How Much Does Lawn Aeration Cost?
Annual lawn aeration encourages grass to develop strong, healthy roots by increasing access to air, water, and nutrients. Ranging from $75 to $193, with a national average of around $129, it’s a cost-effective way to ensure a lush, healthy lawn.
- Typical Range: $75 to $193
- National Average: $129
Aerating the lawn often involves removing narrow plugs of soil to reduce soil compaction, which in turn allows grass roots to spread out, grow stronger, and improve the health of the lawn. Alternate aeration methods include poking holes in the lawn with spikes or applying an aeration liquid over the yard. According to HomeAdvisor, most landscape companies offer aeration services ranging from about $75 to $193 for a 10,000 square foot lawn, with $129 being the national average. The cost is small compared to other yard maintenance costs, such as installing a sprinkler system or having a tree removed, and aerating is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy lawn.
Factors affecting lawn aeration cost include the size of the lawn—a lawn company may charge a base fee in addition to a square-footage price. At the low end, a small yard may run as little as $45 to aerate, while aerating a large lawn could run $370 or more.
Additionally, lawn aeration costs will vary from community to community, based on the going price of labor, contractor competition, and the distance a landscaper must travel to reach the home. These unseen costs can add (or reduce) the average price.
How to Calculate Lawn Aeration Cost
Several variables affect calculating the cost of aerating a lawn, and, in most cases, a rep from the lawn company will want to take a look at the property before quoting a price. You can opt to aerate the lawn yourself by either renting the equipment, buying it, or spraying on a liquid aerator product, but for many, it’s worthwhile to have a professional company come out and do it.
- To calculate an estimated cost for aeration, consider the size of the lawn first. Lawn aeration runs an average of about $0.05 per square foot. For an idea of how much a lawn company will charge for aerating your lawn, multiply the square feet of the lawn by the company’s price—call to get the exact amount. For example, if the lawn is 8,000 square feet, you can probably expect to pay between $72 and $160, based on average national square foot costs.
- Ask about set rates. Some landscape contractors offer flat rates for standard size yards, ranging from around $75 to $193 on average, depending on the company. A set rate will often apply if the landscaper knows the area and is familiar with the sizes of the yards in a specific development.
- Find out if the company charges by the hour. Companies that charge by the hour will likely charge a minimum hourly fee, such as 2 hours, and then assess an hourly fee after that. A company is more likely to charge by the hour if the lawn is unique somehow—if it’s unusually steep or if other obstacles are present that might slow down the aeration process. Hourly rates average around $38 to $66 per hour.
- Factor in any additional services you may want to have done at the same time. Aeration is often done just before reseeding a lawn, and by having both services done at the same time, you may be able to ask for a package price that would be less than if you had each service performed individually.
- Consider travel time. For those living in rural areas without nearby professional lawn services, a company may have to travel from a neighboring community, and the company may charge a travel fee.
With all the likely costs in hand, you’ll have a good idea of what lawn aeration will run.
Factors in Calculating Lawn Aeration Cost
The cost of lawn aeration services can vary widely from community to community, depending on yard specifics and the community in which you live. In the hunt for low-cost solutions to lawn- care needs, consider the following factors that will likely affect the final cost.
In any community, the cost of living and the going price of labor are determining factors in lawn- care services. In general, the cost of lawn-care services in rural communities can be significantly lower than in busy metropolises because the cost of living is lower. In addition, local taxes and business fees can fluctuate, which will affect the price since those costs—considered “overhead”—are passed on to the customer.
The larger the yard, in general, the lower the square-foot cost of aerating. Lawn companies will often calculate their square-foot charges in increments. For example, it may cost $0.02 per square foot to have the first 1,500 square feet of lawn aerated, and after that, the price may drop to $0.01 for the next 10,000 square feet. When it comes to massive yards—measured in acres—the overall cost will usually be quite a bit lower per square foot; expect to pay between $480 to $650 per acre for aeration.
