate with the Lawn Solutions unit a few people complained, dang whereís the plugs...didnít you have another yellow aerator...that other one dis a better job. On a personal level I found myself doing the equivalent double pass much of the time since the visual plug count was so dismal.

The only advantage IMO of my LS 21Ē WB is it is easier to run over rocky soil where the Plugr jumps and gets a pounding. Some of this is transmitted to the operator as well. Also in ideal conditions yes it will pull a bit deeper plug.

The LS draw backs are the front hydro drive makes it cumbersome to load, steep properties are a true PITA to deal with. I absolutely hate traversing grassy swells with the machine since it tends to be top heavy. And in the soils here the unit needs the full weight kit.

Pros of the Plugr 850. As long as the soil rock count is low I prefer to run this machine. Turns are faster and easier. With the hydro drive it makes it faster and easier to deal with even on flat lawns. The effective aeration path is a bit wider on it as well.

So Iíll try to keep this short. In conclusion the Plugr cost of operation is higher and in rocky gravely type soils we have here I can literally see the wear on the tines in just one property that is a half acre or so. the cost is roughly $16-20 each for new ones and there are 8 tines that need to be replaced. The older 850 has a fiddle factor that is higher than the LS 21Ē. Belts which acts as clutch need to be adjusted regularly. Tines need to be greased constantly etc. From what I understand the newer 855 has made some aspects of the fiddle factor less.

Mowing over the top of a Plugr aerated lawn is not something I look forward to since the soil volume is much higher and the plugs are delivered higher up and not just passively laying there. If you have to bags the clipping for whatever reason all that top dressing effect is lost in eh catcher. And the catcher gets really heavy quickly. It is a huge waste to bag the cores.

The plug count per square foot is higher with a double LS pass but the top dressing effect on the lawn is still less.

Unless grass is cut down to say less than 3Ē the shorter the better...it is tougher to see where the plugs are on the LS WB. At times I end up doing more overlaps trying to figure out where I just aerated and more time is wasted especially in low light conditions.

If I canít get more money for running my Plugr ....Iíd rather just run the Lawn Solutions unit.

Many will say you need to make 2 passes with a rolling tine aerator and that is all great but Iím not doing any more guilt based Lawn Solution double passes unless Iím getting paid more for it.

The aeration rates in this area thanks to the bigger national companies is no where near 2.5X Ė 3X the mow rate. Application Co. here will often run $29.95 or $39.95 bundled specials for lawns I wonít touch for less than $65. My pricing floor is roughly 1.5X the mow rate.

Iíd absolutely love to phase out mowing's except for just a few accounts and do strictly aerations and actually enjoy my summers.

My advice is see what your local market will bear price wise before jumping off thinking this is a turn key gold mine money making operation regardless of what machine you run.

:waving:

TruSomethingOrOther
02-25-2012, 01:32 PM
That's exactly what I was looking for in a response. Thank you! Here in northern Illinois the soil is just plain ole dirt. Not sandy or clay based like other parts of the country. I know a little bit about pricing or aerations in the area, and that whole $29.99 crap isn't gonna cut it, I don't care how easy it is. If I don't charge that for a mowing then I'm not going to for aeration. A prominent fertilizing company I use to work for (buddy of mine is branch manager), does market research for this region and the price is more along the lines of $65 to start. It may be higher, been a while since I worked there. Most companies around here have a separate crew for aerations, as where I'm gonna have everything with me. Saves time and money in the end IMO.

MisterBreeze
02-26-2012, 04:39 PM
Classen split drive

djagusch
02-26-2012, 04:49 PM
On the plugr compared to rolling tine plug count is one thing. The rollers due tear the soil underneath which is good also. Plugr does not seem to do that as much.
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TruSomethingOrOther
02-26-2012, 10:53 PM
I'm not owning a bright yellow aerator. There just isn't any way that could ever happen. It looks like a toy a kid should have. No offense to any one that as them, I'm sure they work great. Ryan's from what I hear are indeed tanks. They keep going and going. The Classen split drive is also an attractive option. I'm surprised I haven't heard anything about Turfco's options. Not sure because they are only direct, if that has any bearing on popularity with landscapers? Keep the comments coming!

Ducke
02-27-2012, 09:08 AM
I have tried Turfco machines and found them very awkward to use and very very very slow.
I have also used Classen which is fine but they are more like a consumer model.
Blue Bird is an identical machine but I found the BB to be a little heavier duty.

kennc38
02-27-2012, 10:37 AM
I'm not owning a bright yellow aerator. There just isn't any way that could ever happen. It looks like a toy a kid should have. No offense to any one that as them, I'm sure they work great. Ryan's from what I hear are indeed tanks. They keep going and going. The Classen split drive is also an attractive option. I'm surprised I haven't heard anything about Turfco's options. Not sure because they are only direct, if that has any bearing on popularity with landscapers? Keep the comments coming!

