Getting started in aeration

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by cbene, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. cbene

    cbene LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    Large company in the Houston area considering aeration as a new service to offer our clients. I am looking for any feedback on all aspects of offering this as a service. I.E. cost, billing, equipment choices, etc. Please respond.

    Thank you
  2. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,925

    Not sure what the going rate in your area is. I would do research on that.
    As for set up costs.....
    How large are the turf areas that you are talking about????? 3000? 80000? This matters as to what you need to purchase.
    Tow behind? Walk behind.
    What do you have for equiptment now that will also work for aeration. I.e. Tractor to tow a tow behind? Trailers. Trust me you do not want to be lifting a push aerator all day in to a bed of a truck, no matter how low the gate is.

    Now for what I know about my area.
    Aeration is my most profitable area.
    Rental for aerator is 36 an hour. where does this come in if I own my own equiptment? I know that I can sell a 1000 sq ft for a min of 36 dollars.
    I have a 25 stop fee and 10 per 1000. So a 4000 sq ft turf is 65. 4000 sq ft would take from unload to load about 30 min.
    Then you add over seed at 10-15 a thou. and it takes you 10 min to seed area of 4000. there is another 40 - cost of 15 max.
    Do some research on what size properties you are going to target and let me know and I will direct you to equiptment to test before buying.
    Good luck.
  3. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Messages: 1,796

    Like Sildoc said there are many different types of aerators, shatter tine, solid tine, open spoons, tow behind, walk behind, cam driven,hydro jet. What type of soil will you predominantly be working with? Hard clay is what we have here and mostly people go with Ryan machines or Bluebirds with open tines on small areas. Large areas depend on the use of the turf. High traffic with severe compaction like a sports field guys use cam driven types hitched to a tractor PTO and they get the long tines. Golf courses use similar but more tines per sqaure foot and if sand base shorter length tines. Got to find out the going rate is and find the travel speed on the model you want.
  4. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,125

    I use a ryan walk behind (for tight areas) and a 48" tow behind (spoon tines).

    I hardly use the walk-behind even on small lots (just gated areas). If they can be cut with a ZTR then I can aerate with a tow behind. What I do for the corners is back into them.

    I charge $12 per 1,000 sq ft. and have a $60 (5K) minimum. I charge another $12 per 1,000 sq ft. for fescue blend seed. It takes us about 45 minutes to double aerate and seed 10K. I pull the aerator with a Hustler Z. I aerate at mowing speed the first pass, and balls to the wall on the second pass.

    The majority of our lawns are 5-15K. The tow behind has no problem on small lawns. If you can cut with a rider you should be able to aerate with one. The only exception is a tow behind is bad on good sized hills.

    I hope some of this helps, but remember to check prices in your area.
  5. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    Why did you stress the "spoon tines"....didn't want anybody to get confused with spikes? I am just curious. I am considering a pull-behind aerator and was wondering if there is something I should know. I know the difference, but just curious.

    cbene, if you are looking to buy something used, I have an old Bluebird model with a 4hp Honda.....$600.
  6. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,125

    because someone else mentioned other types first. So I just wanted to be clear. Spikes should only be used for seed job, not aeration.
  7. BobwithECLC

    BobwithECLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    Can you tell us more about how you use the Z to pull the aerator? What brand of aerator is your pull behind? I really like this idea and think it is a fantastic labor saver.
  8. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,125

    First you need a ZTR with tractor style hitch (Usually only $50 or so), tractor, or 4 wheeler etc. Small ZTR's with week hydro pumps should not be used.

    He is a great starter Aerator for $500 shipped. Don't let the cheap price full you. It can pull great cores, but it isn't as heavy built as some others. I recommend Model-48-W.

    Heres is a top of the line tow behind which runs closer to $2 grand, but can be found painted green at Lesco for a little cheaper.

    With most tow behind aerators you add weight for better penetration. I use solid concrete blocks and a couple of tie downs to secure them. The amount of weight depends on the soil condition.

    Whatever brand you buy, make sure that the tines are independent for better turning. Both aerators mentioned above are OK.

    Don't ever try and get by with a cheap homeowner unit from Lowes, or home depot. They don't work good at all and pull smaller and less cores.

    Once you hook it up you just let it follow you around.
  9. BobwithECLC

    BobwithECLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    Thank you very much for the links and the advice. The less expensive one seems like it will do the job and it will turn a profit much quicker than the 2000 one from clausen.
    Thanks again
  10. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,125

    The most important thing is the tines. Most of the commercial Aerators use the same tines. The other thing is how many tines and how close. The more expensive ones will last longer because the frames and wheels arms are much stronger. The cheaper one has a strong enough frame, but the Wheel's and wheel arms are a pain. The latch that hold the wheels down are always bending out of place. You aerate with the wheels up, and just lower them to transport or to cross a sidewalk or driveway.

    I love using a tow behind because it allows me to double aerate very fast and effortless. On really small lawns I make several passes and really open them suckers up.

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