What to Ask Aeration and Overseeding Providers
10 Questions That Make a Difference
What to ask aeration and overseeding providers can be the make it or break it factor when getting quotes on a vital service for your lawn. Aeration and overseeding is one of the busiest times of the year for lawn care professionals. It is something most fertilizer clients also receive, but it is also something that many homeowners either doing the fertilizer themselves or looking for a new company branch out with.
Additionally, far more companies will offer aeration and overseeding services than those that provide fertilizer because of the lower licensing requirements. When so many homeowners are getting quotes on aeration service, overseeding service, or both, and when so many companies are offering the service to homeowners, it is valuable to know what to ask aeration and overseeding providers. The following list gives you 10 questions that you should ask everyone who gives you a quote for aeration and overseeding as well as the “right answer” and the “red flag.” Have a question of your own that hasn’t made this list? Comment below, and we’ll tell you how that conversation should go!
1. What kind of aeration are you offering?
The right answer: “Core aeration and/or liquid aeration.” The purpose of aeration is to improve the porosity of the soil system. Core aeration is a tried and true method for this and the current standard in most areas, but liquid aeration is a growing alternative that can be more effective for established lawns. A company that offers both is a step ahead of its competitors. If you are seeking core aeration, look for a company that does a double or triple pass to maximize on the amount of cores in the lawn.
The red flag: “Spike aeration” or “It’s all the same.” First, spike aeration is known to do nothing to improve your lawn’s aeration, and it can even make a compaction problem worse. Second, no professional should mislead you to think that the method doesn’t matter. Every lawn is unique and should be given proper consideration to determine the best method for the greatest success.
2. What equipment are you using for aeration and overseeding?
The right answer: “Riding and walk behind aerators, riding spreader/sprayers or push spreaders for seed.” A company that is well established in this service will have access to equipment that is specialized for the work being done. More and more companies prefer riding equipment that is more efficient and can produce better results, and this is the optimal answer. However, especially for small yards, walk behind and push equipment can be a great choice too.
The red flag: “A tractor or mower attachment.” Unless you have several acres of maintained turf, tow behind aerators and spreaders can be a big risk to your lawn. Most suburban residential properties are too small to justify this equipment, which increases the risk of damage from the equipment and limits the coverage and success of the service.
3. What is the quality of the seed that you use?
The right answer: “The highest quality available.” This is a big one when planning what to ask aeration and overseeding providers. This answer needs to be backed up with how seed quality is measured, but the point is that you should not settle for average or low quality seed. Phrases like “blue tag certified,” “guaranteed germination,” “multi-blended,” and “zero percent weed seed” all indicate that the seed is high quality. Any weed contamination, even 0.01%, will introduce thousands of weeds to your lawn. A company using clean seed may be more expensive than other options, but it is absolutely worth the investment.
The red flag: “Whatever we get at the home improvement store” or “this specific name brand.” Seed quality and pricing shifts season to season, so experienced professionals know not to go with a default brand like Kentucky 31 by default. Additionally, this is can be a giveaway that the quality of seed may be lacking. Most recognizable name brands like this have weed contamination, it can be hard to find blue tag seed at most home improvement stores, and these answers are only communicating source rather than quality.
4. Who will be performing my service; will it be subcontracted out?
The right answer: “A trained member of our team.” You at least want to hear something along these lines when you plan what to ask aeration and overseeding providers. Aeration and overseeding is an involved and costly service, and it is important to know that the person on your property will know what they’re doing and is accountable to the company you’ve hired.
The red flag: “It depends.” Obviously a representative won’t be able to tell you the name of the person who will be doing your aeration and overseeding services, but it’s common for large companies to subcontract their aeration and overseeding work. A lot of the time the quality of work done in subcontracting situations is of no noticeable difference, but it can mean greater disconnects in quality assurance, scheduling, and accountability.
5. What is your company’s experience in turf management?
The right answer: “We have trained agronomists and/or licensed applicators on staff and also offer a successful fertilizer program.” In essence, find the companies that understand lawn health and soil science. Aeration and overseeding is a service that fits under the turf management umbrella, and you want a company that understands how to cultivate a healthy lawn and can act as a resource for long term turf success.