I bought the Turfco XT5 last year and love it! I was renting Blue Birds and the XT5 is at least 50% easier to operate. It pulls plugs just like the BB, if not better, is easy to work on and maintain and Turfco has been great to deal with and them being a direct only company has not been an issue. They are offering 10% off and free shipping right now, so you can get the XT5 for right at 3k shipped to your house! I have several yards to have some pretty steep hills and ditches and the XT5 has no problem taking them either vertically or horizontally. They are also built very well IMO and are of the same build quality as BB's and Classens. If I can answer any more questions, please let me know.

WHIPPLE5.7
02-27-2012, 12:09 PM
I would rather have the Plugr but its too much money. I have a new XT5 yet to be used, we'll see how it goes.
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Exact Rototilling
02-27-2012, 01:27 PM
Well if the yellow Plugr aerators bug you then there is the Ryan 28 and that unit pulls a bit more dense pattern than the plugr 800's do.

Again that machine new is over $5k. If you're not claiming more plugs and charging more over a more standard machine ....don't bother with it.
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MisterBreeze
02-27-2012, 04:52 PM
I have tried Turfco machines and found them very awkward to use and very very very slow.
I have also used Classen which is fine but they are more like a consumer model.
Blue Bird is an identical machine but I found the BB to be a little heavier duty.

Classen a consumer model??? I don't see too many homeowners buying a $3200 aerator.

TruSomethingOrOther
02-28-2012, 05:59 AM
lol Classen doesn't yell "consumer" when i visited the web site. It looks like a heavy duty machine. Looks a little too heavy duty IMO. Correct me if I'm wrong. Am I being too picky on the yellow plugr? I mean, the only thing that sticks out in my truck and trailer setup is my orange Scag.

Speed on the Turfco's is something I have heard is a slight issue. Might take the dive on the XT5 and hope for the best. Might call and talk to them about the TurnAer 6 as well (little bigger, can still maneuver in smaller yards). Plan on purchasing an aerator in the next month or so. Depends on a couple things. In the process of remodeling a bathroom (full tear out and redo), and turning the spare bedroom into an office (new ceiling fan, all new electrical, paint, new desk and accessories, etc). Crap gets expensive after a while.

MisterBreeze
02-28-2012, 09:16 AM
There is a Lawn Solutions aerator in the "for sale" section of this forum. I think its in Ohio and just under $2000.00 Good deal

TruSomethingOrOther
02-28-2012, 03:22 PM
Usually I'm a little hesitant on purchasing used equipment. Done it in the past and was kinda "eh" about it. Still will have to take a look. Thank you!

CUSTOMLAWN10
03-03-2012, 08:36 AM
I used to rent ryan and all of them, then I bought a JRCO hook aerator for my 52 inch stander with is also can be mounted on my Scag 61. I is easy to use, less mess, very good for overseeding and infact fractures the soil and does not cut the roots like a plug. Anyway, theories vary on all of that so, for aerating I would look into it. It is easy on the body, electric lift, and only cost about 2500. I frame out small yard with the hand held an use the hook, but some times I still have use the hand held and for that I got used Ryan. The crank shaft works much better than drum.

sildoc
03-04-2012, 10:47 PM
Exact has it down. I have ran them all. Bluebirds, Classen, Plugr, Ryan. The only ones I haven't ran was Billy Goat and turfco. I had a plugr and bought a Lawn solutions because people are looking for a price point I couldn't get with a plugr. Plugr is a great machine and pulls way better plugs than any other machine I have used but the cost to operate is 20-24% greater than my lawn solutions machine. We do roughly 4-6 thousand aerations a year and since buying my lawn solutions last spring our roi is 40% over the plugr. Hate to say it but the machine is easy on the body, fast and we only replaced the tines one time. I replaced my plugr tines 4-5 times a year and at 10-15 bucks apiece plus labor it was my final breaking point.

We compete with TG and other companies here offering a 35 under 2500 sqft and the lawn solutions has done the job we were looking for. the up sell of aeration is great and a gold mine however if you can't compete with the big dogs just rent what you can and line them up, you are better off that way.
We are looking at adding another this year but now that Toro corp has bought them out we might think about the xt 5 from turfco. I will wait and see as another company in our area (friend) has bought the turfco and I would like to compare side by side when he receives it.

