How much does it cost to aerate a lawn?
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Lawn Aeration Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
A healthy lawn is the green welcome mat surrounding a home. It is the only plant material in the landscape that provides aesthetics, function, and recreation. While we enjoy many of these benefits, a healthy lawn requires maintenance. Over time, weather combined with traffic from lawnmowers, children, pets, and even vehicles push air pockets out of the soil, reducing its structure to a compacted substrate that prevents the absorption of water and nutrients. This results in grass that cannot thrive and grow.
Aerating a lawn is a common practice, but not one you must do at regular intervals, such as mowing and fertilizing. Rather, it is a solution to a problem. When your lawn starts showing symptoms of stress associated with compacted soil, start looking for an aeration professional. Aerating during fall and spring is recommended, with fall being ideal. At this time, the weather is less extreme, preventing additional stress to an already-struggling lawn.
The national average cost range to aerate a lawn is $80 to $250. Most homeowners pay $140 for spike lawn aeration services for a typical lawn that is ¼ acre. However, prices vary widely, from as low as $50 for a 1,000 sq.ft. lawn or as much as $1,550 for fertilization, overseeding, and aeration for a 1-acre lawn.
Lawn Aeration Prices
|Average Cost to Aerate a Lawn
|National average cost
What Does Aerating a Lawn Do?
If you notice your yard looking dull or failing to thrive, aeration can help bring it back to life. Aeration removes physical barriers to the essential air, water, and nutrients that grass needs to survive and flourish, and it can be accomplished using various methods to suit your budget. No matter which method you choose, the basic principle is the same. Aeration allows air, water, and nutrients to be absorbed by the roots of the turfgrass, resulting in a healthier, more vigorous lawn.
How Is Lawn Aeration Charged?
There are several billing methods in which aeration services can be charged. Also, there are several factors to consider when companies choose between these rates. There are special situations where aeration services might be billed on a flat rate or an hourly rate. If you prefer to pay by the hour, first be sure that the company provides this type of billing. Even if they do, many companies have a minimum fee. For instance, you may be required to pay for two hours of work even if the process does not take that long. For hours beyond that, an hourly rate will be charged.
In most cases, companies charge by the hour when the lawn has unique features. For example, an overly steep yard that needs aeration may be priced based on the hours it takes to do the work. The same applies if obstacles are in place that make it take longer to finish the aeration work. The typical hourly rate ranges from $40 to $80 an hour. It is best to find out if a company charges this way. In many cases, a minimum fee for a certain time, such as two hours, will be charged, and an hourly fee is added on top of that.
Another billing method is the flat fee. Any average-sized lawn costs the same as another similar one. For instance, if several people have lawns that measure 10,000 sq.ft., they could expect to be charged a flat fee that typically falls between $120 to $400 for the entire process. In most cases, the cost is based on the size of the lawn and extra tasks that are done.
Keep in mind that some companies bill a flat fee while others bill per square foot. When it comes to larger lawns, there may also be flat fees, or charges may be calculated per acre. It is essential to speak with the company who will be doing the work to determine how costs are calculated to be sure you get the best price for your aeration service.
Lawn Aeration Cost per Square Foot
The national average aeration cost per sq.ft. is $0.02 to $0.10. For small yards, the cost to have the lawn aerated is usually based on the square footage. When it comes to larger yards, charging aeration per acre or a flat fee is more cost-effective than per square foot.
|$20 - $50
|$20 - $100
|$50 - $250
|$100 - $500
Aeration Cost per Acre
An acre is 43,560 sq. ft. and most professionals charge $480 to $650 for the cost to aerate 1 acre, which averages $565 per acre for the cost of yard aeration. Aerating acreage takes much longer, resulting in a higher cost. It requires a tractor with a pull-behind aerator as walking the property would take too long and be labor-intensive. Not every yard service has access to this expensive equipment so expect to pay a little more for acreage aeration. If the size of the yard is 1/4 of an acre or smaller, some professionals charge a flat rate for aeration. This is typically about $100 to $150.
|$90 - $130
|$120 - $170
|$240 - $325
|$480 - $650
Aeration Prices by Type
There are three types of aeration: liquid, spike, and core. Core aeration is often recommended as the most effective type because it physically removes the soil, relieving the compaction issues affecting the lawn. The aeration service cost varies based on the type of aeration chosen. See average costs for each type in the table below:
|Cost per Sq.Ft.
