Core vs. Liquid Aeration

by Alec McClennan, on September 14, 2023

Core Aeration Plug

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!

Reasons Your Lawn May Need Aeration

  • The soil in your yard is compacted.
  • Water collects in spots or all over the lawn after irrigation or rainfall.
  • Water retention is low and it appears that most of the water is running straight off your lawn when you try to water it.
  • There are many worn areas in your lawn, possibly from 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 just as vital for the soil and your lawn’s root system as air is for you and me!

Soil Thatch

Proper coring also leaves the plugs on the lawn, 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 with the heavy clay soils in much of the Midwest, 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, however. It is best to wait until the cooler weather, Spring or Fall, arrives and the soil is a bit more moist. Read more about Core Aeration.

Core Aeration Illustration

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, if not more, than a traditional Core Aeration. Liquid Aeration is an excellent tool because it can loosen the soil deeper than Core Aeration can.

There are a few Liquid Aeration products on the market. At Good Nature, we are always testing and using new materials, however the same main ingredients remain in any good Liquid Aeration product. First, some sort of wetting agent is needed to get the materials deep 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. We are recommend Liquid Aerator and Thatch Master, both available on our store website. Read more about Liquid Aeration.

Grass Roots Liquid Aeration

Which 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 have a less immediate impact on your soil, but the effects are longer lasting and cumulative, so your result gets better 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. This will help the Liquid Aeration penetrate the lawn more effectively, allowing it to work better and faster.

Technician Spraying Residential House

Contact Us for more information about Aeration or improving your soil.

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Topics:Organic Lawn CareChoose A Lawn Care CompanyLawn Aeration


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Good Nature is an Organic Lawn Care company dedicated to providing you with the best services and information to have a healthy, chemical-free lawn and landscape. 

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