"Lawn renovation is usually something homeowners are not familiar with," Kinkead says. "Plus, it's a hassle for them. It requires them to rent and transport equipment. So it's a valuable, profitable service that a contractor can provide."
More productive, more profitable
Advancements in product design have made it even more profitable. "Contractors are asking how they can expand their businesses without having to add people," Kinkead says. "They can do that by adding better equipment. They need sturdy, durable equipment."
"Product innovation is improving to help contractors get the job done faster with less fatigue," Pereira adds, while offering the following examples:
- More ergonomic designs
- Hydrostatic drives in aerators, dethatchers and overseeders
- Elimination of the conventional yet cumbersome filling of the center drum, as well as bulky steel weights found on some units
- Fold-down handles for easier transport
- Tilt-up serviceability
- Easy tine disengagement
- Attachments for zero-turn mowers
Contractor Tom Del Conte has taken a real liking to his mower-mounted Grasshopper Aera-vator. "It's very productive for wide-open areas," he says. "Then we use our Ryan walk-behinds for the nooks and crannies. You can't neglect those areas, although some contractors think it's OK to."
Contractor Jeff Roth is also a fan of the Ryan brand. As of late, though, he's developed a fondness for the L.T. Rich ride-on aerator. "This is the first year we've used it—and we've been thoroughly impressed," he shares. "It's a workhorse, and is very versatile. What's nice is that you can also mount a spreader to it. That lets me schedule one guy to do the work of a two-man crew."
The future of lawn renovation
Like the equipment used to provide the services, the lawn renovation business itself has come a long way. Now the question is: Where is it going?
"We are anticipating continued modest growth as homeowners continue to become more educated on the benefits of aeration, dethatching and overseeding," Baudhuin says. "Contractors should stress the importance of these services in both the spring and fall because nobody can predict what the summer will ultimately bring."
"As erratic weather patterns become more of a challenge, the need for renovation will remain on the rise," Pereira reminds. "Lawn care pros are not only pressed to provide lawn renovation services, but are embracing the opportunity to boost their bottom line."
Speaking of lawn care, emerging trends in that business are also creating more opportunity for contractors to cash in on renovation services. "For contractors looking at newer grass varieties and/or shifting to more organic-based lawn care programs, aeration is a huge part of maintaining a successful program," Kinkead points out.
Finally, things like aeration are no longer viewed as just off-season side services. "Turf renovation services are often coupled together to combat a specific problem or to enhance the end result of an application," Baudhuin explains. "In the north, fall has been the traditional time of year to dethatch and aerate. In the south, spring has been favored.
"However, overseeding coupled with aeration has proven to be a successful recipe for enhancing seed germination to thicken turf. Since overseeding is in high demand throughout the entire grass-growing season, the demand for aeration services is up—and the traditional season of application has been expanded."