Aeration equipment requires a smooth, clear yard to operate efficiently. If the lawn company has to rake up bushels of dry leaves or clear away fallen limbs and debris, there may be an extra service charge added to the bill.
Within the range of $75 to $193, core aeration sits at the top of the scale, while spike aeration runs approximately $82 because spike aerators are less expensive to buy and maintain. Liquid aeration is near the bottom of the range scale. Liquid aeration can be combined with fertilizer treatments, however, which can raise the price.
Pricing and Packages
The cost of aeration can often be negotiated down by purchasing a package deal. This might include buying a maintenance package that provides for fertilizing every other month, reseeding in the fall, and applying an herbicide in the spring. By packaging the different services together, some lawn care companies might offer a cut of up to 20 percent. However, this figure will vary depending on the company and the promotions and packages they might offer.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Even without buying a seasonal service package, you can save money by having the company perform an additional service on the same day they aerate. Lawn companies will often offer a discount price for two services done at the same time because their workers are already at the residence, so it’s more cost-effective for them to stay and perform another lawn treatment service. If the lawn needs any of the following services, having them done simultaneously will often save on individual service costs.
Having the lawn fertilized costs $50 to $80 for a whole lawn, or $170 to $260 if combined with aeration. If you’re planning on having the yard fertilized anyway, you’ll save money by having both services performed at the same time. Applying fertilizer is often done immediately after aeration so the nutrients can seep into the holes in the lawn.
Aeration and seeding also go hand in hand. In many regions, it’s standard practice to overseed a lawn after aeration—depending on climate—so reseeding is often combined with aeration. The average cost for overseeding and aeration for a 10,000 square foot lawn costs $200 to $325.
While aeration will overcome some of the problems of thatch—the layer of dead organic material at soil level—if the thatch is thicker than 1/2 inch, it might be better to have it completely removed before aerating. Expect to pay an additional $10 to $20 per 1,000 square feet to have the lawn dethatched. Dethatching is typically done prior to lawn aeration.
Tree and Shrub Maintenance
Having shrubs and small trees trimmed as part of a lawn maintenance package that includes aeration could add as much as $300 to $750 to the bill. Having an entire tree removed could cost an additional $1,300 or more, depending on the size of the tree. While many lawn companies perform general tree and shrub trimming, they may not offer tree removal services, which require specialized lifts.
On average, basic lawn services, such as mowing, can add $153 to $185 to the cost of lawn aeration. This is where having a whole-season lawn maintenance package can really cut down on costs, however. If the same company performs all necessary lawn-care services weekly or bi-weekly, it could save over having the same services contracted individually.
Navigating steep slopes with an aerating machine will take longer, so expect to pay a higher fee to have those spots aerated. Lawn companies who typically charge a set rate may switch to a per-hour rate if a substantial part of the lawn is sloped.
Type of Soil
The type of soil can also affect lawn aeration costs because lawn companies may recommend spike aeration for sandy soils, which costs an average of $0.03 per square foot. For other soil types, such as clay-based or loamy, core aeration is still the method of choice.
Lawn Aeration Cost: Methods
The cost of lawn aeration will vary by the method the lawn company uses. Arguably, the type of aeration that offers the most comprehensive benefits—core aeration—will cost the most because it requires the use of a machine that actually takes plugs out of the existing soil and ejects them on the lawn. This requires a more complex device, which translates into a higher equipment investment. Spike aerators operate on a simpler basis and cost less than core aerators.
Liquid lawn aeration involves spraying a solution that contains enzymes over the grass. The enzymes go to work decomposing thatch—the layer of thick, dead grass that collects at the base of the grass blades—at ground level. Thatch hampers air circulation and reduces drainage. Liquid aeration can run as little as $21 for a small (1,400 square feet) lawn, or $0.015 per square foot. Liquid aeration is cheaper because it doesn’t require heavy equipment, but it won’t alleviate soil compaction as core aeration will.
