The Comprehensive Guide to Hydroseeding Your Lawn
Seeding a new lawn is like working with a blank canvas. With the right balance of grasses and soil composition, you have the opportunity to grow and nourish a lawn that showcases your home and elevates your outdoor living space.
Overall, you have three main options when looking to grow your lawn from the ground up, whether you work with a professional or plan to tackle the project on your own. These include hydroseeding, traditional seeding, and laying sod.
Hydroseeding is one of the most popular and cost-efficient methods for planting a lawn tailored to your local climate. The process is less expensive than laying sod and far less labor-intensive than traditional seeding. While it is quite possible to take the DIY hydroseeding approach, professional assistance will cut down on errors and purchasing equipment.
We’ll help you understand the perks of hydroseeding, how it works, and how to tackle the process on your own.
What is Hydroseeding?
Think of hydroseeding as a modern method for giving your lawn everything it needs from day one. Much like traditional seeding, the seeds are planted in fresh soil, but in this case, the seeds are not alone. Instead, a balanced mixture of seed varieties, fertilizer, water, mulch, and biostimulants are spread across fresh soil to encourage healthy and quick germination.
The hydroseeding formula ensures that the seeds are fed, evenly distributed, and protected from elements like wind and erosion. After one to two weeks of regular watering, a healthy lawn will begin to grow across the area.
The Benefits of Hydroseeding
This happy middle ground between seeding and laying sod makes it a favorite pick for many homeowners and landscapers alike. Hydroseeding allows you to choose the most eco-conscious grasses native to your area as well as save money throughout the process. From start to finish, you have more control over the finished look of your lawn.
The main perks of hydroseeding include:
- Greater flexibility in mixing seed varieties for a balanced, healthy lawn. Sod is known to dry out and laying traditional seed can end up patchy, requiring multiple layers for a lush look.
- Hydroseeding is a less labor-intensive process than hand-seeding
- With a larger lawn, it costs much less than laying sod.
- Hydroseeding can be completed on your own, albeit with proper machinery.
- This process is more resilient in the long run than laying sod
- Sodding often leaves unnatural seams in your lawn, which hydroseeding is far more uniform.
Cons of Hydroseeding
Hydroseeding is not right for every property, especially if you’re taking on the project by yourself. While it may seem like the quickest and most error-proof method, in some cases, it’s simply not worth the cost.
For example, some of the downfalls of hydroseeding include:
- The process uses a lot of water and labor after the seed has been spread, even for several months.
- Hydroseeding is typically not cost-effective for smaller lawns when your take a DIY approach. The cost of the machine is typically only justifiable for larger areas.
- Unlike sod, your lawn must be protected as it grows, meaning that it has to be able to protect against foot traffic.
- Hydroseeding is best in the late spring and early summer, so it must be intricately planned with the right climate.
Hydroseeding vs. Seeding
The least expensive and simplest route to plant grass is the traditional seeding process. In this case, grass seeds are layered across the soil with a manual seed spreader. All watering, fertilization, and maintenance are performed step-by-step, leaving more room for error.
Not only is seeding trickier for those without extensive landscape experience, but it also takes much longer to acquire that fully grown lawn that is ready for use. You will typically need to avoid walking a seeded lawn until the grass is evenly grown.
Hydroseeding cuts down the guesswork of seeding without the pre-grown sod. Seeding may not require as many materials upfront, but it is considered less cost-effective for larger areas.
Hydroseeding vs. Sod
Let’s say you need to use your new lawn immediately or prefer not to wait for that polished look. Perhaps it’s impossible to block off the area as it grows from foot traffic or the ongoing maintenance of hydroseeding is simply not an option.
Laying sod involves installing a pre-grown layer of grass that naturally blends with the given soil. As soon as it’s rolled out and watered, it can be tread upon at your leisure. As you can imagine, this far more convenient method is also much more expensive, ranging in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Choosing sod does cut down on your options, however. Choosing the right mixture of grass breeds can protect your lawn from pests and disease, but pre-grown sod locks you into what is already included.
Step-by-Step Hydroseeding Guide
If you choose to tackle hydroseeding on your own, work like the pros by ensuring you have everything in place before the process begins. You can often find a range of simple hydroseeding machines online or at your local hardware or landscape provider.
