Core vs. Liquid Aeration

by Alec McClennan, on April 13, 2016


What is Aeration?

More often than not when people have aeration in mind, it is the kind where a machine is used to poke holes in the ground or pull soil-core plugs out of the ground. There are more ways than one to aerate the soil though and, believe it or not, the molehill you may detest so much is actually a sign nature is aerating your lawn for free!

Why Your Lawn May Need Aeration?

- The soil in your yard is compacted.

- Pools of water can be found in spots or all over the lawn after irrigation or rainfall.

- Water retention is low and it seems like most of the water is just running straight off when you try to water the lawn.

- There are many worn areas in your lawn, maybe where there is high foot traffic.

- Your lawn has a lot of thatch built up.


No reason: aerating once annually even if you have none of these problems is seeing as air is just as vital for the soil and your lawn’s root *system as it is for you and me!

Proper coring also leaves the plugs on the lawn (little goose turd looking things) which is important. Some people might find the soil cores of mechanical core aeration unattractive, but they do serve a purpose. Sure, you could rake them up and off the lawn, but they'll break down soon enough on their own and they act as a nice topdressing whether you are planning to seed or not. Hopefully, there are some microbes in that core which will work their way back into the ground, decomposing thatch as they go.

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

Core Aeration Diagram

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

Liquid Aeration Roots


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.

Liquid Vs Core Aeration


Contact us for more information about how to improve your soil or the aeration services

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Topics:Organic Lawn CareLawn Aeration