Spike aeration is the practice of driving 4- to 5-inch spikes into the existing ground to increase drainage, but no soil is removed as with core aeration. It’s well suited for lawns with sandy soil, which don’t compact as clay-type soils do. It costs more than liquid aeration but less on average than core aeration, ranging from about $65 to $120 for a 10,000 square foot lawn.
The equipment required to dig and remove plugs from the existing lawn is typically more expensive than either spike aeration equipment or lawn-spraying equipment, so the end cost is higher, which is reflected in the average 12 to 20 percent increase over the cost of spike aeration.
Lawn Aeration Cost: Signs Lawn Aeration Is Necessary
A lawn can go from lush one year to splotchy with bare patches the next if thatch builds up, reducing air circulation and the ability of the grass roots to absorb fertilizers and nutrients. For the best-looking lawn, aerating, dethatching, fertilizing, and other maintenance tasks should be performed regularly before lawn problems arise. Any of the following signs may indicate the yard is overdue for aeration.
Puddles Form After Rain
Water should soak into the soil within approximately 30 minutes after watering the lawn or after a light rain. If water is standing in puddles after that, it could result from overly compact soil or a heavy layer of thatch.
Grass Dries Out Quickly and Is Thinning
Just because water isn’t puddling doesn’t mean it’s soaking into the ground. Heavy, compact soil with a dense layer of thatch will keep water from soaking in, so it may run off during watering or rain, making you think the ground is saturated, but the soil at root level may be dry. If the soil beneath isn’t getting enough water, the grass will dry out quickly after a rain, but the lawn itself may show signs of thinning.
The Soil Is Too Hard
Clay-based soils are heavy and slick when wet but turn rock-hard when the soil dries out. Aeration is often the first step in rescuing a lawn that has too-hard soil. Core aeration will remove hard soil plugs, and then the lawn can be top-dressed with compost, which will filter into the holes, increasing air and water availability and improving soil structure.
The Thatch Is Too Thick
Brown spots in the lawn may be the result of overly thick thatch. Separate the blades of grass and pinch up a small amount of thatch—it’s the brown, spongy layer just above the soil. If it’s thicker than 1/2 to 3/4 inch, it’s time to aerate or have the lawn dethatched.
There Is Uneven Growth
In a healthy lawn, grass grows uniformly and evenly. Areas of dense thatch and compacted soils, however, won’t allow the grass to grow as well in those spots, so the lawn looks uneven and may even appear to be slightly different shades of green.
You Have a High-Traffic Lawn
A lawn is meant to be enjoyed, but if yours is the site of the weekly neighborhood touch-football game, or you often entertain on the lawn, it’s more likely to suffer from compaction problems. Having it aerated will go a long way toward keeping it soft and lush.
Lawn Aeration Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
For those looking to save money on lawn maintenance costs, a core-type lawn aerator can be rented from an equipment rental store for about $90 per day. A spike aerator will typically rent for less. An equipment deposit of about $150 may also be required, but you’ll get that back when you return the machine.
A truck or trailer is necessary for hauling an aerator, and depending on the size, it can weigh over 100 pounds. A few aerators are gasoline-powered, so you’ll need to purchase fuel as well to operate one of those. For those unfamiliar with running aerators, figure on spending 30 minutes to learn how to use it correctly. The aeration process itself can take a few hours, depending on yard size.
While it’s doable, DIY aerating usually isn’t as efficient as aerating done by a professional familiar with the machine and who can load, unload, and transport the equipment with ease. A pro is also more likely to spot additional lawn problems and suggest a plan of action before the issues can develop into something more expensive to remedy.
How to Save Money on Lawn Aeration Cost
Having a beautiful lawn shouldn’t break the budget—and it won’t if you stay on top of lawn watering and maintenance tasks. Keeping turf grass healthy is easier—and cheaper—than trying to restore it to a healthy state once it’s weak or damaged, so take the time to water, mow, and fertilize on a set schedule. Still, annual lawn aeration is one more expense you have to pay for to maintain a lush lawn. To get the best bang for your buck, try these ideas.
