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Is your lawn looking dull and lifeless? The reason could be compacted soil restricting water and oxygen from penetrating through to the lower layers of your lawn. This is most often seen in areas with clay soil since strong clay bonds create higher compaction, which in turn leads to the lawn not getting the natural nutrients it needs.
Other signs of compaction include weed growth, bare spots, and water pooling. Keep in mind though that sandy soil is unlikely to experience this phenomenon.
You can keep your lawn healthy and lush through a simple process called lawn aeration.
What is lawn aeration?
Lawn aeration is a process in which a tool called an aerator is used to make holes in compacted soil in order to improve soil drainage and increase oxygen supply. This, in turn, increases the presence of worms, microfauna, and microflora, ensuring your lawn grasses grow lush and healthy.
Can you aerate your lawn yourself?
Yes, you could use the DIY approach to aerate a lawn, although depending on the size of the lawn, it could take a first-timer an entire day to complete the process.
Alternatively, you could hire a professional lawn aeration company to do the job for you. Let’s compare lawn aeration costs of both approaches, so you can decide which works best for you.
DIY lawn aerations: Costs
There are two approaches to lawn aeration, based on the type of soil you need to work with. If you live in an area with clay soil, what you need is core aeration. If the soil isn’t as heavily compacted as clay soil, you will follow spike aeration. Core aeration is more effective than spike aeration since it removes plugs from the soil and does not further compact the soil.
However, irrespective of which you follow, you will first need to begin with some prep work.
Your lawn will need a certain amount of prep work before you begin the actual process of aeration. This prep work, however, is pretty simple. Remove weeds and dead grass from the lawn. Then mark the area that needs to be treated and water the lawn, so the soil can be easily penetrated.
While this part does not have a cost attached to it, it will take time and labor, so it’s worth accounting for.
Buying or renting an aerator
This is going to be your biggest expense in the entire process of lawn aeration. You could choose to buy a lawn aerator, which may increase your costs initially, but will ensure future aeration cycles require you to only invest in overseeding and fertilizing.
If you don’t think you’re ready to invest in an aerator yet, you could just rent one from your local Home Depot or garden supply shop.
If your lawn size is 5,000 square feet or smaller, what you will need is a manual core aerator. These handheld aerators have two or three spikes, so they wouldn’t really be ideal for larger lawns. You could buy one of these from a large garden supply store for between $25 and $30.
If the size of the yard is larger, you can buy a larger aerator that attaches to the back of your lawnmower for around $200.
If you wanted to rent an aerator, you could rent one for around $90 for a full day from Home Depot, or $60 for four hours. Of course, you will also be expected to pay a deposit to cover the cost of damages and late returns, but that amount will be refunded in full just as long as you return the machine on time and damage-free.
Another cost you will need to factor in when renting an aerator is the cost of transporting it to your home. Unless you or a friend have a truck or a trailer, you will need to pay for the cost of getting it transported. Renting a trailer from U-Haul for the job will cost you between $15 and $25 for the day.
Overseeding and fertilizing
While you are aerating the lawn, it may also be a great time to oversee the lawn and add some much-needed fertilizer to the soil. Overseeding is adding fresh seeds to an existing lawn, making sure you have a healthy lawn. Expect this to add another $150 to your annual lawn aeration budget.
If you don’t want to put in the hard work yourself and would much rather hire a professional lawn care company, expect to spend between $15 and $17 per thousand square feet of lawn. This means it would cost around $150 to aerate an average lawn of 10,000 square feet. Expect average costs to vary between $250 and $300 including seeds and fertilizer.
Professionals from a lawn aeration service take around 30 minutes to aerate a 10,000 square foot lawn.
Lawn aeration costs pro tip
As with all home improvements, lawn maintenance is a year-round activity. However, some times of the year are better suited than others for aerating lawns. This depends on the type of grass in your lawn, local weather conditions, and how much moisture your lawn has received.
The general rule of thumb is to aerate your lawn when there is most root growth. If you have warm-season grasses on your lawn, May and June would be the best time of the year to aerate. On the other hand, fall is when you ought to aerate lawns with cool-season grasses.