The red flag: “We don’t do fertilizer, but….” Lawn care companies that focus on mowing and property maintenance are undervalued professionals and usually have a basic knowledge of turf management, but without licensing and experience in fertilizer and the balance of biology, geology, and chemistry that growing a lawn requires, they are unlikely to provide you with the resources and information needed to maximize on your aeration and overseeding.
6. What is the window of time in which you do aeration and overseeding?
The right answer: “We follow the soil temperatures, not the calendar.” Grass seed does not care what month it is. It just needs a habitable growing environment with the right temperature and moisture. The company that gives you this answer knows their stuff! The ideal window for overseeding can swing significantly year to year based on climate changes. You want to know that your seed is put down after prolonged summer heat waves and before regular frosts and freezes set in.
The red flag: “From August to the end of the year.” If you hear that your aeration and overseeding could be done as early as the middle of summer or as late as the start of winter, this may not be the best situation for your lawn. While dormant overseeding can still be successful, it is more risky, and this is usually an indication of a company that is oversaturated with waitlisted services.
7. Will you notify me prior to the service?
The right answer: “Of course!” Aeration and overseeding almost always requires preparation work of some kind on the homeowner’s part. As a result, the more notification the company can give you of the service being scheduled, the better. This is one of the most common questions on the list of what to ask aeration and overseeding providers.
The red flag: “No” or “We can try.” This may be a sign that the company is not experienced or established enough to schedule work in advance. Because the window for aeration and overseeding is several months wide, In order to water the yard a couple of days prior, flag sprinkler heads, or even install topsoil, most homeowners need notice of when their service will be done.
8. How should I care for my seed after it’s applied?
The right answer: “We can tell you exactly what to do.” An experienced company, especially one with turf management experience, will be able to give you detailed step by step instructions on proper overseeding aftercare. Whether it’s watering schedules or how long to wait before mowing, this is a vital part of the overseeding process, and a good company will want it to be done the right way.
The red flag: “It doesn’t matter” or “Do what you normally would.” It definitely matters! Watering schedules for mature lawns in the summer are very different from those for seedlings in the fall. A lot of companies inexperienced in turf management don’t even know that the lawn should rest for at least a few weeks before mowing again, let alone that that first cut should be done with special considerations. Don’t pay someone to set you up for failure.
9. Do you provide starter fertilizer or lime with aeration and overseeding?
The right answer: “Definitely!” Starter fertilizer and lime are the common treatments associated with aeration and overseeding applications. The former helps new grass develop, and the latter settles into the soil more quickly when it can enter through the cores. A strong turf management company has these resources available through their fertilization program and can help you with any short term or long term fertilizer needs.
The red flag: “We don’t do those treatments.” Because anyone can do aeration and overseeding, many companies that only offer mowing and even individuals that just aerate and seed to make extra cash are very unlikely to be licensed to apply fertilizer. Not only does this mean they are inexperienced in turf management, but it also means your options for supplementary or long term services are limited.
10. Why should I go with your company for this service?
The right answer: “We perform high quality work, understand lawn and soil health, and provide you with resources for long term success.” Aeration and overseeding is an investment and should be an informed decision, and that’s why you’re here reading about what to ask aeration and overseeding providers. As such, you must keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Not all companies and not all services are the same. Invest in the company that clearly has their act together and is well reputed in your area.
The red flag: “You’ll save money.” Let’s say it again: you get what you pay for. While you should always seek the best value, value is determined by quality, not just cost. The price of aeration and overseeding is directly related to the quality of seed being used, the amount of time spent performing the service properly, and the professionalism of the equipment and provider. The lower the cost, the more these variables are compromised, and the less likely you are to be happy with your results.
Knowing what to ask aeration and overseeding providers when they give you pricing for service, whether it’s over the phone or in person at your home, can make a great difference in your short term and long term lawn success. Plan ahead and make sure that all of your questions are answered before you make a decision. Do you have something else to add to the list of what to ask aeration and overseeding providers? Let us know, and call us today if you’re in RVA and want to speak with us about our Picture Perfect services!