Lazyman, Nitron, or Aerify Liquid Aerator: Do any of these work?

control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)November 3, 2007

Bestlawn recommends Nitron, and that's the reason I even started looking at these products -- her advice is fantabulistic. But, the main arguments I've seen against liquid aerator products (Lazyman, Nitron, Turf2Max, Aerify, etc.) are that they are just soap and/or beer with maybe some Adolph's Meat Tenderizer added to spice things up and that they don't work.

But, on the Lazyman website, it says it's not a wetting agent, surfactant, penetrant, polyacrlyamide or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (that's fancy talk for soap -- I like them citified, big words). It even goes on to slam other products of its personified ilk that don't match its advanced formulation. Also, it says that Lazyman uses electrolytes, polymers, and molecular polarization to achieve its penetrating/loosening effect -- (Gatorade for grass, heh).

All of this sounds great, but does it work? I have my own mechanical aerator, but my soil is so tough, it fears only roundhouse kicks from Chuck Norris. So, anything I can use to effectively supplement what I'm already doing, I'm interested in trying. All opinions, welcome, as I'm close to placing an order.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I don't use those nor do I use an aerator. My approach differs from what you have seen. It works on my yard, and I have suggested it occasionally over the years, but I don't know if anyone else has had success with it.

The theory behind my approach presumes a few things:
1. Your soil must be hard even when wet. If your soil is hard when dry and soft when wet, then that is ideal in my world. That's the way mine is when I consider it to be healthy. Usually hard soil will be cracked when dry and water will roll off the surface instead of soaking in.

2. You must agree that a shortage of beneficial fungi is the reason your soil is always hard. These shortages are usually caused by flooding (cutting off the oxygen to the aerobic fungi) and by drought (simply killing them with a lack of moisture). Using a commercial fungicide, baking soda, sulfur, or sulfated fertilizers will also reduce the population of soil fungi.

If you will agree (or at least buy in) to these presumptions, then here's my approach. First let me say that adding soap and enzymes have little effect on fungal populations. Okay, if you can bring the soil moisture level up to where it is not flooded but remains moist long enough to raise the fungal population, then you should create softer soil. My approach requires a soaker hose, that's all. I run a regular hose to my soaker hose and stretch the soaker out lengthwise. If you curl the soaker up, it actually puts too much water in one place. Then turn the faucet on until the water trickles out. If it comes out in a stream, that stream must fall apart before hitting the ground. I'm talking about not much water at all. Then leave that water trickling into the soaker hose 24 hours a day for a full week. At the end of a week, move the hose 18 inches to the edge of the wet line. Repeat moving the hose every week until your entire lawn is covered. I should add that you will have to water the lawn normally during this process. Then repeat starting at the place of beginning. Cover the lawn again and repeat again. After the third time, your soil fungal population should be restored. The evidence of that would be an extremely soft soil when moist and a solid foundation when it dries out in a few days. But it should accept lots of moisture quickly and become very soft again when you water. Picture a sponge that becomes hard when dry, accepts water quickly, and becomes very soft when moist.

What this does is provide a non-flooding amount of moisture to the soil over a long period of time. It is the perfect environment for the beneficial fungi to grow back.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 9:01PM
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I think the liquid helps but it is not a magic bullet that's going to turn your hardpan in perfect soil.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 11:42PM
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I think several of these products will say that they're not surfactants or wetting agents, but when they describe what they do, they're describing surfactants and/or wetting agents.

If you're in the intermountain west, there's another product (Revive) that is supposed to do many of the same things, and also includes some chelated iron (useful with alkaline soils).

