As part of my 2023 lawn care plan, I hired an aerator machine so that I could get over my 80m2 lawn without spending too much time doing it manually.
I did it in February, and that’s mainly because I was keen to get going with my lawn care improvement plan asap so it will look really nice really early in the season.
But timing is everything when it comes to aerating and thus getting the most out of your investment.
So in this post, I’m telling you everything about my own experience. I’ll tell you the different options, costs and things to think about when planning your own hire. I’ll even discuss a few machine operating challenges I had.
And at the end I’ll address the big question – was it worth it?
Planning Your Aerator Machine Hire
So, what are the different hire options and how much does each one cost? P.s. this post isn’t sponsored
I did find that nearly all the hire shops I found charge the same price. But, the biggest thing to note is that the price you see on the web page is never the actual price you pay.
Firstly it’s normally displayed excluding VAT, then they add it on. Then a weekend is always more expensive because you have to hire it for the full 2-3 days.
Here’s a breakdown of the actual costs when hiring an aerator
If you hire for one day in the middle of the week, here’s what I paid (approximately)
- 1 day Tool Hire = £75 Excluding VAT
- Damage Waiver = £15 exc. VAT
- Total inc VAT = £108
Alternatively, if you hire it over the weekend you’re probably looking at more like this:
- Tool Hire = £120
- Damage Waiver = £20
- Total inc VAT = £168
I found 2 or 3 options for hire and they all came up about the same price (between £100 and £120). These are the companies
Warning! They also take a big deposit.
HSS Rang me and asked if I still wanted to take the machine on the day I booked. Yes, I said. They said oh so that will be a £235 deposit.
WHAAAT? I said. Nowhere on the website did it say I’d have to pay that much as a deposit.
Of course, the tool itself is worth of £3,000 so in a way you can understand th deposit but they should definitely telling you beforehand if they just expect people to have that sort of money in their account
Choosing Collection or delivery
I decided to collect it myself and therefore save around £20 by not having it delivered.
If I’m honest, that was was bad idea. It took 3 of us to get it in the car – me and 2 members of staff. I did manage to get it out of the car myself the other end but it wasn’t without a challenge and a bashed knee.
Actually, I rang HSS and asked them to come and collect it so it meant I didn’t need to get it back in the car myself. Or better still, I didn’t need to ask my Mrs to help me.
What I did notice once I’d got it out of the car and into position is that the machine is held down with weights at the front. So, I could have taken them off and it probably would’ve been much lighter. Every day’s a lesson.
So, when’s best to hire an aerator?
To be honest, I’ve almost given up on finding the exact right time because it’s virtually impossible to get it perfect.
Ultimately, the ground needs to be not too wet but also not hard and dry – is that even possible in the UK?
So, you probably want a period in March or April when there’s been a short dry spell but temperatures haven’t been too high.
Do it in the early afternoon, here’s why.
Also I recommend doing it in the early afternoon because the morning dew would have dried up and the evening due won’t have set in yet.
If the soil is too wet, then it won’t come out of the hollow tines. However, if the ground is too dry, it won’t even go in the ground.
Operating your Hired Aerator machine
HSS are good because they send a video in an email before you get the machine. The video tells you exactly how to operate it. If it’s the first time you’ve used a petrol machine, I suggest you make sure it’s on a slow setting first.
I didn’t actually realise it had different speeds based on how ‘open’ the throttle was. So I ended up trying to slow it down myself by pulling it towards me. Needless to say, the next day my back felt like it had done a gym session. Then I realised if I close the throttle slightly it will slow right down and the speed can be adjusted manually. Derrrrr!
If you do it early in the season and your ground is very dense, then it’s likely you won’t get much cores out of the ground and instead it will just put some holes in the ground, This isn’t necessarily a problem but if you really want cores, then I suggest choosing the right time of year, right weather and right time of day.
Go over the lawn a few times
As you’re paying over £100 for the day you should definitely try to get as much as possible from your machine. Therefore it’s a good idea to go over the lawn 2-3 times.
Here are the routes I took round the lawn
- Up and down on the first run
- Diagonally on the second run
- Left to right on the third run
That way, you’re covering all parts of the lawn and potentially getting it deeper if you hit the same hole twice.
Finally, would I do it again and is it worth it?
Personally, I think £100 is pretty steep for a day’s hire but given these Aerator machines are around £3,600 to buy then there’s not much else to do. As a home lawn enthusiast, you probably ain’t gonna buy one put it that way.
On the other hand, if I look at how difficult and time consuming to do hollow tine aeration manually, then it’s definitely worth it. I reckon I saved myself 1-2 days worth of aerating – which I just don’t have the patience to do.
That said, I definitely wouldn’t hire it every year.
I’m going to be using the spike roller for the next couple of years, then maybe get one again in the 3rd year.
That way I’ll still be spiking the lawn in the meantime and it’s normally the 3rd year when I need to do an extreme Spring Renovation.
So hopefully that’s helped you make a final decision. Oh yeah don’t forget to do an overseed afterwards too – here’s the exact steps to do that