What is Hydroseeding?
Hydroseeding is really a pretty simple process. Water, seed, fertilizer, and a protective mulch is mixed in a tank and sprayed onto the ground.
The first known hydroseeding unit was built by the state of Connecticut long ago. It was a jet type system and used peat moss as the mulch agent. When the Interstate Highway System was started during the Eisenhower administration there was a change in how roads were built. All of a sudden roads went through the hills instead of over them or around them. Conventional seeding techniques could not seed the steep hillsides created by highway construction and hydroseeding was the answer. Something else happened too! People noticed the grass that was planted with hydroseeding grew faster and better.
The early machines worked well but were expensive enough that only big seeding jobs could be economically justified. In the last decade, much more affordable machines have come on the market, and the advantages of hydroseeding are affordable to most any seeding professional.
Well, let's look at what exactly is in the mix that is sprayed onto a hydroseeding job.
Water in the mix acts as a carrier, and the contact of the seed and the water will jump-start the growth process. When extra fast germination is desired, it is also possible to pre-germinate seed for even faster growth.
Seed used in a hydroseeder doesn’t need to be anything special. Nearly any seed can be used and at the same application rate as other seeding methods. These can include grass or lawn seeds, wildflowers, pasture seed, the seed for athletic fields, and seeds for erosion control such as crown vetch.
Fertilizer is usually used in the mix. A high phosphorus “starter” fertilizer that will stimulate root growth is the most commonly used
Hydroseeding mulch is what gives it the green color. It does more than just make it pretty, it helps protect the seed, and to seal in moisture. It may be made from a paper or wood product or a mix. If any accidentally gets on your walkways, driveways, or house, it will not stain and can be washed off, or will just disappear on its own.
Other products that may be added to a hydroseeding mix are products called tackifiers that help hold the materials on a hillside in rainy conditions. They also help seal moisture into the soil and lubricate the machine. A lime-based product is added if the pH needs correcting. Other products such as co-polymers that hold 400 times their weight in water and slowly
ADVANTAGES OF HYDROSEEDING OVER DRY SEEDING
- Hydroseeded lawns come up faster. The contact of the seed with water will trigger the germination cycle. We often hear of grass up in 3 to 5 days.
- Hydroseeding has an attractive green appearance that looks far better than lawns dry seeded and covered with straw mulch.
- Unlike straw that is often used as a protective cover for a newly seeded area, hydroseeding mulch has NO weed seed. Straw is loaded with weed seed.
- Hydroseeding allows the custom tailoring of the proper seed for your job. It is not uncommon to use two or even three seeds custom spraying the right seed for different areas on the lawn or job. Many custom hydroseeding contractors will use one seed for shady areas, one for high traffic areas, one to make the front lawn a showpiece.
- Hydro Seeding mulch adds to the humus content of a lawn as it decomposes. The bacterial action of straw will leach nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes.
ADVANTAGES OF HYDROSEEDING OVER SOD
- Sod is a good solution to the need for a new lawn. It is expensive. Sod generally costs 3 to 5 times more than hydroseeding. Hydroseeding will often produce turf as nice looking as sod within a very short time at significant cost savings.
- With hydroseeding, the new seedlings are grown on your soil. Sod can have a problem with the type of soil it was grown on, not having sufficient compatibility with the soil it is planted on. This is called “not taking”. If you have ever seen sod that looks like it could be rolled right back up even years after it was planted. That is sod that did not take.
- With sod, the roots are chopped off resulting in a less healthy plant
- With sod, it is important to have sod installed by someone who has a lot of experience. Sod will shrink over the first month and if it is not installed properly gaps will open up between the sod rows.
- Sod requires a lot of care. It can produce a beautiful lawn. Should you decide to use sod, or as some people do, decide to sod the front lawn, and hydroseed the back lawn.
We hope that you will ask the trained professional who installs your sod about the watering and fertilizing steps you need to follow to ensure that you have a successful and beautiful new lawn.