As you know if you’ve read any of my articles, I’m a huge proponent of aerating your lawn. More specifically, I recommend core aeration, and it’s something I typically do just before overseeding my cool season lawn in the fall. I think this combination of projects is one of the fastest ways to transform your lawn into the thick, lush carpet of green we are all trying to achieve. But if you’re like me, you’ve probably come across liquid aeration products that claim to be just as good at loosening compact and clay soils. So does liquid aeration work? And if so, what can you expect from this “low-impact” alternative to mechanical turf aeration. This fall I tried Aerify Plus from Nature’s Lawn & Garden, Inc. to find out.
And a quick note before I get started: Nature’s Lawn & Garden sent me Aerify Plus for free to test out and see what I thought of the product. The views and impressions I’m sharing in this article are my own and based on my experience using the product on a neighbor’s lawn where we did an overseeding project this fall (I’m including some early results photos in this post).
In today’s article I’m going to tell you what I really thought of the product – the same way I always do!
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Why Liquid Aeration is Gaining Popularity
A lot of good companies have been manufacturing liquid soil improvement products for years, so in some ways many of the liquid aeration products that you’ll see online today are nothing new.
But I think the marketing of these products may be changing to cater to today’s more-informed homeowner (who understands the benefits of aeration).
And the reason why people want a liquid aeration product is pretty simple:
Traditional aeration can be a lot of work.
Going to your local rental center, loading up a heavy core aeration machine, unloading it back at your place, getting plugs all over your yard, and then hosing that heavy machine down and hauling it back to the rental center for inspection is … well, it’s a pain.
It’s tiring, it’s messy, and even though it’s worth it (because the results can’t be beat), there’s a big segment of the market that is hungry for an alternative that can get those results with less friction.
So if someone told you that you could get the same results by attaching a sprayer to your hose and watering your lawn for a few minutes, it would be hard not to consider giving it a whirl.
I mean, I was curious!
But is that just smart marketing that claims to solve a pain point for customers, or does liquid aeration really work?
So, Does Liquid Aeration Work?
Let’s start with what some experts have to say about it.
Most people I spoke with came down on the side of mechanical aeration. There were advocates for both approaches, and it struck me that most who said liquid aeration was less effective didn’t say it was ineffective – just that they preferred mechanical aeration.
I’m including an argument for its effectiveness, and one recommending mechanical aeration:
Yes, It Does Work
“Our lawn care service has been doing liquid aeration instead of core aeration on our clay-based lawns since 2002. It is faster and easier to do, there’s no mess or risk of damage to property tree roots, and it aerates more completely and deeper than plugs can. Our customers’ lawns respond very quickly, and we can do applications throughout the year without worrying about exposing weed seeds by making holes in the turf.”
– Stuart Franklin, Author of Building a Healthy Lawn: A Safe and Natural Approach; Founder and President of Nature’s Lawn & Garden, serving Western New York lawns for over 30 years.
No, It Doesn’t Work
“Aerating your soil is incredibly important. It allows air to better circulate throughout the soil, and when you add healthy compost over the soil, it gives that room to incorporate. It is important for your soil to be broken up so that nutrients don’t get packed and thus aren’t inaccessible by plant roots. I typically don’t advise using liquid aeration because it’s not as effective as actually physically breaking apart the soil.”
– Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, a company that’s bringing high-tech solutions to the lawn care industry by helping thousands of customers connect with the absolute best local lawn care professionals.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a big proponent of mechanical / core aeration. So like many of you, I was skeptical about liquid aeration and how effective it could really be.
So I asked Stuart Franklin, Founder and President of the company that makes Aerify Plus to explain exactly how liquid aeration products work. I also asked how Aerify Plus differs from similar products on the market.
Here’s what he had to say:
Most liquid aeration products are basically humic acid, which aerates somewhat but not greatly. Some liquid aeration products are more of a surfactant, which improves water penetration, but does not last long or get deeply into the clay. With Aerify Plus we have taken an agricultural surfactant, increased its strength 25%, and then ionized it so it adheres to and works on the clay particles better. This releases oxygen. We add both humic acid and seaweed to the mixture to help feed and generate soil microbes that work to restructure the soil. These also put lots of trace elements and biostimulants into the soil so you usually see a better-looking lawn within a day or two of application.
That made sense to me, and I was happy to test it out on my neighbor’s lawn where we were already scheduled to do a slice-seeding project this fall.
Since Aerify Plus is safe to use when seeding, it was easy to incorporate it.
The full project process and results are something I’ll be sharing with my readers next season in case you’d like to try the same approach on your lawn.
My Take After Trying Aerify Plus (Review)
My first impressions were great, because the shipment from Nature’s Lawn & Garden was well packaged and secure with no leaks. The included spray bottle was vacuum-sealed to ensure there was no spill during shipment, which was nice.
Having received similar products by mail in the past I can tell you that not everyone shrink-wraps their liquid products (but they should).
I’d read some online reviews which suggested that the included hose-end sprayer didn’t perform well. So I paid special attention to its construction as I hooked it up to my 100 foot flexible garden hose from Ace Hardware.
Your mileage may vary, but I had no issues with it, and found the product easy to spray and control. I may be wrong, but I think it’s the same one a lot of companies with liquid fertilizer products use.
One full hose-end sprayer is meant to treat 8,000-16,000 square feet. That’s a big range, but the manufacturer recommends different levels of application depending upon your yard’s condition.
Either way that’s a large area, so you will want to move fast so you don’t over-apply.
My goal was to get even coverage without putting too much product down. I was applying some other soil improving products as well, and didn’t want to be too heavy handed.
If I’m applying a liquid product I’ve never tried before (be it a lawn weed killer, liquid fertilizer, or soil treatment) I make sure to do a light application.
