Known in the industry by several names, hydroseeding is an alternative to broadcast seeding and to laying sod. Broadcast seeding casts dry grass seed onto prepared ground. The seeds are then watered thoroughly and covered with straw. While the cheapest of the three options, broadcast seeding is also the one with the most drawbacks. Hydroseeding, on the other hand, has fewer of those drawbacks and still remains a viable choice budget wise. Here are some of the things that you are going to want to know about hydroseeding:
- May be referred to as hydraulic mulch seeding, hydro-mulching, or other terms. They are all the same thing and use the same technical equipment and techniques.
- A slightly thickened mixture of seeds, mulch, and other material is pumped on to the ground from a tank, which is either on a truck or a trailer.
- This method typically requires little to no prep work beforehand unless the ground is covered in a lot of old, dead grass or other vegetation. In this case, it would be best to carefully prep the area. First, remove all of the dead materials, especially weeds that could damage your new, growing lawn. Bring in fresh top soil or till up the existing ground if you think it is in good condition. If you bring in soil, make sure that it is free of weeds and you have enough to cover the entire area to a depth of no less than four inches. Level, roll, and rake this new soil so that it is smooth and easy to work with. You will want to inspect the ground for any stones, sticks, or other large objects that might create a bump in your new lawn. If you are tilling, dig up the ground to at least the four inch mark and again, remove any large rocks, sticks, or other items that you dig up in the process. Follow the remaining steps as described and the ground should be good to go.
The Cost of Hydroseeding
Hydroseeding costs less than sodding, but how much less and is it worth it?
- The average cost of sod is between eight and 30 cents a square foot if you are doing it yourself. This cost will depend on the type of sod, the location, and who you are buying it from. The cost of having it installed brings the cost to between 14 and 60 cents per square foot.
- Hydroseeding costs are figured by either the square foot or by the acreage depending on the overall size of the project. The cost per square foot is between six and twenty cents. The cost of labor and other associated costs are not included in this.
- One thing that can raise hydroseeding prices is the cost of water. If you refuse to allow the contractor to fill his machine’s tank up at your home, he will need to go back to refill. This will not only add time to the project, but will also cost you in labor and mileage charges. It is usually cheaper to let the contractor use your home’s water supply for refills. A reputable contractor will discuss this with you while he is giving you your estimate on the project. If this is not brought up, make sure that you ask.
If Seeding Is Cheaper, Why Shouldn’t I Just Do That?
Broadcast seeding is the cheapest option but remember, you get what you pay for, or in this case, you hope to keep what you paid for.
- Broadcast seeding can be done by the average homeowner. For a small to medium application, you can even do it by hand. For a larger project there are many tools to get the job done quickly and easily. But, there are plenty of drawbacks to this type of seeding.
- The wind typically will blow away an eighth to half of the seeds that you lay down. That means that while you were saving money initially, you will often end up losing that money to the wind right off the bat.
- After you get the seeds down and watered, you must cover the entire area with a thick layer of straw to keep it moist and protected. The cheaper the straw that you buy the higher the likelihood of weed growth. Straw contains seeds and not always the seeds you want to deal with. So while you are protecting your seeds, you are also likely planting some as well.
- Birds and other animals will cart your straw away to build their homes. They may also stop to nibble on your new seeds while they are at it.
- The ground will be covered in straw for as much as a month while the seedlings get their start and take hold. Once you have established growing grass you will be able to rake up and dispose of the used straw or recycle it for another use. At this time you can see where seeding missed its target or where the seeds failed to thrive and decide how to patch these areas.
Back to Hydroseeding
- In addition to the seeds and multch that you have picked, hydroseeding’s slurry mixture can contain fertilizer, green dye, and a tackifying agent that helps to keep everything right where it needs to be. The green dye will give the ground a nice green appearance so even before the grass starts growing it will be pleasing to the eye.
- Grass should be seen growing in about a week after the application of the slurry. You will be looking at mowing the grass for the first time in a month or slightly less depending on the climate and the type of grass you are growing. For less maintenance, choose a slower growing grass variety and you will not be mowing nearly as often as your neighbors.
- Hydroseeding has been used to help stabilize the ground after forest fires with the slurry being dropped from helicopters.