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Is Hydroseeding the Answer to Your Lawn Problems?

The House Method team researches, reviews, and recommends a number of services, including lawn care providers. Affiliate disclosure.

If you regularly drive by an area that’s been hydroseeded, you’ve probably been impressed how that spot went from bare land covered with a greenish substance to lush grass in just a few weeks. Maybe you’ve wondered if hydroseeding is the fix your lawn needs.

Read on to learn what’s involved in hydroseeding, when it’s recommended, and whether you should think about hydroseeding your yard.

Whether your lawn needs rejuvenation or you just want someone to make sure your lawn is getting the fertilizer treatment it needs, House Method recommends TruGreen. To get a free price quote on lawn service, call 888.535.3193 or fill out the online form.

What is hydroseeding?

Hydroseeding, which is sometimes called hydromulching, involves spraying a soupy mixture onto the ground to seed an area with grass or other vegetation. The soupy mix, or hydroseeding slurry, contains several different ingredients, such as:

  • Water
  • Seeds, such as grass seeds or wildflower seeds
  • Fertilizer
  • Fibrous mulch, usually made from wood or paper
  • Tackifier, or a substance that will help the slurry stick to the ground
  • Dye, which accounts for the greenish look of land covered by hydroseeding

The seeds, fertilizer, mulch, and water play the same roles they do when you seed the traditional way. The water provides moisture needed for the seeds to germinate, the fertilizer helps stimulate root growth, and the mulch helps to hold the moisture into the soil so the seedlings don’t dry out. Just about any kind of grass seed can be used, and it’s applied at the same rate as conventional seeding methods.

While hydroseeding is typically used on commercial projects or public works projects such as areas beside the highway, it can be used on residential lawns, too.

Garden landscape

Benefits of hydroseeding

Hydroseeding machinery has been around since at least the early 1950s, and the process became more common when the US started building the interstate highway system. The new interstates cut right through hills, instead of going over or around them, and hydroseeding became a go-to method of soil erosion control on the resulting slopes.

For large projects like highways, there are some clear advantages to hydroseeding over other methods of establishing grass, like traditional seeding or laying sod.

  • The hydroseeding process is fast, and a large area can be covered much faster than with sod.
  • The hydroseeding slurry can be sprayed into areas that are difficult to reach.
  • The slurry can be mixed with the right seed for the project.
  • The process is well suited to slopes like those found near new construction projects.
  • Hydroseeding is also a good choice for areas that are exposed to high winds that could blow the seed away.
  • The hydroseeding machine can be used from a distance, so it doesn’t have to roll over the area prepared for new grass. That means there’s less concern about soil compaction.

But hydroseeding has disadvantages, too.

  • It’s more expensive than traditional broadcast seeding, although it is cheaper than sod.
  • The seeding has to be done at the right time of year or the seeds won’t germinate.
  • The area has to be watered adequately to ensure the seedlings don’t dry out.

The hydroseeding process

The steps in hydroseeding aren’t any different from planting grass seed the traditional way, except for the spraying. Whether you are hydroseeding, using traditional seeding, or laying sod, you want the seed or grass to go on welcoming soil, so you have to prepare the ground.

  • Till the ground and remove rock and debris.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter to help hold moisture and add nutrients.
  • Smooth the soil to grade with a rake and lightly firm the soil.
  • Apply the seeds. With hydroseeding, the slurry ingredients are mixed in the hydroseeding machine, with the grass seeds added last, just before the mixture is sprayed on the ground. The hydroseeding machine pumps the liquid through a hose to a spray nozzle.

Granted, the highway crew isn’t raking through the median to pull out rocks before hydroseeding, so it is possible to skimp on these steps and still get grass. However, if it’s your lawn, prepping the ground properly before hydroseeding is important to getting the thick grass you want.

Once the seeds are on the ground, you need to follow the same sort of watering regimen you’d follow for traditional methods of seeding grass. You may need to water the area two or three times a day, but water lightly and don’t let puddles form. The goal is to keep the area consistently moist to promote seed germination.

tilling lawn

Costs for hydroseeding

The price for hydroseeding your yard depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Type of grass seed used
  • Soil additives required
  • Size of the area being seeded

Hydroseeding costs generally range from six cents a square foot to 15 cents a square foot across the US, according to the International Association of Hydroseeding Professionals. For a 10,000-square-foot lawn, that comes out to somewhere between $600 and $1,500.

DIY options for hydroseeding rentals appear limited. Big-box home and garden stores don’t seem to rent out hydroseeding equipment. The rental companies that target contractors rather than homeowners do rent the pumper equipment, but it’s pricey—it comes out to about $250 a day once you figure in fees like sales tax. A 600-gallon pumper unit for hydroseeding also weighs well over a ton before you add hundreds of gallons of slurry, so it’s really not anything the average homeowner could handle.

You can find home hydroseeding kits at home improvement stores and online. With these kits, you hook the container up to a hose and spray where you want to plant grass. For instance, a product called Hydro Mousse covers up to 500 square feet and is suggested for small areas such as bare patches your dog wears in the lawn. The bad news is that the product has received mostly negative reviews from consumers, with a 1.6-star rating (out of 5 stars) with more than 1,400 reviews at Amazon.com.

Is hydroseeding the solution for you?

If your grass isn’t the thick, green carpet you crave, you might wonder if you should try hydroseeding.

Hydroseeding is typically used when you are trying to establish a new lawn. Homebuilders use it around new homes, for instance. But if you have an established yard, there may be better solutions than starting from scratch, especially since it would entail pulling out the old grass or tilling it into the ground, prepping the soil, and waiting for a full crop of grass to mature.