- Get more than one estimate. Let the lawn company know right off the bat that you’re looking for multiple quotes. When a company understands that you’re going to be contacting other companies, they’re more likely to offer you a better deal. Even if you’ve been using the company for lawn care in the past, let them know that you expect their best price and that you’re getting additional estimates.
- Negotiate a package deal. It makes good sense for companies to lower their prices on specific services if a customer is willing to hire them for additional projects. You may be able to save up to 20 percent off the standard price for lawn aeration by negotiating a deal with the company for ongoing lawn care such as mowing, tree-trimming, and overseeding.
- Check the company website for specials. Companies are always trying to attract new customers, and a great place to find discounts is on their website. Holidays such as Father’s Day, Independence Day, and Memorial Day are prime times for companies to offer limited-time specials or introductory prices. You may find printable coupons or be able to save money by scheduling a lawn-care service online.
Questions to Ask About Lawn Aeration
A lot of lawn-care nightmares can be avoided just by asking the right questions before hiring a company to aerate or perform other lawn maintenance tasks. Begin your search by looking online for “aeration near me,” then ask a few more questions to help you determine the right company for your needs.
- How long have you been in business? Companies that provide quality services are more likely to stand the test of time. When someone is happy with the care and service of a lawn company, they’re likely to hire them the next time they need yard maintenance, and that’s how companies stay in business. That doesn’t mean a new company just starting out won’t do a good job, but having years of experience is a good indicator that the company is reputable.
- Why is your price higher than your competitors? While you want to save money, you don’t want to get shoddy service. Fly-by-night companies may underbid aeration jobs, collect half the money upfront and then do an unsatisfactory job, or never even show up. A reputable company will explain that they’re licensed, do quality work, use only high-quality seeds and materials, and guarantee your satisfaction.
- Is there anything your company does differently? This question opens the door for the lawn company to brag on itself a little bit, and it offers potential customers a glimpse of their work ethics. Companies that feel they provide superior services are more than willing to point out how they put the customer first or how they’re always on time to complete projects. If now is not the best time to aerate, a dependable lawn company will explain why you should wait instead of aerating at the wrong time just so that they can get paid.
- Do you have a fee chart? While a lawn company will usually want to give you an individual quote for lawn aeration cost, they often have brochures or charts that list other services and basic costs. If so, it’s an indicator that they’ve carefully analyzed their costs, and they’re less likely to try to take advantage of you.
- What other lawn services do you offer? The more comprehensive the company’s range of services, the more likely they are to do a good job. Aerating a lawn isn’t a complex or challenging project, but if the company offers a wide range of services, they are more likely to spot potential lawn issues and more likely to use quality equipment.
Keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful is an ongoing commitment. You can water and fertilize regularly, but if the soil is hard and compact or the lawn develops a thick layer of thatch, aerating is vital to keep it healthy. For those who are just starting to develop a comprehensive lawn-care plan, a few questions are to be expected.
Q. What’s the main disadvantage of aerating?
Lawn aerating offers many more benefits than drawbacks, but some homeowners don’t like the look of the core plugs that most lawn companies leave on the lawn. Just wait a couple of weeks, and they’ll decompose and won’t be visible anymore.
Q. How often should I aerate the lawn?
For healthy lawns, once a year is sufficient. Lawns with heavy clay soil will benefit from aeration twice per year.
Q. What is the best time of year to aerate the lawn?
Aerate lawns just before periods of rapid growth. For warm-season grasses, that’s usually in late spring or early fall. For cool-season grasses, aerate in early spring or the fall. Avoid aerating during times of lawn stress, such as high temps or drought.
Q. How do I know if my lawn needs to be aerated?
Water standing in puddles, uneven grass growth, and thinning grass are all signs it might be time to aerate.