|Cost for 10,900 Sq.Ft.
|$0.008 - $0.015
|$120 - $130
|$0.02 - $0.04
|$130 - $150
|$0.08 - $0.35
|$150 - $170
The average cost of liquid aeration is $0.008 to $0.015 per sq. ft. For bigger yards, the price ranges $120 to $130 for an average lawn of 10,900 sq. ft. Liquid aeration is the least expensive option because it does not involve the use of heavy equipment. This aeration type uses the chemical ammonium lauryl sulfate to break down the soil to create air pockets in the lawn. Since it is a liquid, it can be applied over the entire surface of the lawn with a sprayer rather than just every few inches offered by mechanical methods.
To have a lawn aerated by the spike method, you will pay about $0.02 to $0.04 per sq. ft. The average cost of spike aeration can also be $130 to $150 for a 10,900 sq. ft. lawn. Spike aeration uses equipment that has solid metal tines to push holes into the ground without removing any soil. This method is best for creating holes in un-compacted soils so that the fertilizer has better access to the roots. Critics of this method point out that it does not alleviate soil compaction because it merely pushes soil down and out, causing additional compaction around the spikes.
Core aeration costs $0.08 to $0.35 per sq.ft. The going rate for bigger yards averages $150 to $170 for 10,900 sq. ft. Most professionals use a machine called a core aerator that employs hollow metal tines to pull small “cores” or “plugs” out of the soil. This process results in holes that are spaced about 3” to 5” apart, 2” to 3” deep, and 0.25” to 0.75” in diameter. This type of aeration is regarded as the most effective because it physically relieves soil compaction by removing the soil in a methodical way, which none of the other methods do. Removing soil permits the roots to expand into the holes where they can access nutrients, air, and water directly. Core aeration beneficially changes the soil surface, creating places for capturing water runoff and gives your grass room to breathe and grow better.
Aeration Cost by Company
The company you select for aeration plays a part in the price you pay. The three largest companies that offer aeration services are TruGreen, Spring Green, and Weed Man. Each company is a top lawn care business that offers various services and plans. These companies are available in many states, but not in all, so it is important to be sure the one you choose operates near you.
|Annual Lawn Care Package Cost
|$500 - $800
|$625 - $1,500
|$650 - $850
Among the most important factors impacting the costs of aeration are the lawn quality and size, preparation work before the aeration process, and whether you include add-ons like fertilizers or seeding. Pricing also depends on the method used for aeration and the lawn’s slope. The slope increases the cost of the project since it takes more work to get the job done. In addition, poor quality soil may be more complicated to aerate, increasing the price.
Your aeration professional can work with you to prepare the lawn for aeration, which increases your cost. Alternatively, you may do it yourself. Prepping for aeration includes several time-sensitive tasks. At least one week prior to using aerator equipment on the lawn, local utility companies must place flags over buried utility lines. One to two days before aerating, apply at least one inch of water to the lawn if it is dry. Obstacles must be removed from the lawn, and all sprinkler heads must be marked.
Most lawn care companies offer add-on services that you might decide to factor into your overall cost. These include applying compost, fertilizer, and grass seed to the newly aerated lawn. While not required, these services are beneficial and will greatly increase your chances of successfully restoring your lawn to a healthy state.
Cost of Aeration and Seeding
Typically, aeration and overseeding cost about $700 to $1,400 per acre for a lawn in reasonable condition. Aeration tipically costs about $480 to $650, and overseeding is around $450 and $900. Overseeding is the process of scattering grass seed over soil and then waiting for it to germinate. Overseeding works with aeration by creating a bed of seeds that increases the chances that the grass seeds will germinate and grow into adult plants. Also, overseeding ensures desirable grass seeds fall into the holes where undesirable weed seeds might migrate.
Fertilizing and Aerating Costs
Fertilizing and aerating a yard keeps them in great shape as long as the process is done at the right time. In northern lawns, the early spring and early fall are the best times. In southern lawns, aerating is typically done in the late spring or the early summer. Aerating the lawn before adding fertilizer is recommended. It provides more oxygen and lets grass roots grow deeper. For an average-sized lawn, fertilizing and aerating tend to cost about $200 to $500. After fertilization and aeration, homeowners can expect to see a difference in their lawns in six to eight weeks or so. If all projects are combined, the cost to aerate, seed, and fertilize ranges from $820 to $1,550.
