Do It Yourself Hydroseeding: Basics, Equipments, and Costs
We’ve all seen a bare patch of land where grass once grew, but now only contains a sad mound of dirt. Terrible, isn’t it? If you’re like many homeowners, you want to avoid that ever being your lawn. Sometimes, though, things happen. Then, you need to take care of that issue ASAP, and that’s where a hidden technique called hydroseeding comes into play.
Hydroseeding is a specialized technique that combined mulch, fertilizer, and seeds together into a slurry. From there, a high-pressure sprayer is used to spread the slurry all over your yard. This unorthodox process makes it easier for seeds to germinate, even in difficult conditions.
If you’ve ever wondered how some people manage to keep their lawns pristine, chances are they use hydroseeding. This guide will help you understand what hydroseeding is, how to do it, what you’ll need, and how much it’ll cost.
What Is Hydroseeding?
Hydroseeding is a fancy name for a fancy grass-growing method. The idea behind it is simple: you’re improving grass growth in difficult areas by giving it the nutrition and supplies it needs. Rather than plant seeds in the ground like normal, hydroseeding sprays seeds and their nutrients on the ground with a hose.
With hydroseeding, you first start off by mixing something called a “slurry.” Then, you spray the slurry over the areas of your lawn. After that, you water it regularly and watch it germinate. Since the slurry has more nutrients than regular soil, you should see your grass germinate faster.
Who Should Try Hydroseeding?
Hydroseeding is a solution that’s used for areas that are considered to be problematic. This is particularly true when it comes to areas that are prone to erosion. However, this is a technique that you can use on virtually any lawn with great results. We suggest it for larger lawns that would take a long time to seed otherwise.
Is Hydroseeding Better Than Laying Sod?
It all depends. On larger lawns, using a hydroseeding technique tends to yield similar (or better) results at a fraction of the price. After all, sod is fairly expensive. However, the one good thing sod has going for it is that you get a lawn immediately. If you need fast results and can’t wait a while, sod may be a better choice.
What Do You Need In Order To Hydroseed Your Lawn?
Hydroseeding your lawn is a somewhat involved process, at least when it comes to equipment. Here’s what you’re going to need:
- Grass Seeds. We strongly suggest that you take the time to choose your seeds. You want to pick grass seeds that are good for growing in your local environment and that are designed to sprout in season. It may be wise to ask your local lawncare store which grasses are best for hydroseeding.
- Water. That puts the “hydro” in hydroseeding.
- Hydroseeding Mulch/Regular Mulch. Fiber and paper mulches work well here. If you want to, you can choose a mulch that’s dyed green. This helps reduce the eyesore that is a brown patch of stuff, and also helps you recognize where you’ve sprayed.
- Fertilizer. Milogranite works, but you should also take a look at fertilizers that are capable of supporting grass growth at all life stages, ideally with a time-release function.
- Compost. We’re going to assume you already have a compost pile.
- Topsoil. This is a must for soil preparation.
How Much Does Hydroseeding Cost?
Here’s the tough part of the equation. If you want to use the proper equipment to distribute your slurry around the yard, things can get pretty pricey, pretty quick. The following is a run-through of your expenses for a typical hydroseeding project:
- A 5-pound bag of seeds will cost between $15 to $40 in most cases. This will be enough to cover a lawn that is 1500 square feet in size.
- Your seed accelerator will cost around $20 to $40. The accelerator will help promote germination faster.
- Topsoil will cost $1 to $2 for 40 pounds. You will need this
- The mulch can be gotten for $3 to $5 per batch. It’s an important part of your hydroseeding work.
- A professional-grade hydroseeding rental can cost as much as $300 to $700 per day. This is, of course, assuming that you want to use a pro-grade spreader.
There is some good news when it comes to the cost of hydroseeding, though. If you are open to online ordering, you can actually get DIY hydroseeding kits for a smaller fee. DIY hydroseeding kits cost between $20 to $50, depending on their size. However, these don’t always work as well as you’d hope and do not allow you to choose the grass type. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
How To Hydroseed Your Lawn: The Step-By-Step Guide
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s discuss the basics of how to hydroseed your lawn.
- Start by prepping your soil. Perform a soil test to make sure that your soil is between 6.5 to 7. If it is not, then add lime until your soil is basic enough to work with hydroseeding.
- Clear off your lawn and remove all the grass in the area that you want to hydroseed. Unlike regular grass seeding or even overseeding, hydroseeding can only be done on a lawn that is completely bald. As in, you need bare, clean dirt.
- Grade your soil. You want to remove a minimum of 2.5 to 3 inches of soil. This will prevent flooding in your home and over your pathways.
- Add topsoil and compost over your soil. This lays out a foundation of nutrients your grass seeds will need in order to truly thrive. You should add at least 3 to 4 inches of this mixture over your soil bed.