Here are some common lawn problems and solutions:

  • Circles of dead grass. If you have circular, yellowish patches, it could be ring spot or summer patch. You need to reduce soil compaction by aerating and make sure the lawn is properly fertilized.
  • Rings or arc of mushrooms. Called fairy rings, these can be accompanied by a ring or arc of dark green grass, with or without a band of dead turf. These are often caused by thatch accumulation. Core aeration and fertilizer will help.
  • Reddish brown powdery areas on the grass. This is rust, and it means the area is too shady, the ground is too dry, and the plants need more nitrogen. Prune surrounding landscape plants to increase the amount of light the grass gets. Watering and a light round of fertilizer will help, too.

Thin, patchy grass, with bare spots all over the lawn. Overseeding your lawn can result in thicker, better looking grass that’s better prepared to fight off disease and pests.

 
Green shrub leaves in lawn

Lawn care: DIY or hire?

Growing healthy, green grass takes a lot of work and a lot of knowledge. Unless you feel comfortable diagnosing ring spot from rust and know the cure, it makes sense to turn to a trained professional to take care of problem areas in your lawn.

DIY

  • You can be in charge of the sprinklers and the lawn mowing if you want, but following fertilizer schedules, aerating, and diagnosing lawn diseases take time and specialized equipment.

Hire

  • A lawn care service understands exactly what your lawn needs, based on the kind of grass growing and your climate. They can identify what’s causing patches, spots, and thinning and take appropriate steps to fix those problems. You might even save money because lawn professionals can fix the problem the first time, rather than you trying different remedies until you find the right solution.

Our recommendation: TruGreen

House Method recommends TruGreen as a lawn care provider. Before treating your lawn, TruGreen begins with a Healthy Lawn Analysis®✦ to determine what problems your lawn has and what corrective steps are needed. The company will then prepare a custom program to create a healthy lawn you can enjoy with family and friends.

TruGreen technicians are professionally trained and get recertified annually to ensure their knowledge is up to date. All work is backed by the company’s exclusive 100% Healthy Lawn Guarantee®◆. If you’re not satisfied, the company will return to your home as needed to make any adjustments.

TruGreen has more than 40 years of experience in servicing lawns and is the #1 professional residential lawn care service in North America.* They have a Better Business Bureau customer service rating of A+ and have been accredited since 2012.

Homeowners can choose from three different lawn service plans, depending on their needs.

  • The TruHealthSM Lawn Plan is the basic plan, covering soil amendments, weed control, and fertilization. If you yard is already in good shape, without patches or brown spots, this plan might be what you need to maintain that healthy state.
  • The TruCompleteSM Lawn Plan includes soil amendments, weed control, fertilization, and aeration. Compaction is the cause of many common lawn problems, and aeration helps to remedy a compacted lawn. This is a good level of lawn care if patches and spots are a concern.
  • The TruSignatureSM Lawn Plan is a complete yard care plan that covers all the elements of the complete lawn package plus disease and insect control for the trees and shrubs in your landscape. This is a good choice if you want your entire outdoor living space to look its best.

If your grass is patchy and thin, TruGreen may recommend overseeding, or spreading new grass seed over your existing grass to help create a denser, healthier lawn. With overseeding, you’re enhancing the existing grass, not pulling it up and starting over. Based on the type of grass already growing, the technician will suggest either a spring or fall overseeding treatment for best results.

For a free price quote on the package that suits your needs, call 888.535.3193 or fill out the online form.

FAQ: Hydroseeding

Can I walk on a hydroseeded lawn?

As with any newly planted lawn, try to limit walking on the new grass to prevent damaging the seedlings. If you walk on a newly hydroseeded area, there’s a chance your feet can cause depressions in the soil, and those could result in bare spots.

How long does it take for hydroseeded grass to grow?

That depends on the kind of grass seed used in the hydroseeding process. Some lawns may begin to germinate in about a week. It can take a month or more for the lawn to completely fill in, however. The amount of water applied to the area will also influence how quickly the grass grows, as inadequate irrigation can slow growth.

How much watering does a hydroseeded lawn need?

Newly applied grass—whether hydroseeded, traditionally sown, or sod—requires consistent moisture until the lawn is established. When the hydroseed is first applied, you might need to apply water two or three times a day. However, you don’t want to soak the area or cause puddles to form. If you don’t have a sprinkler system, a handheld garden house works fine.

When can I mow my hydroseeded lawn?

Usually you should wait until the grass is three to four inches tall. Only remove about 1/3 of the grass blade when you mow.

What is the price of hydroseeding vs. sod?

The International Association of Hydroseeding Professionals estimates hydroseeding is 60% to 75% less expensive than sod. Sod, however, gives you an instant lawn while hydroseeding requires you to wait.

Are there any disadvantages to hydroseeding?

Hydroseeding is a quick way to apply seed and fertilizer to a vacant area, but it’s not necessarily a cure-all. Once applied, the seed still needs all the care and attention that’s needed of traditionally applied seed—including keeping it moist and staying off the grass as much as possible.

Some studies also show that the seeds applied with hydroseeding don’t get as much contact with the soil as they do with conventional planting methods, which could result in a lower germination rate. Also, if you don’t keep the hydroseed mixture moist enough after it’s applied, it can form a crust that can prevent the seedlings from developing properly.

green short thick Bermuda grass lawn background

The lawn you've always wanted

Try professional lawn care services with TruGreen.

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*America’s #1 lawn care company based on U.S. market share of professional lawn care companies. 2017 NorthStar Partners U.S. Share Tracker. Purchase of full lawn plan required for Healthy Lawn Analysis, which is performed at the first visit. Guarantee applies to full plan customers only.

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