September has finally arrived and with it comes prime time for fall aeration. In fact, Ryan, a turf renovation equipment manufacturer, has declared Sept. 16 to be the first National Aerate Your Lawn Day.
Aeration is an important step of lawn care that can often be skipped by homeowners and professionals alike, but the practice allows air, water and fertilizer to reach the turf roots by punching holes through the soil to reduce compaction.
Compaction can occur from the normal lawn uses of walking, playing, mowing grass, and this can impede root growth.
Adding aeration as a service requires minimal investment and can help give your company an edge over other lawn care companies that only offer mowing services. Stimulating the growth of the turf can help it to fill in patchy areas and defend against disease.
According to Ryan, studies show that a majority of homeowners who do not hire a lawn care professional are very unlikely to aerate, while those who do employ a lawn care company are very likely to purchase the additional service of aeration.
When it comes to adding on the service, you’ll need to determine whether you will buy or rent your aerator, and this all depends on your cash flow, number of clients interested in aeration and service frequency.
Locations with sandy soils require infrequent aeration due to less compaction, but areas with clay soil will need regular attention.
There are three types of aerators to choose from when it comes to equipment, and the model you select will depend of the type of property you service.
The stand-on is suitable for extensive residential properties or multiple commercial properties and is faster than a walk-behind model. Ryan’s stand-on aerator, the Lawnaire ZTS, can cover 2 ¼ acres per hours while its walk-behind aerator can aerate one acre per hour.
The third option is the tow-behind aerator, which is a better option for larger areas when a towing vehicle is available.
Educating your clients on the benefits of aeration can help sell jobs as they realize they can improve spring green-up and growth, as well as their curb appeal.
When it comes to estimating jobs, calculate your overhead and consider the labor costs, equipment costs and time spent aerating. Knowing what your competitors’ prices are helps, but don’t bid lower than you can afford. Ryan also offers an aeration bid calculator to determine the cost and timing of each job you plan on doing.
You can try to get creative with your pricing strategy, as some landscapers offer a set price per square foot with an upcharge for additional acreage, while others offer aeration as a package along with overseeding or lawn renovation to provide added value to a homeowner.
One of the best ways to get the most out of aeration is to carry out the service one or two days after rain. Moist soil allows for deeper penetration and rain or irrigation after aeration also helps the cores break down.