Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aerate THIS

On Saturday I was taken by surprise when Tom informed me that he wanted to aerate our lawn that day.

I didn't even know what that was.

Or how much it would totally SUCK.

Let me explain.

Aerating is good for a lawn - it improves grass rooting, the effectiveness of fertilizers, and increases air and water flow. A lawn that gets brown quickly when dry (like ours), will be improved by aerating (we doubt the lawn has ever been aerated before). An aerator will pull out plugs of soil and deposit them on top of the grass, and is generally done during the Fall.

And Fall had pretty much almost completely slipped by us by the time Tom remembered that we'd been planning on aerating our lawn this year. So on Saturday Tom mowed it really short, we raked up the thatch, and finally watered it in preparation for the aerating.

On Sunday we woke up bright and early, and after enjoying breakfast outside on our front porch and soaking up the day a bit (it really was a beautiful and perfect day!), we headed down to Home Depot to rent an aerator.

We were told how to work the monster, hauled it home and a neighbor's grandson helped Tom unload it out of the car (seriously - that thing weighed like 300 pounds!). After spending a few minutes fiddling with it and wondering why it wasn't working, the grandson wandered over and promptly showed us the switch that was flipped to OFF. Ooops. We flipped it to ON and the monster started right up with a roar.

Time to get to work....

Tom went in a grid pattern - he did the whole lawn first in horizontal passes, then went over them in vertical passes, which is the best way to get every bit of your lawn during the aerating process.

He did the front (stopping for several breaks - it was hard work!), and moved to the back, while I was busy doing some other home improvement projects... (more on those later!).

And then I heard him inside the house.

"Um, the thing's broken."


The chain had slipped off, and he was only halfway done with his first round of passes in the backyard.

We called up Home Depot and spoke to an unnecessarily rude employee in the Tool Rental department, who told us that nobody could come out and fix it - we'd have to somehow lug all 300 pounds of it up a wet and slippery hill, somehow lift it into the car and drive it all the way back to the store.

We weren't very happy.

After 10 minutes of sweating and heaving, we managed to get it up the hill on the side of our property, and asked our one non-elderly neighbor if he could help us get it into the car. Then we drove back to Home Depot.

Once we got there, we talked to the same very rude employee in tool rental, who told us that the "chain falls off all the time", and if we would wait he could put it back on in "15 minutes". I read the rental agreement papers, and it specifically said that Home Depot only rents out quality tools to it's customers. QUALITY. I feel like if there is some problem a piece of machinery has, then the machine should be professionally fixed before it's rented out to customers. That's just my thought and opinion on that subject. But either way, the machine that broke down on us halfway through wasn't quality if it broke down.

I also think that employees should show a little professionalism.

When we said that we didn't want to wait for it to be fixed and lug it all the way back, and so just wanted our money back, things went from bad to worse. We explained that our only neighbor who could help us get it out of the car was long gone by now (off hunting for the rest of the day), that we didn't even get our whole yard done, and really that this shouldn't have happened in the first place. So we would like a refund please (we also thought to ourselves, but didn't say, that the chain would probably just fall off again as soon as we lugged it all the way home, since it "happens all the time").

The employee called his manager, who wasn't there, and then called several other people, who also didn't answer the phone. Then he said he didn't know when his manager would be back (who would give us our refund).

He asked us if we would pay for half of the rental fee since we got half our yard done (this was after he had already promised us a FULL refund), and that way we wouldn't have to wait for a manager.

Um, you already told us you'd give us a full refund. We'll wait - that's fine.

He was not happy. He called up his manager again - this time the manager answered.

"Yeah, I got some guy here who doesn't wanna to pay for his rental. The chain just fell off, but he still doesn't wanna pay." He said this very loudly right in front of us. With an attitude.

The manager came and refunded us back our money, and we left.