- Even out your soil. To ensure that you don’t end up having seeds pooling in tiny dips, re-grade your soil so that you have to totally smooth surface.
- Mix the seeds with fertilizer, mulch, and water. The blend you can use varies greatly, but one thing always stays the same. You want the blend to be watery rather than chunky. If it has the consistency of clam chowder, it’s way too thick. When you’re stirring it, it should feel more like miso soup.
- Add your blend to the sprayer, and spray down the lawn. If you aren’t using the dyed mulch that’s specially made for hydroseeding, you will have to remember exactly where you sprayed. Either way, you’re going to have to cover your lawn.
- Start your specialized hydroseeding maintenance routine. With hydroseeding, maintenance is everything. So, keep an eye on your maintenance.
How Should You Choose Your Hydroseed Blend?
This is a fairly loaded question, but it all comes down to your lawn’s needs. You need to make the call on whether your lawn needs a specific fertilizer, if you need more mulch, and if you need to add any other “goodies” to ensure your grass’s growth. If you are feeling lost when it comes to creating a hydroseeding blend, we strongly suggest you ask a sales rep at a lawncare store.
How Soon Should You See Results With Hydroseeding?
A good way to think of hydroseeding is “planting on steroids.” It’s possible to see your seeds sprouting in as little as a week using this technique, though some may take 10 days or longer to germinate. Most people will be able to mow their lawn within four weeks of a hydroseeding session.
How To Maintain Your Hydroseeded Lawn
If you have gone out and hydroseeded your lawn, congratulations. That’s a seriously good step in the right direction for your lawn’s health. However, the hard part just started. Here’s how you are going to have to maintain your lawn:
- During the first month after your seed spray, you have to water your lawn at least twice a day. We suggest getting automated sprinklers for this. If you live in a dry area (like Nevada) you will have to water your lawn three times a day.
- After five weeks, you can taper your lawn watering down to once a day. Your sprouted seeds won’t need as much water as the seeds that were struggling to germinate. So, after this amount of time, you can slow it down.
- Once your seeds are fully matured, you can switch to a more regular watering schedule. Fully grown grass will be able to handle being watered two times a week or so, depending on the grass breed you used.
- To keep your lawn looking lush for weeks to come, spray another round of fertilizer on your grass after six weeks. This helps boost your grass’s nutrients. We suggest getting a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for this round and subsequent rounds afterward.
Can You Add Weed Killer To A Freshly Hydroseeded Lawn?
Though hydroseeding has a reputation for growing excellent, hardy grasses, it’s not a miracle worker. Weed killers (like the ones you get in a store) are pretty harsh chemicals. They can and will damage seeds that are barely sprouted, which is why you shouldn’t spray them on a freshly seeded lawn of any sort.
You should wait until you have mowed your lawn at least twice before you add weed killer to your lawn. This is just a generally good rule of thumb to follow.
Should You Hydroseed Your Own Lawn?
It all depends on how much work you want to do. Hydroseeding is not an easy task, particularly when it comes to prepping your soil and prepping your mix. However, it’s absolutely doable if you have your heart set on it. This is an easy to moderate task as far as DIY projects go, and it could save you a pretty penny if you choose to do it on your own.
Though you could do it yourself and see good results, most people choose to hire a professional team to do this. The reason why is pretty obvious: it’s the workload.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Lawn Professionally Hydroseeded?
Obviously, this is one lawn growing method that has a pretty high price tag by default. When you have equipment that costs several hundred dollars, it’s clear that the professional route is going to cost an arm and a leg. A typical hydroseeding treatment will cost between $2,500 to $5,000 with labor included, per acre. On the low end, you might find someone to do it for $500 per acre.
Though the price tag is far higher than standard seeding practices, it’s worth noting that it’s still a whopping 70 to 50 percent cheaper than laying out sod over the same area. So, if you are looking for a quick-ish way to get a lush, professional-grade lawn without the high sod price tag, this could be a good option for you.
Do you really need topsoil for hydroseeding?
Technically, you don’t need topsoil if you want to hydroseed your lawn. However, most people will find that their results won’t turn out as good. In fact, there’s a good chance your grass won’t actually be able to fully thrive without it. Rather than take the risk of having poor results, it’s just better to act like you need the topsoil.
When is the best time to hydroseed your lawn?
Though you can give hydroseeding a try during any of the more common landscaping months, hydroseeding is best done during the early spring and early fall. Both seasons offer warm soil and light to moderate rain levels, which makes them ideal for growing new grass and nurturing your lawn.If you choose to hydroseed your lawn in the summer, be aware that the sun’s heat can help and hurt at the same time. The high UV rays can potentially dry out your soil faster. So if you choose to grow your seeds in summer’s heat, make sure that you water your lawn a couple of extra times a week.
Is it okay to walk on a hydroseeded area?
It’s not the best thing in the world, but you should be alright for the most part. Just keep your walking to a bare minimum, and only do it if it’s necessary.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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