Liquid vs core aeration: What is the difference?

Mowing, fertilizing, and watering are the three most important lawn care practices that help achieve and maintain beautiful lawns.

But lawns also require essential nutrients to grow healthy, thick, and greener. For this to happen, the nutrients must reach the soil beneath the grass.

The best way of achieving a healthy lawn is through aeration. This process will get rid of soil compaction and allow air and water to penetrate the soil.

Aeration also helps to eliminate thatch, ensuring moisture and other nutrients can reach the soil. Luckily, the two best methods for aerating your lawn are liquid and core aeration.

But what is the difference between the two?

Liquid aeration vs. core aeration: What’s the difference?

Liquid aeration is a lawn aeration method that makes use of biological processes while core aeration involves a mechanical or physical process.

Both methods will effectively supply nutrients to the soil and allow your lawn to grow thick and healthy.

What is liquid aeration?

Liquid aeration involves spraying a liquid that contains microbial food products, enzymes, or bacteria over the lawn.

The microbial elements have essential biostimulants and highly oxidizing material that break down thatch and provide nutrients to the soil.

After breaking thatch, liquid aeration loosens the topsoil and encourages more oxygen and deeper rooting.

An ideal liquid aerator should contain:

  • Enzymes or bacteria to decompose dead grass and materials in the soil and thatch.
  • Microbial nutrients to work on the ground as fertilizers and ensure a healthy lawn.
  • A wetting agent such as synthetic soap material.
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The purpose of a wetting agent is to help the enzymes, bacteria, and microbial nutrients to penetrate the soil.

Does liquid aeration actually work?

Liquid Aeration
Image: Banks Photos

Liquid aeration works. The enzymes and microbes loosen the soil and encourage the roots to grow deep into the ground.

Furthermore, liquid aeration does not disturb dormant seeds and helps to ensure the roots stay intact.

If you wish to try out this method, we recommend using LawnStar Liquid Soil Aerator for the best results.

When to use liquid aeration?

The best time to use liquid aeration is in the spring or fall when the grass is growing thick and fast. The lawn will recover faster during this period.

Be sure to water the grass thoroughly once you spray the liquid aerator. Keep watering for at least two weeks after spraying.

Does liquid aeration work on clay soil?

Liquid aeration does not work well on clay soil. This is because clay soil has small and fine particles that stick together easily.

While the soil will still have many tiny spaces for water, once the water fills in those gaps, it cannot flow through. Therefore, the nutrients sprayed on the lawn will not get deeper into the soil.

The best method to use on clay soil is core aeration.

What is core aeration?

Core aeration involves using a machine called a lawn aerator to punch holes in the soil and allow nutrients and water to pass.

The hollow tine on the lawn aerator removes plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn. As a result, it helps reduce soil compaction and creates a channel that can allow nutrients, water, and oxygen to penetrate the soil.

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Does core aeration really work?

Core aeration works well on compacted soils, especially clay soil. When the machine punches holes into the lawn, it allows oxygen to pass down to the soil.

Enough oxygen in the soil increases the uptake of water and nutrients, encourages respiration, and heightens the activity of microorganisms. As a result, a lawn will grow thick and healthier.

If you wish to try out these methods, we recommend these tools:

Each of these tools works differently to achieve the same results. Your choice will depend on your budget, preference, and the area you would wish to aerate.

When to use core aeration?

Aerating a grass lawn
Image: Michel

The best time to use a deep core aerator to aerate your lawn is in the early fall, especially if you have cool-season grasses.

For warm-season grasses, mid-spring to early summer is the best time. Consider core aerating your lawn when the grass is actively growing to allow quick recovery and fill in the areas where the aerator has exposed the soil.

Is core aeration better?

Core aeration is better if you are looking for an immediate impact on the soil and greener growth of your grass. However, its effects are not long-lasting.

If you opt for liquid aeration, you will not see an immediate impact on the ground. However, the effects of the microbial process are long-lasting and cumulative. Your lawn will get better and grow healthier over time.

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If your yard is made up of heavily compacted soil or has a significant amount of thatch, core aeration becomes a better method than liquid aeration. But if you want to get a long-term impact in such cases, consider doing both core and liquid aeration.

Core aeration will allow the liquid microbial products to penetrate the law more effectively and work faster and better over time.

Therefore, choosing what works best when it comes to liquid vs core aeration is dependent on the above factors.

Does lawn aeration really work?

Lawn aeration works because of the following reasons:

  • Removes small cores of soil from the lawn
  • Helps to reduce soil compaction
  • Promotes more profound root growth
  • Improves air exchange in the ground
  • Enhances the uptake of water in the soil
  • Helps the grass and soil to utilize fertilizer

If you deprive the grass of nutrients, oxygen, and water, your lawn will struggle to thrive in a stressful situation like low rainfall or heat. Also, your lawn will not grow healthy and will not have a green color.

Therefore, aerate compacted soil to help improve cushioning and resiliency and enhance drought and heat tolerance.

Final thoughts

Liquid vs core aeration are two methods you can use to aerate your lawn. Core aeration involves using a mechanical object to punch holes in the soil and allow oxygen, nutrients, and water to penetrate deep into the ground.

Liquid aeration involves spraying a liquid that contains microbial food products, enzymes, or bacteria over the lawn. Both processes will get rid of compacted soil and thatch to allow the roots to grow deeper and the lawn to remain thick, greener, and healthy.