How Much Does Lawn Aeration Cost?
Lawn aeration helps grass develop strong, healthy roots by increasing access to air, water, and nutrients. Lawn aeration costs between $100 and $350, with an average of $140, which makes it a cost-effective way to ensure a healthy lawn.
- The typical cost to aerate lawns is $100 to $350, with a national average cost of $140.
- Lawn size and slope, soil type, aeration method, location, and pricing packages can all affect how much a homeowner pays for lawn aeration.
- Homeowners may consider lawn aeration if any of the following are affecting their yard: pooling water on the lawn, thin or dry grass, hard soil, excessive thatch, uneven growth, or high traffic.
- Lawn aerator rental is an option for homeowners who want to do this job themselves; however, the cost, time, and expertise required to do so may make it more worthwhile to hire a professional.
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 Angi, most landscape companies offer aeration services ranging from about $100 to $350 for a 10,000-square-foot lawn, with $140 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 aeration service 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 a large lawn could run $400 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 to (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. It may be possible for a homeowner to aerate their lawn by 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, homeowners will want to consider the size of the lawn first. Lawn aeration for a yard of less than 1,000 square feet runs an average of about $0.10 to $0.35 per square foot. The cost to aerate a larger property may be calculated per acre, often between $480 and $650. For an idea of how much a lawn company will charge for aerating a lawn, homeowners can multiply the square footage of the lawn by the company’s price—but they’ll want to call to get the exact amount.
- Homeowners are advised to ask about set rates. Some landscape contractors offer flat rates for standard-size yards, ranging from around $120 to $175 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.
- Homeowners can also 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 $40 to $70 per hour.
- It’s recommended that homeowners factor in any additional services that may need to be done at the same time. For example, aeration is often done just before reseeding a lawn. In some cases having both services done at the same time may make it possible to negotiate a package price that would be less than if each service was performed individually.
- Finally, homeowners will want to 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 charge a travel fee.
Having all of the likely costs in hand will provide homeowners with a good idea of how much lawn aeration will cost.
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 the hunt for low-cost solutions to lawn care needs, homeowners will want to consider the following factors that will likely affect the final cost.
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 $0.10 to $0.35 per square foot to have a lawn under 1,000 square feet aerated. That per-square-foot cost may decrease for a yard of 5,000 square feet. After that, the price may be charged as a flat rate for yards 10,000 square feet or larger. When it comes to massive yards—measured in acres—the overall cost will usually be quite a bit lower per square foot; homeowners can expect to pay between $480 and $650 per acre for aeration.
Navigating steep slopes with an aerating machine will take longer, so homeowners can 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.
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.
Within the range of aeration costs, core aeration sits closer to the top of the scale at $200, while spike aeration runs approximately $85 because spike aerators are less expensive to buy and maintain. Liquid aeration is near the bottom of the range scale at $75. Liquid aeration can be combined with fertilizer treatments, however, which can raise the price.
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. Homeowners can look up “lawn aeration service near me” to see what local companies are charging.
Pricing and Packages
The cost of aeration can often be negotiated down if a homeowner purchases 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, it’s possible for homeowners to save money on lawn care costs 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 homeowners money on individual service costs.
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. Homeowners can expect to pay an additional $40 to $70 per hour for this service.
Having the lawn fertilized costs $50 to $80 for a whole lawn. If the yard is already going to be fertilized anyway, it will probably cost less to have aeration and fertilization 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 to aerate and overseed a lawn is $100 to $160. Seeding a new lawn costs about the same as overseeding an existing one.
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 for a homeowner to have it completely removed before aerating. Homeowners can 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.
Mowing can cost $50 to $200 in addition to the cost of lawn aeration. This is where having a whole-season lawn maintenance package can really cut down on costs. If the same company performs all necessary lawn care services weekly or biweekly, it could save over having the same services contracted individually. Homeowners may want to consider hiring a lawn mowing service that also provides 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 $450 to $1,400 to the bill. Having an entire tree removed could cost an additional $1,800 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.
Types of Lawn Aeration 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.
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. On average, core aeration costs around $200.
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 about $75 for an average-size lawn. 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 it is with core aeration. This type of aeration is 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, often coming in around $85 for a 10,000-square-foot lawn.
Do I Need Lawn Aeration?
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 performing other maintenance tasks should occur regularly before lawn problems arise. Any of the following signs may indicate the yard is overdue for aeration.
Water should soak into the soil within approximately 30 minutes after the lawn is watered 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.
Thin or Dried-Out Grass
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; this may make it seem like 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.
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.
Too Much Thatch
Brown spots in the lawn may be the result of overly thick thatch. Homeowners will want to 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.
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.
A lawn is meant to be enjoyed, but one that is the site of the weekly neighborhood touch-football game or frequent parties is more likely to suffer from compaction problems. Having it aerated will go a long way toward keeping it soft and lush.
Lawn Aeration: 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 it will be refunded when the machine is returned.
A truck or trailer is necessary for hauling an aerator, which, depending on the size, can weigh over 100 pounds. A few aerators are gasoline-powered, so homeowners will also need to factor in the price of fuel to operate one of those. Homeowners unfamiliar with running aerators will want to plan 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 able to 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. Homeowners will want to carefully weigh the pros and cons of attempting this job themselves versus hiring one of the best lawn care services.
How to Save Money on Lawn Aeration Cost
Having a beautiful lawn shouldn’t break the budget—and it won’t as long as watering and maintenance tasks don’t fall by the wayside. 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. The cost to aerate a lawn is one more expense to pay in order to get a lush yard, so try these ideas to get the best bang for your buck.
- 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 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. It may be possible 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. Look for printable coupons or deals that allow customers to save money by scheduling a lawn care service online.
- Skip the tools. Lawn care equipment adds up quickly. In some cases it may cost less to schedule professional lawn care service than purchase the proper tools and do it yourself.
- Make your own compost. Reusing food and lawn scraps to enrich the soil will reduce the need for commercial fertilizers and extend the time between services such as overseeding and aeration.
Questions to Ask About Lawn Aeration
Whether homeowners are hiring a well-known lawn care service or a local family business, a lot of lawn care nightmares can be avoided just by asking the right questions before selecting a company to aerate or perform other lawn maintenance tasks. Homeowners will want to begin the search by looking online for “aeration near me,” then asking a few more questions to help determine the best fit for their lawn care needs and budget.
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you make one or two passes when aerating the lawn?
- Why is your price higher than your competitors’ prices?
- Is there anything your company does differently from other companies?
- Do you have a fee chart?
- What other lawn services do you offer?
- Do you recommend overseeding at the same time as aeration?
- What results can I expect from this service?
- How should I care for the lawn after the service?
Keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful is an ongoing commitment. A homeowner 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, including the following.
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. They’ll just want to 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?
The best time to aerate lawns is just before periods of rapid growth. For warm-season grasses, that’s usually in late spring or early fall. For cool-season grasses, it’s best to aerate in early spring or the fall. Homeowners are advised to 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.