Laying down traditional sod can take a lot of time and effort. You need to prepare your lawn, then go over each segment physically spreading sod by hand or with a push seeder. While traditional manual seeding is the most common option, there are other ways to seed a lawn that are more efficient, including hydroseeding.
Hydroseeding is typically done by professional companies, but hydroseeding on your own is a lot simpler than you might think. So read on to learn more about DIY hydroseeding and some tips on how to hydroseed most effectively.
Hydroseeding is a technique for spreading grass seed that utilizes water. Hydroseeding techniques spread a mixture of water, mulch, fertilizer, and grass seed over a lawn. The mixture is meant to promote healthy grass growth while also fully seeding a lawn. The fertilizer and mulch in the mixture promote healthy growth and allows the grass seed to take root better and germinate.
Hydroseeding is also sometimes called hydromulching and is becoming a more popular way of seeding a lawn. Hydroseeding has several benefits but also some drawbacks, which we will cover here.
Hydroseeding Pros & Cons
- Very affordable compared to traditional methods of laying sod
- More efficient and faster than conventional seeding
- Seed germinates more quickly
- Prevents soil erosion
- Grass seed is spread more evenly
- Hydroseeding keeps the lawn moisturized during the most crucial part of the seeding process
- Not as cost-efficient on smaller lawns
- Not as affordable as traditional seeding
- Uses a lot of water and requires a lot of watering
- Takes longer to see the results
What Equipment Do I Need for Hydroseeding?
If you want some DIY hydroseeding, then you will only need one piece of specialized equipment. A hydroseeder is a piece of equipment that is basically a tank, engine, and pump. The tank's size can vary between 300 gallons to 1,000 gallons, with larger tanks better for commercial and industrial projects.
Basically, with a hydroseeder, you fill-up the tank with the mixture and then use the mechanical spray apparatus to spread the mulch. Hydroseeders have an agitator that mixes the mulch, seed, and fertilizer and uses a pump to spray the mixture. You can most likely rent or buy a hydroseeder from your local lawn and garden store.
On average, a hydroseeder will cost anywhere between $500-$1,000 to rent per day. If you are just hydroseeding your home lawn, then you most likely won’t need the machine for more than a day.
Strictly speaking, you do not need a hydroseeder to hydroseed as you can use other pieces of equipment. This will make the process much more difficult, so it’s best that you just eat the cost and rent a machine made specifically for hydroseeding.
When Should I Hydroseed My Lawn?
In general, the spring and the fall are the best time to hydroseed your lawn. These times are the best because the moderate temperature soil and light rain will help the grass seeds take root and grow. You can hydroseed during the height of the summer, but the heat means you will likely have to water more than usual.
Of course, local variations in rain, temperature, and amount of sunlight will affect the optimal time to hydroseed. The type of grass you use also matters. Warm-season grasses should be seeded during the late spring or early summer, while cool-season grasses are best seeded in the late summer or early fall.
How to Hydroseed a Lawn
First, you should go through your lawn and remove any large debris, such as sticks or rocks. Smooth out any irregular spots and apply an even layer of topsoil and compost on the area you want to cover. This part is vital because the seeded grass needs nutrients to take root and grow.
Next, add the seeds, mulch, water, and chosen fertilizer to the hydroseeder and turn the agitator on to mix them. You want the mixture as even and homogenous as possible before you spray it. Once it is mixed, turn the spray mechanism and cover the lawn. Make sure that you do not overspray certain spots as this can make your final results uneven. You can also add an extra layer of fertilizer after this part if you feel it is necessary.
Afterward, make sure you keep the lawn moisturized for at least two months. Also, try to minimize as much foot traffic on the lawn as possible. Walking on the lawn can mess up your results and cause bare patches.
After about two months, your grass should have grown enough that you can mow it for the first time. Be very careful mowing for the first time as some seed may not have developed deep enough roots. You should try not to cut the grass to less than ½” the first time you mow. After that, you can continue with lawn maintenance as regular.
Tips for Effective Hydroseeding
The basic gist of hydroseeding is pretty simple, but here are some tips to keep in mind to make the process as effective as possible.
- Water your lawn frequently. Hydroseeding requires more water than normal, and at the beginning, you will need to water your lawn approximately 3-4 times a day.
- Don’t use any pesticides initially. Pesticides run the risk of killing newly growing grass, so don’t use them until the grass has taken root and is growing normally.
- Don’t walk on the lawn while the seed is setting. This will cause thinning and bare patches. This also means that you should keep pets off your lawn as well.
- Pay attention to the soil grade. The soil grade refers to how fine the soil is. All other things being equal, finer soil is more effective for hydroseeding. The hydroseeding machine you rent should be rated for a particular soil grade so you can use that measurement as a guide.