What is Hydroseeding?

Lynne William

Hydroseeding is a planting procedure that employs the use of hydraulic equipment to disperse a thick suspension, or slurry, of seeds, mulch, and water. The slurry is dispersed over the ground by use of a sprayer tank that is typically transported by truck or trailer to the location. For larger areas, helicopters or other small aircraft may be used to spread the mixture. Hydroseeding first appeared commercially in the United States in the early 1950s and quickly spread to the United Kingdom and other European nations. The process is now used worldwide due to its cost-effectiveness and probability of success.

Hydroseeding is sometimes done on burned land after a wildfire.
Hydroseeding is sometimes done on burned land after a wildfire.

This seeding method has become a widely used alternative to the more traditional method of sowing dry seeds and then laying down mulch as a separate top layer. There are two major benefits to hydroseeding: rapid sprouting and growth of seeds and the prevention of soil erosion. One of the most common applications is the reclamation of burned land, such as in the aftermath of a wildfire. In that case, the hydroseeding process may simply lay down a layer of soil stabilizer in order to curb erosion and prevent the introduction of non-indigenous varieties of plant life from taking hold.

Helicopters may be used for hydroseeding.
Helicopters may be used for hydroseeding.

The sprouting and early growth of seeds, or germination, is sped up in hydroseeding due to the high moisture level retained by the mulch in the slurry mixture. Depending on the application, fertilizers can be introduced to the slurry to further promote crop health and to encourage quick growth. The process has all but replaced traditional methods in the seeding of large commercial locations, such as highways, golf courses, and new housing developments where the native landscape has been mostly razed. As hydroseeding is a one-step process, the manpower expense is considerably less than the traditional dry seeding, mulch, and water approach, or even the laying of sod or turf.

For homeowners, the benefits of hydroseeding are manifold. The results are quick; depending on climate, grass can appear on a barren lawn inside of a week. The slurry mixture used for residential hydroseeding is green, which looks much more attractive than the traditional straw mulch used to protect a dry seeding. Straw also contains a high weed seed content; the slurry does not. In addition, straw mulch leaches nitrogen from the soil during decomposition, which can compromise future lawn health.

The laying of sod has traditionally been the method of choice for tract housing developers, but has been largely replaced by hydroseeding in recent years. Sod is expensive, and it doesn't always take; it's not uncommon to see sod that's been down for a year or more to appear as if it could be rolled up like a carpet and carted away intact. In contrast, this risk is practically non-existent with hydroseeding. Whether a professional is hired or dispersal equipment rented from a large home improvement store for do-it-yourselfers, it is an effective method for cultivating a lawn.

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