I've used Revive and honestly can't tell how much it helped. I should have left some areas untreated so I could compare, but I applied it to the entire lawn. The lawn did seem to absorb water better after the application, but I had also increased my use of organics, so I don't know how much of the improvement was due to the Revive and how much was due to improvements from the increase in organic matter. I think their website says it helps an organic program, so maybe the two working together made it better. It comes in a liquid form, but also comes sprayed on dehydrated poultry manure (I think it's about 8% N). If I found the version with the poultry manure on sale cheaply enough, I might buy it again, but otherwise, I'll just continue mulch mowing and adding coffee grounds to the lawn.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 12:53AM
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gryd(Trumbull, CT Z6)

I've tried Aerify, Turf2Max, and Nitron with only temporary results. The soil hardens back up after a couple
of weeks. Fortunately for me, my worst soil is in three shady nooks I have in my backyard. As much as I dislike Poa Trivialis, it doesn't seem to mind the dense shade nor the compact soil. The past 2 Falls I've been core aerating the area (mostly with my Turf Hound) and seeding with Jonathan Green's Shady Nooks seed with 20% Poa Trivialis. These areas are now green, though not the thickest turf, they are much better than they were (hard dirt!). I also spread Peat Moss in the holes after I aerate and that seems to help as well. Earlier I stated that my worst soil is in these shady nooks. That is not entirely true as I have a very sunny area next to my house that was created when a landscaper doing some drainage work used Fill under the guise of topsoil. Here I don't dare plant the Poa Triv and I've been struggling with the area for 2 years. It is here I wish the Nitron would have a more lasting effect (unfortunately it doesn't). I'm trying some fine fescue here because it grows better in poor soil much better than the Tall Fescue/KBG I have in my front. I think I will try Dchall's approach as well.
In conclusion, I wouldn't say don't try these products but they are very expensive for the small benefit they produce.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 7:20AM
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Did you use the same thing in your shady crannies?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 8:17AM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

Thanks for the replies. I'm not looking for a magic bullet, just an effective supplement. For me, mechanical aeration and highest setting mowing are standard. I've only recently started getting my grub and harmful fungus situation under control (which is why my grass has died the last two springs even though it looks awesome every fall). I have city water, so sometimes I have to back off on that, but each year it has died, I was watering regularly when the Green Reaper showed up.

I aerated and seeded the middle of October. The seed came up evenly, but as the days went by, the seed that thrived were the ones that fell into the deeper aeration holes. Then, the germinated seed not in the aeration holes started to thin out. Now, the yard looks kind of pock-marked, like I planted tall fescue plugs instead of seed (not too bad, but definately noticeable).

In the spring, I'm thinking of aerating again, overseeding, putting down a liquid aerator, and then spreading a layer of compost. I'm not really 100% organic; I'm more of a hybrid guy, right now, and don't plan to stop using the chemical fertilizers until next fall.

If I do the liquid aerator thing in the spring, I plan to have physically segregated, fertilized 8' x 8' sample areas A, B, C & D where:

A = Untreated
B = Liquid Aerator Only
C = Mechanical Aerator Only
D = The lawn with all of the above plus compost

I don't want to waste money, so this would help me find out what's working (and I could post pics for everybody else). I hate possibly having to do all of this because in the past, all I had to do was fertilize, cut high, keep the worms happy and water. Any other suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 10:54AM
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Have you ever considered the use of pelletized Gypsum?(Calcium Sulfate) It does not affect soil PH and improves soil structure to allow an increase of oxygen and water to penetrate the soil.

It breaks up hard soils and is a natural product, but you will have to check it out though, it may or may not be right for your situation.

I remember as a kid asking my dad what he was putting on the lawn and to this day can remember his response: "It's gypsum and I'm trying to break up this %#@&! hard clay soil!"

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 6:41PM
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Keep in mind that gypsum only helps a certain type of clay soil. I don't remember the details, only that it's not the kind of clay I have. I think the clay it helps is sodic clay.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 9:28PM
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Any type of soil can be sodic, not just clay soil.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 1:13AM
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"In the rare event that calcium is recommended for a lawn with an adequate pH, you can use gypsum as a source of calcium. Keep in mind that gypsum is not a liming source. Also, despite claims on some gypsum labels, it will not relieve soil compaction or break up clay soils in the northeast United States. Gypsum improves soil structure in sodic and high-salinity soils found in some areas of the western United States".