This lets me gauge impact, and follow-up with more treatments until the results are where I want them to be.
In my view it’s usually better to go light and come back with a second light application later.
You can always add more, but you can’t take it out of the turf.
I had good data on the yard’s soil after using a lawn soil test kit. (Here’s the one I used: Manfucturer link / Amazon link). I wanted to be able to work from that baseline information and build the soil how I wanted to.
After using the included sprayer, my opinion is that it’s good quality and easy to use. It only took me a few minutes to get the coverage I needed.
The project area I was testing this product on was about 2,500 square feet, so there was plenty of product left in the bottle (which I’m told is fine to use again later if stored properly).
If you’re unsure of the size of your project, use my free lawn size calculator to measure your lawn accurately. After drawing your lawn map, click the blue button and I’ll email you a private link automatically, so you can come back to it any time.
Having the soil dry prior to application will help you see where you’ve sprayed and where you haven’t so you get good coverage. The product has some color to it, so you really shouldn’t need any dye to see it on your yard. I found it easy to see any areas I’d missed and spray them.
And as you get close to finishing your application, be ready to move the switch back to water-only. This way you don’t end up with a big patch of product applied where you don’t want it.
The results of using this product as part of the overseeding project we did this fall were great. And I’m sure that the humic acid in the product is doing good things for the soil.
The Lawn Before the Project:
Thin and crispy from the summer, the project yard had a mix of grass types and weeds. There was also a fair amount of dead organic material on the soil surface.
I scalped the lawn and bagged the clippings before beginning my overseeding project. This allowed all of the new grass seedlings to develop well without as much pressure from existing grass.
Using the Classen Overseeder:
I wanted to take on an overseeding project using one of the Classen overseeders The Home Depot rents to homeowners across the country. Since I hadn’t rented this particular tool before, I wanted to understand how it performed.
I like to do this when possible so I’m not just recommending products that don’t work well.
You can read my full article about using a slice seeder here.
I used a depth of around 1/4″. Here you can see it taking its first pass across the scalped lawn:
An overseeder or slice seeder like the one I used cuts shallow grooves in the soil. As it does so, it presses the seed it drops down into these grooves to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
The idea is that you can save a step and not have to cover your seed. It worked, and the birds were mostly disappointed.
In my application I used Aerify Plus in combination with the following products:
- Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Grass Seed (applied with a Classen Overseeder rented from The Home Depot)
- Jonathan Green Lawn Food for Seeding and Sodding (12-18-8)
- Jonathan Green Mag-I-Cal Plus for Lawns in Acidic & Hard Soil
- And the Aerify Plus from Nature’s Lawn & Garden
In addition to the Classen Overseeder I rented for the project, I used:
I also set up a few hoses and sprinklers to make sure I could keep the seed watered properly. This helped ensure good germination and growth.
A Little More Information:
The lawn we were working on was beat up with bare patches, weeds, and compaction from pets and kids. The soil skewed sandy, and was poor.
I mulch-mowed at the second-lowest height setting on my mower one week before my project weekend. Then, on the morning of my project, I mowed at the lowest setting. At that time I bagged all of the clippings and organic matter pulled from the soil surface. I took this to our local brush dump to be composted.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you already know that I recommend incorporating a quality humic acid product into your annual lawn care routine. You’ll find this advice in my lawn care cheat sheet, and elsewhere.
I think for many people the Aerify Plus product would fill this role just fine.
Project Results Photos:
I’ll plan to follow-up with some better photos next year. But the early results have been great – excellent germination rate, healthy seedlings, with great vigor and color. I love Jonathan Green’s Black Beauty Ultra seed, and highly recommend it.
Here are three progress photos that show how this combination of products performed:
It was quite a dramatic transformation in just a few weeks. The homeowner said quite a few neighbors stopped to ask what he’d done.
I considered using Tenacity to knock out some of the weeds that existed in the lawn prior to overseeding. But, I decided that I’ll just follow up in the spring with a good pre-emergent and a broadleaf weed-and-feed. After some spot-treatments later in the season and regular fertilization, the lawn should look great.
I seeded a little on the heavy side. I’m optimistic that by next fall the lawn will be thick, healthy, and mostly weed-free.
Do I Think that Liquid Aeration Works?
I’m not sure I can answer my title question of this article based on my single use of this product this fall.
But I liked Aerify Plus and had great interactions with Nature’s Lawn & Garden, Inc. – the company that makes it.
The results of incorporating this along with the other products I used in this project were great. And I will use it on my own lawn next season.
I plan to continue bi-annual core aeration with my own lawn. But there are enough good ingredients in Aerify Plus and other liquid aeration products, that light applications should offer plenty of benefits above and beyond any turf aeration they deliver.
I also should point out that my lot (and most of the lots in my neighborhood) have soil that skews sandy. So with the exception of extremely high-traffic areas, we don’t have the same compaction challenges homeowners with clay soil have.
I’ll see if I can find someone in my area with clay and test it there as well.
My Final Take-Away
For now, I can recommend Aerify Plus as a good soil improvement product for lawns. It was packaged and shipped well, arrived promptly, and I found it easy to apply to the lawn. I like that it has a long shelf life (it’s not something you’ll have to throw away if you order more than you need), and it’s a product I’ll be happy to use again in the future.
When used in tandem with the Jonathan Green products I applied during this overseeding project, the results were fantastic.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, here’s where you can get some:
- You can order it directly from the manufacturer here, or
- You can check Aerify Plus reviews and order on Amazon right here.
And the folks at Nature’s Lawn & Garden are giving my readers a special coupon code to use if you order through their website. Use coupon code LAWNCHICK5 and save 5% off your orders on NaturesLawn.com.