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What Is Hydroseeding? | Understanding the Hydroseeding Process

Bio Photo - Terry Homes
Terry Holmes
Staff Writer

Terry has worked in a gardening-related industry for the past 18 years and has always worked hard to ensure his clients have the best experience...

Last Updated on April 7, 2022

Hydroseeding is the name given to the hydraulic delivery processes for the distribution of a slurry, which is a combination of seed, water, mulch, fertilizer (and other components, dependent on the project requirements) via a pressurized hose or turret mounted gun.

Hydroseeding is used both for residential and industrial use cases, and is generally applied to non-agricultural lands such as household yards, golf courses, parks, roadsides, parking lots, etc., where it is used to establish vegetation, control weeds, reduce erosion[1], improve drainage and enhance aesthetics.

The list of use cases for hydroseeding, and its companion process hydromulching, is extensive due to the adaptability of the slurry mix and flexibility of the distribution. In terms of industrial uses, erosion and dust control, together with revegetation of mines, quarries and brown field sites, have become important.

What Does the Term Hydroseeding Mean?

The term “hydro” refers to water and “seeding” refers to distributing the mixture. The process involves spraying a mixture of seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and other additives onto the ground in order to grow grass or other plants and crops. It can be used as a way to cover bare spots in fields with vegetation.

What Is Hydroseeding

What Is the Hydroseeding Process

Hydroseeding is a single step application. The mixture of mulch, seed, fertilizer and other components are combined in a tank that is equipped with an agitation system, which produces a slurry that is homogeneous in nature.

The slurry is spread via a high-pressure hose uniformly over the target area. This forms a blanket that protects the seed from poor weather and possible erosion.

The hydroseeding process makes grassing over difficult terrain, that conventional seeding methods find difficult, straightforward. Whether the target area is irregular, has slopes, hills or banks, the application process can mitigate most of the problems of evenly seeding the area.

History of Hydroseeding

Maurice Mandell, a Highway Department of Connecticut employee, developed hydroseeding in the late 1940s as a practical means of seeding highway embankments. An entrepreneur named Charlie Finn saw that it uses could be applied to residential and other settings and he was quick to introduce the first hydroseeder machine for commercial use.

Hydroseeding has been utilized extensively in the United States for erosion control reduction throughout the years, which is especially beneficial in a nation with extensive landmasses.

It has been especially effective in shelving revitalise disused quarries and mines. The 1977 Surface Mine Reclamation Act prompted the extensive use of hydro mulching. Hydro mulching was crucial because, for these machines spraying areas up to 400 feet away and 200-foot-high inclines, like those of old Appalachian coalfields, didn’t present any problems.

Commercial Hydroseeding

Hydroseeding quickly became popular because it was seen as a reasonably easy and cost-effective way of producing a lawn or grassy area. Its flexibility, in terms of grass seed mixes, cost and speedier germination times, made it particularly appealing to homeowners looking to establish or revitalise lawns.

Hydroseeded landscapes look great when they’re done right but there’s no doubt that hydroseeding is not always easy. You’ll need to know how much material you will need, what type of equipment you will be required as well as be able to adapt the mixes to local conditions.

Industrial Hydroseeding

As we have noted hydroseeding came out of an industrial use case and it is still where its true abilities lay.
It has become an important method for fighting soil erosion with many mulches specially designed to help with this process. Dust control, particularly in dry arid climates, is becoming an increasingly common as well as dealing with soil erosion and revegetation after wild fires.

Hydroseeding Contractors

Landscaping contractors and anybody who needs to plant seeds will find this approach excellent. Using hydroseeding can be a very cost effective solution. A lawn can be hydroseeded in a third of the time it takes using more traditional seeding and overseeding methods. This results in a substantial reduction in labor costs, with the process often be accomplished by just one person,  with the material cost involved being similar.

Compared to laying sod the savings are even greater with the cost being around 60% less, if employing commercial contractors,  depending on grass variety choices.

Why Is Hydroseeding Effective

Hydroseeding is effective for several reasons. The nutrient-rich slurry produced in the mix has the seed suspended within it. The germination process begins when the seed combines with the water in the machine, with each seed soaking up its water to its maximum capacity.

The mulch then acts as a moisture barrier and stabilizes the soil and also creates a protective blanket for the new seed. It is important though, to ensure that the seed is sown at the correct depth. The combination of all of these factors should create the ideal circumstances l for rapidly establishing the seed in the soil and should result in a beautiful lawn or grass area.

Summary: What is hydroseeding?

Hydroseeding is not a type of grass but a process for applying seed, generally grass to the ground. It mixes all the necessary components of seed mulch and fertilizer and is a fast and efficient way of distributing seed over the target area.

Although generally used for laying down grass as it is a process it can be used with any type of crop and is sometimes used in agricultural settings. 

Because of its flexibility, it is particularly effective for laying down seeds on difficult terrain, arid conditions as well as being able to cover large areas and deal with large scale seeding requirements. It has also proved a very effective way of dealing with soil erosion problems using specific mixes of grass seed varieties 

The nature of the process means that it might not necessarily be the best choice for grassing or laying small lawns. Although it is a cost-effective process, the bulk of the work is in the preparation of the mix which is largely the same irrespective of size.

In brief, hydroseeding is an incredibly efficient way of establishing grass areas and lawns, in most conditions at a cost comparable and often much less than traditional seeding methods, and an effective way of dealing with soil erosion and industrial revegetation..


[1] Lisa Woo Shanks, Dennis E. Moore, and Charlette Epifanio Sanders, University of California: Soil Erosion

Bio Photo - Terry Homes
Terry HolmesStaff Writer

Terry has worked in a gardening-related industry for the past 18 years and has always worked hard to ensure his clients have the best experience possible. He understands that every garden is unique, and he takes pride in creating something special for each client. He aims to create an environment where they can relax and enjoy themselves while working in their gardens. Read more

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