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First Aerator Choice

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by TruSomethingOrOther, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. TruSomethingOrOther

    TruSomethingOrOther LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    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!
  2. Ducke

    Ducke LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    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.
  3. TruSomethingOrOther

    TruSomethingOrOther LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    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
  4. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,956

    Get a Plugr aerator......awesome machine!
  5. TruSomethingOrOther

    TruSomethingOrOther LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    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.
  6. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    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.
  7. TruSomethingOrOther

    TruSomethingOrOther LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    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.
  8. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Well I’m a fan of the Plugr 850 and I own 2 of them but I’ll 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 I’m 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 800’s But the cost of the Ryan new is pretty high.

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

    When I showed up to aerate with the Lawn Solutions unit a few people complained, dang where’s the plugs...didn’t 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 21” 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 I’ll 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 21”. 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 3” 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 can’t get more money for running my Plugr ....I’d 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 I’m not doing any more guilt based Lawn Solution double passes unless I’m getting paid more for it.

    The aeration rates in this area thanks to the bigger national companies is no where near 2.5X – 3X the mow rate. Application Co. here will often run $29.95 or $39.95 bundled specials for lawns I won’t touch for less than $65. My pricing floor is roughly 1.5X the mow rate.

    I’d 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.

  9. TruSomethingOrOther

    TruSomethingOrOther LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    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.
  10. MisterBreeze

    MisterBreeze LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    Classen split drive

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