TruSomethingOrOther
03-04-2012, 11:26 PM
Exact has it down. I have ran them all. Bluebirds, Classen, Plugr, Ryan. The only ones I haven't ran was Billy Goat and turfco. I had a plugr and bought a Lawn solutions because people are looking for a price point I couldn't get with a plugr. Plugr is a great machine and pulls way better plugs than any other machine I have used but the cost to operate is 20-24% greater than my lawn solutions machine. We do roughly 4-6 thousand aerations a year and since buying my lawn solutions last spring our roi is 40% over the plugr. Hate to say it but the machine is easy on the body, fast and we only replaced the tines one time. I replaced my plugr tines 4-5 times a year and at 10-15 bucks apiece plus labor it was my final breaking point.

We compete with TG and other companies here offering a 35 under 2500 sqft and the lawn solutions has done the job we were looking for. the up sell of aeration is great and a gold mine however if you can't compete with the big dogs just rent what you can and line them up, you are better off that way.
We are looking at adding another this year but now that Toro corp has bought them out we might think about the xt 5 from turfco. I will wait and see as another company in our area (friend) has bought the turfco and I would like to compare side by side when he receives it.


I would love to have your unique perspective on the Turfco model if / when you get the opportunity. I frequent lawnsite daily. Let me know!

sildoc
03-04-2012, 11:33 PM
I would love to have your unique perspective on the Turfco model if / when you get the opportunity. I frequent lawnsite daily. Let me know!

Will let you know we are starting to get busy and he should receive it in the next week or so. I will post updates when I can.

Exact Rototilling
03-05-2012, 12:07 PM
...........snip....

We compete with TG and other companies here offering a 35 under 2500 sqft and the lawn solutions has done the job we were looking for. the up sell of aeration is great and a gold mine however if you can't compete with the big dogs just rent what you can and line them up, you are better off that way. .....snip.....

Not sure if anyone caught this but that is what I'm up against here price wise. $35 is my minimum charge for showing up for a tiny lawn with my Lawn Solutions 21". $45 for running my Plugr 850. If I have to mark sprinklers it goes UP in price.

On large estate Lawns that take a few hours I can actually see the plugr tines wear down...$$$ .. :(

As I have mentioned before application Co here do a $29.95 special and bundle it with other offers.

My advice is to know your market before diving into the shallow end of the pool head first.

I had visions of a solid 2.5X - 3X the mow rate when I looked into this 4 years ago. Reality was a rude awakening.
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sildoc
03-05-2012, 12:52 PM
My biggest regret is not having lawn solutions make me a special roller tine assembly that had more holes per sqft and was faster. Now that Toro co owns them I am guessing there is no way that will happen.

Exact Rototilling
03-05-2012, 10:09 PM
My biggest regret is not having lawn solutions make me a special roller tine assembly that had more holes per sqft and was faster. Now that Toro co owns them I am guessing there is no way that will happen.

David had talked about rigging one up for me since I'm Mr. More plugs is better. I belive David rigged one up at the factory but it was too many tines and plug depth suffered. I have the full weight kit on mine and frankly it needs it. A more dense time pattern would not work in the soil here.

Have any of your clients groused about fewer plugs with the LS unit vs the old plugr 400...?

My 850 has a tighter pattern than the plugr 400/600 series and I had numerous complaints about lack of plugs from people you'd think would not care when i suddenly showed up with the lawn solitions. Again I repeat ...client wants more plugs they pay 30% more.

Sildoc,

How.do you charge extra for a.double pass?
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sildoc
03-05-2012, 10:43 PM
Exact, I have had a few complaints but with double pass they were happy. I usually charge half again as much and can get it as the competitors won't double pass. But I think we are pretty low in price just to compete. I could get a bit more but not the volume, and the LS was an amazing find in upping the bottom line. I would love to get the 2-3x mowing price but it is not going to happen in this economy. I would go back to the plugr but they need to make some improvements on their tines. I have told them this several times. Oh well I guess they sell enough in tines to make up for me not buying their product.

Duekster
03-20-2012, 08:43 PM
I find this interesting. I only get a few request for aeration per year but I know people needed it. We have heavy clay so I know tines can get expensive.

Good thread and thanks. Sounds like the LS and the tines wearing better is a good idea. I am also about easy of use, and not killing the operator.

Please carry on for those of us wanting to know.

Duekster
04-12-2012, 09:32 PM
subscribe - looking also. do not want to spend a mint but would like an easy to use and effective aerator to offer the service