After a long summer of hot sunshine, even the best irrigated and cared for lawns may have brown patches, withered grass, and compacted soil. Now that fall has arrived, it’s time to renew your customer’s lawn by preparing their soil and roots for the upcoming seasons with aeration. It’s best to aerate two times a season, once in the spring and again for fall renovation. Aeration is an important effective method to recover, prepare and improve the overall appearance and health of your customer’s lawn. However, this method tends to be overlooked since most homeowners are unaware of what aeration is or its benefits, and some contractors may not have the necessary equipment or offer the service. Aeration is beneficial in the fall, but it’s also important to remember the arriving cooler temperatures will also help your soil germinate seeds. Remember to consider turf renovation during this time of year and make sure you’re up to seed on best practices for turf renovation and seed.
But, why is aeration important? And how can it be beneficial for both homeowners and contractors?
Why Aeration Is Important
Aeration is a process that removes hundreds of plugs of soil all across your customer’s lawn. This is important because as a result of hard rain, sun exposure, and excessive use, the soil/roots in your customer’s lawn can become compacted. Once compacted, it becomes difficult for the roots of their grass to have access to what they need the most in order to stay healthy and thrive. Compacted soil results in shallow roots, no access to moisture, and become unable to grow new grass. The end result from this will lead to brown patches and withered grass. Additionally, the lack of aeration can affect more than just their lawn. Since water cannot be absorbed by the soil, it will flow across to the most convenient spot. That spot can happen to be a basement window, or a crack in the foundation wall that can lead to major damage such as flooding. These are the results from not aerating your lawn, but what are the results if you do? The following are the beneficial results for aeration:
- Reduced soil compaction. Soil compaction blocks air, water and nutrients from reaching your customer’s lawn root systems. Ultimately this causes dead spots, patches and or thinning of the soil. Reducing soil compaction will allow for the root systems to stay healthy and prevent these negative outcomes.
- Improved air exchange between the soil and the atmosphere. This is important as your soil/roots require oxygen in order to stay healthy and be able to do their job of gathering water, and nutrients.
- Enhanced soil water uptake. Once aerated, your soil will be able to absorb water and prevent water runoff, such as flowing across to a basement window, and puddling.
- Improved fertilizer uptake and use. With the openings created, fertilizers, seeds, and nutrients will have direct contact with the soil. This direct contact with the soil is beneficial as it helps put your customer’s lawn on the fast track for a thicker, lusher growth.
- Strengthened turf grass roots. Since your roots will have better access to nutrients they will grow deeper into the soil. The deeper your roots grow the healthier they become, and this results in enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance which prepares their lawn for the upcoming cold and hot temperatures.
- Improved resiliency and cushioning. Overall, your lawn will become stronger and be able to handle incidents of stress, or overuse. It will also be able to handle extreme heat or lack of water.
- Enhanced thatch breakdown. Thatch is layers of dead grass that can accumulate on your customer’s lawn and can build up a thick layer. Breaking these layers of dead grass down is important as thatch can prevent the lawn’s healthy portion of grass from receiving rain and nutrients.
Aeration is your solution to keep your customer’s lawn’s appearance healthy along with saving them from any unnecessary expenses. Better yet, it can help you grow your profits.
Make A Profit With Healthy Soil
If you don’t already provide the additional service of aeration for your customer, now is your chance to change that. A majority of homeowners who do not hire a lawn care professional are unlikely to aerate, while those who employ a lawn care company are more likely to purchase this additional service. Being able to provide a service most homeowners are unaware about can give you an advantage over your competitors. You can inform your customers, and be the expert they rely on. Best of all, adding this service to your portfolio is low cost.
Equipment rental companies, lawn and garden stores, and distributors often rent aerator machines. Central offers equipment rental service, ask your local branch to learn more. This makes for a great opportunity to save money by simply renting an aerator instead of having to buy equipment. There are three main types of aerating equipment, spike aerators, slicing aerators, and core or plug aerators. Your best bet would be the core or plug aerators as they’re preferred by lawn professionals. Also, rather than poking holes or slicing into the soil, core or plug aerators are preferred since they remove plugs of the soil and deposit them on top where they break down. This type of aerator is more effective since the soil won’t be left in the ground.
Once you have your equipment ready, it’s important to be aware of when to offer this service to your customers. Depending on your location, turf grass can be aerated in the spring and fall. Lastly, how can you efficiently aerate your customer’s lawn? Check out these six tips to effectively aerate:
- First Things First
Before you get started, make sure the soil is moist enough. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to aerate soil that is bone dry. Aerating the day after a rain shower or watering your lawn the day before is advised.
- Save Your Energy
Most aeration machines cover only a small percentage of soil surface per pass, so make multiple passes over the most compacted areas. Save resources (and your energy) by leaving unaffected areas alone
- Dry It & Break It
The excavated soil plugs should be allowed to dry and then broken up to give your lawn a uniform, clean appearance. Break them up by running them over with a lawn mower or pounding them with the back of a rake. (Your lawn mower blade may need to be sharpened after breaking up the plugs.)
- Don’t Worry About It
An aeration myth is that if you apply a pre-emergent herbicide on your lawn in the spring, aerating your lawn will destroy the herbicide “barrier.” This is not true — research shows that aeration will not affect crabgrass control or weed prevention.
- Don’t Stop Here
After aerating, it’s important to continue basic lawn care practices such as proper fertilizing, mowing and watering.
- Be Aware
Mark out the irrigation heads so as not to damage them. This will cause extra work and an extra cost to you the contractor, which will cut into your profits. You can provide your customers with marking flags so they can mark the heads before you arrive, and you can collect them after the aeration has been completed.
Another efficient method to help keep your grass green and healthy is over seeding. As aeration removes the plugs of the soil it leaves room for improvement, literally. Overseeding is the planting of grass seed directly into the existing turf. It helps develop new grass varieties to resist diseases and insect attacks. Also, as a lawn thickens with the new seed growth it’ll be prepared to avoid weeds and provide the homeowner with a beautiful lawn. Remember to always provide overseeding along with your aeration services, and make a profit with healthy soil!
Educate Your Customer
Finally, remember to set expectations for your customers and educate them on when aeration will be necessary for their lawn. Visible signs that are simple to catch on their lawn are thatch, or dying grass, and brown patches. Also, a method to find out if their lawn needs to be aerated is the screwdriver test. If they can easily put a screwdriver or shovel in their lawn’s soil, outside of potential thatch issues, their soil is fine and they can likely hold off on getting their lawn aerated. If your customer does this task with great difficulty, their soil likely needs to be aerated.
Unable to find equipment rental or overseeding solutions?
Rely on Central to help. Central provides equipment rental for projects that are not part of your regular day to day jobs. If aeration was not an additional service you provided before, now is your opportunity to do so! We also provide high-performance fertilizers tuned to the specific needs of the regions we serve, along with easily and accurately applied combination fertilizer and with weed or insect controls. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!