Even if you’re in a hurry to get that green lawn growing, be sure to have the right climate, seed mixture, and soil conditions before laying down the mixture.
Select the Season
As you probably suspected, the beginning of the warm season in your region is the best time to hydroseed your lawn. For most parts of the country, this ideal time falls in mid to late spring, typically around April and May. Most importantly, be sure to wait at least two weeks after the last frost before planting any new seeds.
In ideal conditions, you’ll want to grow your grass between 65 and 75 degrees with a moderate amount of rainfall. You can also choose to grow your grass from soil in the summer or early fall, but since the soil must remain hydrated, it could be harder to water during this time.
Check Your Soil
At least once a year, it’s important to check the health of your soil to ensure that your lawn can maintain a healthy balance during extreme weather and other threats. This is particularly important before growing seed for the first time, but can also help you maintain your lawn over the years.
Purchase an at-home soil test and remove a section of your soil to test its pH level. If the result does not fall between 6.5 and 7, treat your soil with ground limestone, sulfur, or organic material before planting.
Choose Your Seed
Every planting region in the country has its own ideal mixture of grasses. Choosing the best combination fights off fungus, pests, overthatching, and extreme weather. For example, living in a hot and dry region will not have the same grass mixture as those in a region with frigid winters.
Determine your grass mixture based on:
- Yard foot traffic
- Risk of erosion on your property
- Your region’s temperature at the peak of each season
- Local pests
- Amount of shade or direct sunlight in your lawn
Collect Your Tools
Speak with a local hardware or landscape specialist to ensure you have the correct hydroseeder for the size of your lawn. We highly recommend working with a professional in the early stages if you plan to take on the job yourself. It’s important to note, however, that hiring an experienced team is often the most cost-efficient route overall.
While small handheld sprayers that attach to your garden hose provide less-expensive options for small properties, hydroseeding a full lawn typically requires a hydraulic hydroseeding machine. For this reason, hydroseeding makes much more sense for larger lawns—otherwise, you end up with a costly machine for a small, one-time job.
The machine will typically feature a tank for combining the slurry of hydroseeding substance and water. A hydraulic pump will then send the mixture through a hose for easy application.
Grade Away From Your Home
When laying seed or fertilizer, it’s important to grade the soil with a slope away from any structures on your property. This protects moisture and seed from slowing toward your foundation, which could lead to mold and other unnecessary moisture around important structures.
Use a rake or gardening hoe to ensure a slight slope away from each major structure, especially around its closest perimeter.
Prep the Ground
Before the seed hits the ground, make sure the area is prepped and ready to support it as best as possible. This means:
- Removing any weeds and grasses
- Adding a two-inch layer of topsoil and/or compost
- Re-grading your soil to ensure it is smooth and even after these additions
Mix and Apply Hydroseed
Follow the detailed instructions on your hydroseed mixture and hydroseeder to combine the slurry just before use. The tank will agitate the mixture, ensuring it’s ready for use.
When it’s ready, spray an even layer of the mixture across your lawn, ensuring to cover every inch as evenly as possible. Most mixtures will include a green dye to help you determine where the mixture has been sprayed.
Caring for a Hydroseeded Lawn
Now that seed, fertilizer, and mulch mixture are settled into your soil, it’s your job to keep it safe from foot traffic and from drying out.
Create a perimeter around your lawn to ensure that pets and visitors stay on your lawn for about two months. This allows the seed to properly take root without becoming too compacted into the ground or redistributing and leading to patchy soil.
Additionally, the first two to three weeks after hydroseeding will require several applications of water a day to keep the seeds moist. You should be able to cut down on watering after this initial period unless the sun and heat in your area are particularly harsh.
Working with a Hydroseeding Professional
While hydroseeding aims to take the guesswork out of growing a lawn, taking the DIY approach can still run the risk of expensive and frustrating error.
Cut down on confusion and overspending by working with a TruGreen specialist to hydroseed your lawn. With millions of trusted clients across the country, TruGreen offers eco-conscious solutions to both landscape care and lawn pest control.
The team will analyze your soil, choose the optimal seed mixture, and boost the mixture with appropriate fertilizers and mulch to ensure a successful application. Taking the professional route also cuts out the need to purchase or rent your own hydroseeding machine, by far the most costly element of the process.
Speak with a trusted TruGreen landscape expert today for a free hydroseeding quote for your unique property.