Cost to Dethatch and Aerate a Lawn
Thatch is a spongy residue that accumulates between the soil and grass leaves. Some thatch is perfectly normal and even beneficial because it prevents compaction and erosion of the underlying soil. However, when excess thatch accumulates, it causes several issues, such as making mowing difficult, attracting insects, and introducing disease problems. Dethatching is an activity best suited for the spring, and many yard care companies combine it with their lawn aeration service. It is a process that should occur before aerating. If the thatch is more than one inch deep, it must be removed in stages, which might take more than one day. The average cost to dethatch and aerate a 10,900 sq.ft. lawn is about $745 to $945, while dethatching alone costs $265 to $295.
Dethatching a lawn may be done in two ways. One is power raking and involves removing a thicker layer of thatch, more than half an inch. Power raking should be done early enough that the lawn has a chance to heal before the dormant season starts. Using a dethatcher is a lighter method of the process and removes less than half an inch of thatch. It is a gentler means of aerating the lawn. The use of a power rake is generally recommended when grass clippings, debris, and leaves become so thick that the surface of the grass is covered extensively.
How to Tell If Your Lawn Needs Aeration
Your lawn will show the signs of soil compaction even before you examine the soil. The grass will not be as green as it once was and might have uneven growth. Water will run off the surface of the lawn and into the street. Or, it might puddle in spots instead of absorbing into the ground. Soil in areas that receive heavy traffic naturally become compacted over time and will show bare spots and areas that are hard and dry. In addition, a buildup of thatch might be present. A quick test for soil compaction is the “screwdriver test.” Push a screwdriver or pencil into the ground to determine if it is difficult to do. Although this isn’t a scientific method of determining the need for aeration, it is a good way to make up your mind about calling an expert. Whenever your yard exhibits any of these symptoms, it is time to hire a professional to aerate your lawn.
The main benefit of aeration is to provide relief to turfgrass trying to grow in compacted soil. If the soil has a healthy structure that allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots, then the grass growing in it will show all the signs of being healthy. In this case, aeration is not needed. Aeration is beneficial when the grass starts to decline, and that decline can be attributed to compacted soil. Also, aeration is a cost-effective way to maintain struggling turfgrass rather than removing and replacing it, which can cost over $8,500 for an average-sized lawn. Other benefits of lawn aeration include improving turf health, reducing thatch accumulation, decreasing soil density, modifying the pH, germinating grass seeds, lowering water runoff, and preparing the grass for winter.
When to Aerate a Lawn
The ideal time to aerate a lawn is when the turfgrass is actively growing, with four to six weeks left in its growing season. However, out of all four seasons, it is best to aerate in the fall because it is the time of year with the lowest prevalence of weed seeds. In other words, punching holes in the lawn to collect water, air, and nutrients provides a nice environment for weed seeds to germinate, which are prevalent in the spring. When aerating in the spring, aim for late spring, when the weeds are growing, but before they start producing seeds. For most United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness growing zones, this is around the Memorial Day holiday.
What to Do Before Aerating a Lawn
You need to consider a few things before having your lawn aerated. Your professional service personnel will be able to advise you on the proper fertilization and overseeding needed. If your lawn is dry, water it one to two days before aeration. Core aerators are prone to clogging, which is more likely to happen on a dry lawn. Conversely, if the yard is saturated from previous rain or watering, do not water it before aeration. The expert may opt to hold off if the lawn is too wet. The homeowner should mark all areas where cable lines, sprinkler heads, septic lines, or other obstacles may be present to avoid damage.
What to Do After Aerating Lawn
To further feed your lawn, add top dressing after aeration. This consists of sand, compost, or topsoil. Each of these materials contains microorganisms that create nutrients to promote growth. Adding a top dressing increases the health of your grass, reduces lawn disease and thatch, and even helps avoid the use of fertilizers.
Adding sand after aeration fills the holes made during the process and helps with drainage. It is best to use masonry or coarse sand to prevent weed growth or debris. Sand is typically used as a top dressing on golf courses to keep thatch from building up and level off low areas. Some professionals use a mixture of sand, topsoil, and compost.
Compost is made of decomposing organic materials and provides pH balance to the lawn. It improves soil structure if the correct recipe is used. This should be a mixture of green and brown materials. Green materials include grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable waste. Brown materials are dead items such as leaves, twigs, and branches. Purchasing compost from a reputable dealer is vital as the nitrogen to carbon ratio must be correct to achieve the best results.
