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Aerating in an Irrigated Yard

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mtdman, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    Here's the scoop. Whenever I aerate an irrigated lawn, I make the homeowner mark all the sprinkler heads and control boxes. Won't touch the lawn if not. In 3 years, that has worked fine.

    Until this year. In the spring I had a guy I aerated complain I broke his sprinkler line. Went to check it out. Sure enough, there was a hole in his sprinkler line. But the line was quite literally at the surface of the lawn. It was right under the surface of the grass.

    This fall, I've got another guy claiming I broke a line as well. This time the line was a bit deeper, but still right near the surface and not buried as deep as it should be.

    The guy in the spring had a landscaper put in a patio, and in the course of doing that they moved the lines and didn't bury them far enough. Not at all, actually. I refused to take responsibility for that. How am I supposed to know that if he didn't tell me, and how am I supposed to see under the ground for obstacles like that? This is why I ask to have things marked that I might hit. He got his landscapers to pay for it.

    The guy this fall though is being stubborn. He insists it's my fault. I am not sure how, as these lines are supposed to be buried deeper than the 2 or 3 inches the cores go. I ask to have the yard marked. I can't see through the ground, if something is down there, how am I supposed to avoid it?

    I have a feeling I'll end up paying the guy or fixing it to shut him up. But I've got to protect myself in the future against this. Does anyone use a disclaimer or waiver when they do aeration to protect against this kind of thing? I'm at the point where I am afraid to do aeration in irrigated lawns because it costs me more than I can make.

  2. Avery

    Avery LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,389

    Two breaks in 3 years is a pretty good track record. Fix the second one. it will cost you about a buck fiddy in PVC and thirty minutes of your time. No big deal.
  3. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    That's it? No one else uses a disclaimer for aeration?
  4. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    the second one seems a little fishy to me. How could you hit a line that was bured below the frost line? You can't, if insulted correctly. I would tell the owner, sorry, but if the line was buried at proper depths, I would have never hit.
  5. kickin sum grass

    kickin sum grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 628

    I have a disclosure at the bottom of my info page for aeration. It states that all underground objects including sprinklers....blah, blah.........and we are not responsible for any unmarked objects. We have punched thru a couple control lids but thats about it.

    Fix it and then tell them that you will not fix it next time if it is not marked.

    On a side note, I had my customer call and said that a guy is going around pricing 60 buck aeration for 1/2-3/4 acres. I said have fun with him cuz I aint gonna come out for that price. I just assume to stay in bed.
  6. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    Maybe put in something about you not responsible for improperly installed irrigation lines that are not installed 8 inches below the surface.
  7. CrewCutEnterprises

    CrewCutEnterprises LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 898

    I just aquired my first aerator. ryan lawn air. smaller one.

    Well I normally do houses for like 100 a pop. But What formula if any do u use.??

    For Square feet? I dont want to be the dummy doing aerations for 60 a pop and pissing my local lco's off. Who I get along with great right now.

    So 100 for about 1/4 to 1/2 acre
  8. Tobe Lawn Care

    Tobe Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39


    I always tell the customer what to expect. Anything not buried over 3" will be damaged. Our main problem is the cable/phone lines. The first time I did a condo assoc. 7 years ago I bet I hit 15 out of 39 units. Not good, but everything was laying right under the sod. Unless that guy is a moneymaker for you (full time customer) I would tell him you aren't responsible.

    By the way, that leaf vac works awesome.


  9. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 988

    Having the customer mark the yard is a good idea. It should make them responsible, not you. As far as breaking lines, I have a somewhat different situation than you, as I market aeration in irrigated yards plus I can repair the damage at the same time. Due to lousy installers in my area, people have come to expect damage and want someone to repair it.
    This customer that is giving you a hard time, just get the code specifications for irrigation installation in that area. Usually depth is one factor, and it should be below surface grade, usually 6-8" - and there is your response.
    However, if this customer is a money maker rather than a occassional account, I'd say fix it for free with a smile on your face.
  10. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    I'm thinking I need to include a disclaimer with my estimates, explaining in writing what to expect and that anything not buried deep enough to avoid the cores, and not marked by the customer, isn't my responsibility to fix. And make them sign it first. However, I'm not sure if this will turn people off. I try to verbally explain it to the people, but obviously it's not sinking in to people that I'm not responsible.

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