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Does Hydroseeding Really Work? – What Might Cause It to Fail?

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith Hardy
Senior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services....

There is no doubt that hydroseeding does work if done properly, and it is probably the most effective method of putting down a new lawn or revitalizing an existing lawn. Indeed, hydroseeding as a process was developed precisely to overcome terrains that were difficult to see or plant by traditional broadcast seeding or sod-laying methods.

As a process, hydroseeding has many advantages. It is a fast, efficient, and generally cost-effective way to seed or sometimes overseed a lawn. Although the process has been in use for over thirty years, for many gardeners and homeowners, it is a relatively new concept, and the question does hydroseeding really work is a common one.

Below we will look at why it works and how it is currently used. we will also explore reasons why on occasion, it can go wrong, with the grass failing to establish itself.

Does Hydroseeding Really Work?

does hydroseeding really work

Hydroseeding is a hydraulic method/process for the application of seed, fertilizer, and mulch by spraying. It has proven to be a very effective and efficient way of seeding or sometimes overseeding a lawn. The process should result in an even and complete distribution of seeds over the target area. The resulting grass growth is usually strong, leading to a healthy and good-looking lawn.

However, as with any overseeding application, the best results will depend largely on the ground preparation before hydroseeding and, more specifically, on aftercare. 

Using a Hydroseeding Contractor for Best Results

Hydroseeding is generally a commercial process because of the equipment that is required to mix the application and apply it to the soil is large and relatively expensive, while experience is always a huge asset..

Advantages of Using a Hydroseeding Contractor

There are many advantages to employing a hydroseeding contractor, and it will go a long way to achieving the lawn you want with the least amount of hassle.

Ground Preparation One of the Keys to Making Hydroseeding Work

It is important to make sure that the ground is properly prepared before you start the seed application. This usually means that the ground is properly aerated and decompacted, as well as properly scarified if overseeding.

In fact, creating the correct soil environment for the seed goes a long way to achieving a healthy, thriving lawn, and getting it wrong can be a key reason why grass seed deployed via hydroseeding might not germinate properly.

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Getting the Correct Hydroseeding Mix

When the ground is being prepared, a contractor will take soil tests from various places across the area to be seeded. This is to ensure the ground contains adequate nutrients, which in turn will affect the fertilizer used in the hydroseeding mix.

In addition to soil conditions, the climate will also affect the type and amount of mulch required for the hydroseed application as well as the type of grass seed that is best suited to your individual conditions.

Experience

An experienced contractor is likely to have experienced most problems that can present themselves over the course of their career,. They will know the importance of climate and required grass type an varieties to ensure the best result.

Will Hydroseeding Yourself Work?

Of course, you can rent a hydroseeding machine from a local plant hire company or even build your own application machine if you have decent engineering skills to create your own hydroseeding mix of seed, compost/fertilizer, and mulch mix.

You have to weigh up the cost. renting will probably save some money, but not that much, while buying or building your own machine might be fun. unless you are looking to go into the business, it is unlikely to get much use.

While hydroseeding is not complicated, there are techniques for the application of the hydroseed slurry, and as with all professions, experience counts for a lot. There is no doubt that hydroseeding yourself should work, but the likelihood is that an experienced contractor is going to get better results.

Why Hydroseeding Didn’t Work?

applying hydroseed slurry

There are a number of reasons why hydroseeding hasn’t worked in specific instances. The main reason tends to be aftercare, but other problems can sometimes arise, such as the correct mix or seed choice or poor preparation when using hydroseeding for overseeding.

How Long Can Hydroseed Go Without Water?

Any newly seeded lawn needs water to ensure the seeds germinate and the new growth thrives. Although, with hydroseeding, the seeds have absorbed water in the mix, once down and the ground drys out, they will need watering. This could be as little as a day or two, depending on climate conditions.

There is a misnomer with hydroseeding that once the seed has been applied, it will take care of itself and develop into a beautiful lawn. While it is true that you won’t immediately have to water the area as you would with traditional seeding or overseeding, as the seed will have absorbed water in the mix, you still need to treat it as you would a traditional seeded or overseeded lawn. 