And we will never go back to that Home Depot. Again. Ever. That experience was just horrible - we were rented a broken machine and not treated very nicely at all. We're still upset about it. Next time we need to rent something, we'll just buy it, thankyouverymuch. And I don't mean for this post to just be a rant about Home Depot and our horrible experience - I practically grew up in Home Depot (my parents always go there), and there's a billion other bloggers out there who love it, too. But, like all chains, not all Home Depots are the same. From now on, we're exclusively Lowe's customers while we live in this area - we've found that the Lowe's here always has helpful employees and is very reasonable when it comes to returning broken machinery/items. It's always a pleasant experience, and the employees are very professional. The only downside? No tool rental. Sigh.

On the upside, we aerated our lawn! After we returned home, we promptly fertilized the yard and overseeded it. Since we don't have a sprinkler system, we bought a timer-valve-thingy while at Home Depot.

We hooked up two hoses to it - one in the frontyard, one in the back.

We hooked up some hoses and sprinklers and set the timer - and wahlah! Automatic watering for both yards, even while we're gone. It's pretty nifty, and works wonderfully. We love it! We'll water the yard for the next 2 weeks to give the new seeds time to grow, and try to refrain from mowing.

So there's our little weekend adventure. Although we managed to aerate our lawn for free (due to that lovely incident), we figure that next time we'll just cough up the extra $30 (the rental was $60) and pay someone else to do it. Live and learn, that's our motto! So what about you guys? Do you aerate your lawn every single year? Do you hire someone or DIY? Or do you let your lawn live-and-let-live?

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  1. Sorry about your horrible experience, that can ruin a day!! You guys made the best of it though. I'm not sure about aerating(is that bad that I have no clue?) our lawn! lol!

  2. I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience, and yes... not all home improvement stores are alike! I seem to have the opposite experience in my area than you have... can't ever find what I need at Lowe's, but Home Depot is right on the money. Helpful service every time.

    I make a point of it to really call attention to bad customer service. Word of mouth is still a tried and true form of repeat customers... good or bad!

  3. Yeesh- sorry about your horrible experience! That is really really rude. You can always try Diamond or some other rental-specific places next time you need a big ol' monster machine. Also, I recently rented a huge rototiller, and they let us borrow the ramps for the day to get it in and out of the vehicle. Your HD should have done the same thing!

    And I also recently bought a watering timer- best $48 I ever spent. Even better would be a whole underground system, but for the price of some hoses and the timer, you really can't beat it.

    Cheers to your lawn!

  4. I've actually never aerated the lawn in the 20 years we've been here, but we do weed and feed regularly. Kudos to you guys for standing your ground.

  5. Ugh - I HATE bad customer service! I mean I understand it is not the employee's fault, but it definitely isn't your fault. You should be treated with respect. You are paying for that worker to be employed, so they should treat you accordingly - plus it's a little thing called common decency and the Golden Rule but I'm convinced almost nobody follows these things anymore.

    That being said - this topic is interesting because I have never heard of it. I'm learning all sorts of things about home ownership which will be valuable when I actually have a home!

  6. Our neighbor had a guy that had aerated his lawn for a few years, and so when he came to do it this year, he jut did ours too. He charged us $20 and did a great job! I will ask me husband for his name, if you guys would maybe want to use him in the future. And did you like the timer thing for watering your lawn? We could really use one since we don't have underground sprinklers!

  7. Thanks for stopping by, guys!

    @Amanda - Too bad, it looks like there's no Diamond rentals place in Omaha. Although maybe next time we need to rent something we'll try either borrowing it or seeing if there's somewhere else we can go. I agree - the water timers are awesome!

    @Jen - Twenty dollars sounds like a steal! We would very much be interested in your aerator guy if he works in the Omaha area. As for the water timers, if you don't have an inground sprinkler system, the timers are the next best thing! I'm officially sold on the things. :)


  8. I will get his name for you, as he is in the Omaha area! And thanks for the sprinkler timer tip! I can't wait to get them!

  9. Ugh. Just ugh. Things happen and mistakes get made, but MY GOODNESS what matters is how they're corrected. I don't blame you for not going back there.



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