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I was planning to rent a core aerator this fall to aerate my 10,000 sq ft lawn in Massachusetts but I stumbled upon a liquid aerator/dethatcher. Does the liquid version actually work or is it sub par compared to the mechanical core aeration of pulling up plugs and making plug holes?

I stumbled upon the liquid option (LazyMan Soil Doctor) while looking into Midnight KBG that I want to overseed with. The specific liquid amendment claims to aerate, dethatch, and adds microbes and has fertilizer mixed in.

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According to GoodNature website:

What is Core Aeration?

Grass roots need oxygen to function and in our heavy clay soils here in Ohio, getting enough oxygen to the roots can sometimes be difficult. With core aeration, we poke holes into your soil and pull the cores out. Aeration helps lawns with thatch problems. It loosens the soil to let nutrients work better; plus, it helps your lawn make the best use of watering because an aerated lawn will retain more water with less runoff. You do not want to aerate in the summer, though. It is best to wait until the cooler weather (spring/fall) arrives and the soil is a bit more moist. More information about Core Aeration

What is Liquid Aeration?

Take the battle against thatch a step further and what you get is liquid aeration. As the name suggests, this is a liquid application that can be as effective as or even more than a traditional physical aeration. Liquid aeration is an excellent tool because it can loosen the soil deeper than core aeration can.

There are some liquid aeration type products on the market. We are always testing and using new materials, but the basics are they contain a few main ingredients. First, they contain some sort of wetting agent to get the materials down into the soil. A wetting agent can be made from natural materials like the yucca plant, or from a more synthetic soap-like material. Either is probably fine. Secondly, the product should contain food for microbial life, typically humates and maybe kelp. Finally, a good liquid aeration product should contain enzymes or bacteria that are specifically designed to break down thatch. Sometimes the thatch decomposition product is in a separate package and requires its own application. At the time of this writing, we are recommending Aerify Plus and Biological Dethatcher, both available on our store website. More information about Liquid Aeration What to Choose - Liquid or Core Aeration?

Core Aeration will have a more immediate impact on your soil and the look of your grass. But, the effects are not very long lasting. The liquid aeration will NOT have such an immediate impact on your soil but the effects are longer lasting and accumulative so they build over time. The exception would be if your soil is very compacted or you have a significant amount of thatch, which would be anything over 1/2 inch. In that case, we would recommend using both Core and Liquid Aeration to help make a long term impact. You should have the Core Areation before the Liquid. This will help the Liquid Aeration penetrate the lawn so that it can work better and faster.

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Liquid aeration I vote for simple, straight forward core aeration. For one thing this is another chemical addition to a sort of stable ecosystem, your lawn. Core aeration does more than 'loosen' soil, it physically adds more 'room' and top dresses by taking soil and roots out of the lawn, allowing them to disintegrate. I am not seeing the benefit if core aeration has to be done first in addition to the chemicals. Plants, especially lawns have absolutely no problem growing in clay. Core aeration done at least once per year is all one needs. Just can't see the value in this liquid at all! I've got to go look to see the contraindications and exactly how this stuff 'aerates' but right now I can not see any benefit whatsoever. After reading a bit about this stuff I definitely say forget it! Core aeration is really easy to do even on 10,000 sq. ft. of lawn. Rent two and have two people aerating. You only have to guide the aerator, no stress. This other stuff I still need to look up the chemistry to see what is happening but like they say this is similar to smearing shampoo on your lawn. If there was a way to make lawns look better with less 'work' I would have invented it!! Grins!

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  • One note is to make sure you are getting a core aerator - one that pulls plugs out of the soil. The spike aerators (which I've seen rented as core aerators by less informed vendors) merely poke holes in the ground. This does open up the surface, but also increases compaction at the edges of the holes. – That Idiot Aug 1 '17 at 11:37
  • I agree! Those spikes actually cause more compaction! – stormy Aug 1 '17 at 21:12

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