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This means that you need to carefully observe the area while it germinates, and employ a proper watering regime after hydroseeding. Essentially this means ensuring the ground remains moist but not saturated. Depending on climatic conditions, this could mean watering twice a day in the first week or ten days after the hydroseed application.[1]

Can Hydroseed Be Overwatered?

Hydroseed is a process, not a seed type. Once down, the same rules to any seeding or overseeding apply. In this case, just as seeds need water to thrive, too much water can drown them.

Although less likely to be washed away as with ordinary seeding or overseeding applications, any seed distributed through hydroseeding needs to be carefully monitored and prevailing weather conditions reacted to. 

With overwatering, the most damaging aspect is that the grass seed may literally be drowned, causing it to decay or damage its roots. This will lead to bare areas as the seed fails to take.

As a general rule, the ground should be moist, not soaking, and not dry. This is why, when conducting any hydroseeding, seeding or overseeding project, the area that has been seeded needs constant observation for the first week or two. 

Hydroseeding – Sunlight, Seed Choice, and Climate

The beauty of hydroseeding is the efficiency of the process. It is a very effective way of getting even and complete coverage of your target area very quickly. That being said it doesn’t mean that the basics can be ignored. One of the key components of successful hydroseeding is the correct seed choice and mix for your specific climatic conditions.

Different grass seeds thrive in different climatic conditions. Cool-season grasses don’t grow as well in hot arid conditions, while warm-season grasses usually require plenty of direct sunlight. Problems can occur when large parts of the ground to be seeded are heavily shaded. Generally, grass seed needs around three to four hours of direct sunlight to thrive. 

If shade prevents this, then you have to choose a seed that will perform better with a limited amount of sunlight. In addition, you may need to cut back the branches that are causing the shade to allow more sunlight to get through.

Can You Hydroseed Over an Existing Lawn?

Another area in which hydroseeding can fail is when using the process to overseed. Hydroseeding works best when you are looking to grow a completely new lawn. This doesn’t mean you can’t use it for overseeding. in fact, it can be an excellent method for overseeding, but if you do it is essential to make sure the existing lawn is properly prepared.  

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When hydroseeding is used on an existing lawn, the ground should be well aerated to improve drainage and airflow and thoroughly scarified. In essence, you have to prepare it as if you were manually overseeding it. 

By aerating, you allow oxygen and nutrients to reach the roots by removing compacted soil from the root zone. The scarification process removes the thatch from the lawn. It can actually leave the lawn looking quite bare, but it will allow the seeds to make contact with the soil  Both of these processes help the establishment of fresh turfgrass seedlings after hydroseeding. 

Summary: Does Hydroseeding Really Work?

It is important to understand that hydroseeding is the process of applying seeds, fertilizer, and mulch to the soil. It is, in essence, the mechanization of the traditional process, and as such the same preparation and aftercare regimes need to be applied to make sure that it works and produces the results that you desire.

As with any seeding or overseeding application, the success or failure of hydroseeding will depend largely on preparation and aftercare.

Hydroseeding, as a process, is a very effective and efficient way of seeding or overseeding a lawn. If adequate preparation and aftercare are practiced, it is usually a very successful process, However, as with any organic process, hydroseeding can be affected by environmental factors that are not under the control of the contractor. These environmental factors, however, would be the same as if you were seeding or overseeding in a conventional way.

Is hydroseeding better than traditional seeding or overseeding methods? It is certainly a very efficient way to seed and overseed a lawn. It is, though, a trade-off between effort and price.  Hydroseeding is going to be much more expensive than overseeding yourself. Using either method, if the area is prepared properly and if you ensure the correct watering regime after application, should result in a beautiful lawn.

Notes:

  1. Journal of Forest Science: Effect of hydroseeding on grass yield and water use efficiency on forest road artificial soil slopes. Water requirement of treatments p161

Further Reading: Does Hydroseeding Work

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Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith HardySenior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services. He is now dedicated to bringing you the latest in gardening news. Read more

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