BP, I guess you are right in a way. Found the above statement on the Penn State site. I guess Gypsum improves soil structure only in sodic and high-salinity soils, and does not help to relieve soil compaction.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 6:05PM
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I tried Lazyman and I did see some minor changes in my worst area. The rest of it, I couldn't see a difference.

I did find that feeding organically seemed to help a lot more than anything else ever did.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 7:12AM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

I'll have to see what the soil test says and check it against what the NCSU Turfiles says, as far as the gypsum goes. No one has suggested that to me before, but I'm willing to research it and give it a shot.

Quirky and dchall, do you have any experience with gypsum? I was also thinking I might try to help things along by adding in some earthworms when I put down the compost, rather than waiting on them to creep back by themselves. Do you think that's worth it, also? Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 9:36PM
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I wouldn't bother adding any worms. Unless there are none at all, as the organic content of the soil rises, you'll start seeing more of them.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 10:35PM
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+1 bpgreen. I went two years without ever seeing a single worm. They were obviously there, as now there are worm castings every six or seven inches through the lawn.

I still don't see them, however. Just their leavings...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 7:18AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Yeah, I used Nitron with good results. I had a 10x15 area that was hard as concrete and also had been aerated several times (or tryed to with many soakings) to no avail. Nitron seeemed to help the area, and I've not had any problems since. I was satisfied.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 8:37AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Quirky and dchall, do you have any experience with gypsum?

Uhhh, sort of. My bedrock is pure white calcium carbonate. The dust and rubble on top of the bedrock is crushed calcium carbonate. Does that count?

I don't need to add any lime to my limestone soil.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 12:37PM
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I used Aerify Plus three times this season. The first time, I applied it to half of the back yard. I did notice a slight improvement overall in the test area, and a more significant improvement to a problem spot within that area. The other two times I applied it, I noticed a slight "perk up", for lack of a better term.

Overall, I think they are worth trying out, but can be a bit expensive. At the prices they're sold for, you'd have to do the cost/benefit analysis on your own.

I will probably give it a shot again next year, but am not certain at this point.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 1:19PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

in my case, I bought Nitron (expensive) specifically for a one or two-time use only. If it didnt work, so be it. If it did, I was that much further ahead. Fortunately for me, I did see improvement, so the cost was justified.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 9:15AM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

I'll try putting both the Nitron and Lazyman down on alternating weeks when the ground thaws next year. I read in a few places that Nitron wasn't to be used with non-organic fertilizers, which is what I'll be using until next fall, as it will burn the lawn. Has anybody else heard this?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 6:17PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Nope. I used mine on a chem lawn with no problems.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 7:49AM
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Save your hard earned money...Tried 3 expensive liquid aerators for the last 4 years. I bought multiple gallons i'm ashamed to say...But I was desperate.My lawn was so compacted.These websites that sell those liquid aerators are so well made that I believed their spiel about ions,molecular breakdowns,liquid soap and non liquid soap dialogues.Those websites are crafted to SELL TO DESPERATE AND LAZY CONSUMERS. I bought 10 gallons my first year and squirted once a month all summer. Of course I thought I saw results but during the fall and winter I noticed no lingering results, my lawn had compacted just like it did the winter before.ITS LIKE BUYING A DIET PILL AND USING THERE RECOMMENDED FOOD DIET MENU THAT COMES WITH THE DIET PILL( YOU"RE GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT ANYWAYS BY JUST GOING BY THE RECOMMENDED FOOD INTAKE THEY WANT YOU TO USE ,YOU DON"T NEED THE PILL!! Get a Mechanical AERATOR and use it!Make more than one pass around the lawn, you're not mowing it! Aerate the hell out of it. ONE GREAT MECHANICAL AERATION PER YEAR GOES ALONG WAY!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 8:24AM
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