Experts recommend when choosing topsoil that you use one that is similar to the existing soil. Using a less coarse regimen for coarse-textured sand may result in an unhealthy mix. Topsoil smooths out the ground but is absent of organic matter. In this case, adding equal parts of compost to the topsoil brings in the necessary ingredients to grow your lawn into a beautiful green carpet.
Your lawn service may recommend other things that will help with the success of the aeration project. Some experts recommend not removing the soil plugs from the lawn. This is so they can decompose and work their way back into the soil in a few weeks, providing more nutrition and coverage. Additionally, adding fertilizer after aerating aids in building stronger roots and preventing weeds. Also, thin grass may require seeds to mix in with the soil plugs, resulting in a thicker growth.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Tree Trimming and Pruning
Lawn care companies that aerate yards might also offer tree trimming as a service. This costs between $175 and $750. Limbs that are too wide can shade out your grass, diminishing the appearance of your lawn. Selectively pruning tree limbs can increase light penetration to the grass.
After fixing soil compaction problems by aerating, consider maintaining your turfgrass with a lawn mowing service. A good mowing service knows what height to mow your variety of turfgrass to and how to keep it looking nice, which increases the curb appeal of your home. The cost of a lawn mowing service is between $65 and $150 per visit.
Sprinkler System Installation
Aeration can damage sprinkler heads, but if the sprinkler system was installed correctly, a core aerator should not damage the underground pipes. The absence of a sprinkler system can lead to a neglected lawn. The cost of installing a sprinkler system is $4,000 to $7,000.
Adding compost to a lawn makes the soil richer and causes plants to grow faster. Most organic items can make compost, including grass clippings, leaves, and hay. Applying compost after aeration and seeding makes the plants sprout faster. This can be done one to two times a year to boost growth. A cubic yard of compost costs about $25 to $40. If someone is applying it for you, you can expect an additional cost of $100 to $250, depending on the size of the space where the compost will be installed.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- DIY. Aerating your yard as a DIY project might reduce your costs, but it can also increase your level of aggravation and time away from other, more important things. Hiring a professional saves time and increases the probability of a positive result. Do-it-yourself aerating isn’t recommended as it is labor-intensive, requires certain equipment and fertilizer, and could be harmful to your lawn if done incorrectly.
- Overseeding. When overseeding, plan to stay off the lawn for at least one month. Also, be sure to water the grass lightly and frequently to encourage germination and establish the new grass. About two weeks after germination, slowly reduce the frequency of watering to encourage the seedlings to develop deep root systems.
- Weeds. Weeds are a problem in lawns no matter where you live. The best defense against these weeds is dense, healthy turfgrass. After aerating, keep weeds at bay by watering thoroughly and infrequently (on established grass), fertilizing often, and mowing properly.
- Discounts. Choosing to purchase an aeration service as part of a package reduces costs. For instance, you might choose to select a maintenance package that includes reseeding in autumn, fertilizing once every two months, and using herbicide in the spring.
- Is aerating your lawn worth it?
Nearly any lawn benefits from aeration. It smooths the lawn, moves nutrients and water into the soil, reduces soil compaction, and stimulates new grass growth through stimulating the roots of existing plants.
- How long does it take to aerate a lawn?
The estimated time it takes to aerate a lawn is about two weeks, including the preparation time until the end of the recommended follow-up activities.
- How often does my lawn need to be aerated?
Unlike other lawn care activities, such as mowing and fertilizing, aeration is situational. You only need to aerate when your lawn shows signs of soil compaction.
- Can I mow my lawn after aeration?
After aerating and especially if you overseeded, you should stay off your lawn for at least one month. Mow your lawn before aerating, not immediately after.
- Is it better to fertilize before or after aeration?
It is better to fertilize after aeration because the holes will make it easier for the fertilizer to reach the grass roots.
- Should I aerate my lawn in summer?
Summer is not the best time for aeration.. However, depending on the grass type and your climate, early summer is fine. Aerating a lawn during times of extreme heat can cause your lawn to dry out and possibly suffer extensive damage.
- Should you fertilize your lawn after aerating?
Yes, you definitely should. This gives your grass a chance to receive the nutrients it could not access due to the physical barrier of compacted soil.