What Is Liquid Aeration for My Lawn?

Liquid aeration is a convenient and effective alternative to traditional core aeration.

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Everything You Need to Know About Liquid Aeration

One important way to develop green, healthy grass is to regularly aerate your lawn.

Traditional aeration involves loosening the soil to allow water, nutrients, air and fertilizer to penetrate deeper. That reduces soil compaction, improves air-to-soil interaction and breaks down excessive thatch. Traditional aeration (also called core aeration) uses a machine to pull up small plugs of soil from your lawn.

In recent years, a new lawn aeration method called liquid aeration began gaining traction.

What is Liquid Aeration?

Unlike traditional aeration that involves removing plugs from, or poking holes in, a lawn’s soil, liquid aeration simply involves applying a fortified liquid solution to the lawn. The active ingredient, ammonium lauryl sulfate, is commonly found in soap. The solution breaks down dense particles in the soil and loosens it up, creating beneficial airways.

Pros of Liquid Aeration

  • No need to buy or rent equipment. An aerator that pulls plugs of soil out of your lawn, the easiest and most effective option, starts at around $200. A machine that simply pokes holes in your lawn starts at $100. You can also buy aerator attachments for your riding lawn mower for $80+. Of course, each of these takes up precious space in your garage or shed.

    You can also go the manual route. Aeration shoes with spikes go for $20+, push aerators for $50+ and a pronged aeration tool you drive into the ground for $30+. You can also rent an aerator. Just know it can be inconvenient because of its size and weight. Plus, HomeAdvisor reports that it costs an average of $64 to rent an aerator machine for four hours.

    Liquid aeration requires none of the above. That’s a plus.

  • Less physically taxing. Core aerators tend to be big and heavy while liquid aeration can be done with just the solution and a hose-end sprayer.

  • No unsightly plugs left in your lawn. Liquid aeration maintains the aesthetics of your lawn.

  • Won’t damage anything underground. Aeration machines can hit sprinkler systems, invisible pet fencing and cable lines. The liquid aeration solution won’t harm anything underground.

  • Can help condition your soil. Some liquid aeration solutions contain beneficial iron, amino acids and more that benefit your lawn.

Cons of Liquid Aeration

  • Doesn’t work as fast as core aeration. It takes longer to see the beneficial effects of aeration when you go the liquid aeration route. (On the plus side, the effects are often longer lasting than with core aeration.)

  • Can be more expensive over the long run. Rather than make a one-time investment in an aerator, you will need to keep buying liquid aeration solution.

  • Not as effective for compacted soil. Chris Lemcke, national technical director at Weed Man, an international network of locally owned and operated lawn care businesses, says he first started testing liquid aeration products about a decade ago. While they can help make lawns healthier, he cautions against using them to loosen heavily compacted soil. “Liquid aeration products will have almost no effect on compaction, especially in the short term,” he says. If compacted soil is your main concern, opt for traditional aeration.
  • Not the best option for newly-seeded lawns. Those are better served by core aeration since the holes provide a better foothold for new grass growth. “Seeds need soil contact in order to germinate,” says Lemcke. “When you aerate, you pull the plugs that break down and cover the seed and allows for greater germination. Seeds also fall into the aerator holes and will germinate in the holes as well. This will not happen when using a liquid aeration product.”

How Much Does Liquid Aeration Cost?

For a DIY lawn aeration application, expect to pay about $1 per thousand square feet of coverage.

Most lawn care companies charge a bit less for liquid aeration than core aeration. For a 10,000-square foot lawn, it should cost about $150 to hire a lawn care company to liquid aerate your lawn.

How to DIY Liquid Aerate Your Lawn

You only need two things: a good liquid aeration solution, such as Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Soil Loosener, and a hose-end sprayer, such as the Ortho Dial N Spray Hose End Sprayer.

The best time to liquid aerate your lawn is in the spring or fall. This is usually when grass is growing the most, which allows the lawn to recover quickly. Spray according to the directions, then thoroughly water your lawn afterward and for the next two weeks. Your lawn should start looking better in a few weeks.

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.