What Is Hydro Seeding? 11 Things (2023) You Should Know

Hydro seeding is a high-quality, efficient, and inexpensive way to seed your lawn.

We know…it sounds too good to be true, right?

When property owners find out hydro seeding exists, they normally want to know what their options are.

Can they do it to a brand-new lawn?

Can it help them repair an existing, older lawn?

Are there times when hydro seeding works better than others?

We’re here to answer all those questions and more.

1. What is hydro seeding?

Hydro seeding is when you combine a mixture called a “slurry” in a hydro seeder tank and apply that mixture to the intended surface using high pressure.

The hydro seeder keeps the slurry — a mix of seed, mulch, fertilizer, soil amendments, and water — evenly mixed, so it can do its job.

The slurry application prompts quick seed germination, and it also stops erosion in its tracks. 

2. How does hydro seeding grass work?

Did you know that you can hydro seed all on your own?

Some people prefer to hire a professional to hydro seed for them.

However, it’s possible to DIY with hydroseeding.

Read through the steps below to see if this is something you want to do on your own.

bulletChoose a grass species

Once you begin your research, you’ll recognize that there are numerous grass species (and blends of grass) that you can choose from.

Your seed selection should be based on a couple of different factors like your location and the qualities of the grass.

Depending on where you live, you may want your grass to be heat, disease, and drought-resistant.

It’s important to think through this selection the first time.

Hydro seeding isn’t cheap, and you don’t want to have to purchase all your materials over again because you messed it up the first time.

bulletPerform a soil test

You’ll have trouble growing grass at all if the soil is too alkaline or acidic.

You should test the soil to make sure the pH is between 6.5 and 7.

Depending on how it tests, you can use lime, sulfur, or compost to adjust it.

bulletApply hydro seed to the bare soil

Hydro seed should only be applied to bare soil.

So, you should prep your land by removing rocks, weeds, or other debris that can inhibit the hydro seed from reaching the soil.

bulletGrade the soil

Grade the soil about 3 inches to prevent the slurry from going outside the area where it might damage nearby structures.

bulletApply a 2-inch layer of topsoil and compost

Put down a 2-inch layer of topsoil and compost.

This will provide the necessary nutrients for the lawn to thrive.

bulletPrep the hydro seeder

The hydro seeder machine is used to mix all the ingredients into a slurry.

Turn on the tool’s agitator to do this.

bulletApply the seed using the sprayer

Apply the seed by using the sprayer and hydraulic machine.

This can be a messy process but feel confident in the fact that the mix is nontoxic at the very least.

bulletMaintain the area

Grass should begin to grow in the area in roughly 3 to 4 days.

However, it will still be fragile during this time, and you’ll need to nurture it to ensure it has time to establish its root system.

Rope off the area for 4 to 6 weeks so there is no foot traffic.

You should also limit grass to only light use during the next 3 to 4 months.

3. Does hydro seeding really work?

Yes, hydro seeding is an effective way to establish quick ground cover.

Although, it isn’t as quick as laying sod.

It also allows you to protect your land and control erosion over large areas for both commercial and residential use.

4. Can you hydro seed an existing lawn?

It’s not recommended that you hydro seed over an existing lawn.

If you want to use hydro seeding as your method, then you should completely redo your lawn or use the “overseeding” method.

This is when you power rake and then broadcast seed.

5. What are the benefits of hydro seeding?

bulletCost-effective

bulletQuality grass

bulletErosion control

bulletWeed prevention

bulletProfessional application

6. Is hydro seeding right for your lawn?

When should you consider hydro seeding your lawn?

If you’ve never used this method before, you may worry that it only works in certain scenarios.

Here are the top circumstances when you should use it.

bulletLarge slopes on construction sites

bulletSeeding in places that would be difficult to seed manually

bulletHighway medians

bulletRevegetating burned areas

bulletPlaying fields

bulletLarge grassy areas around industrial complexes, office parks, and schools

bulletStabilizing waterside slopes

bulletHomes with large yards

7. What’s the difference between hydro seeding and hydro mulching?

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.

Hydro seeding involves using a slurry of mulch, seed, fertilizers, water, and other amendments to create vegetation.

The mix includes both the necessary seed, fertilizer, and mulch.

Hydro seeding intends to create vegetation that will provide an attractive ground cover and erosion control.

This is especially useful on slopes or areas that have been damaged by land disturbances like construction or wildfire.

Hydro seeding can also be a good resource when you’re trying to create ground cover for residential yards.

That said, because it’s a fairly expensive method, it’s often reserved for larger areas.

On the other hand, hydro mulching (also known as spray mulching) contains no seed.

Rather, it consists of a mulch and tackifier.

Hydro mulching is designed to provide a temporary barrier to the bare earth to enhance erosion control.

Hydro mulch can be as much as 100 percent cellulose, which is made of recycled cellulose fibers.

However, you can also find higher-quality hydro mulch that is taken from wood chips.

Some hydro mulches will also consist of a blend of cellulose and wood fibers.

8. What types of mulch are used in hydro seeding slurry?

While hydro mulching and hydro seeding aren’t the same, there is mulch used in the slurry for hydro seeding.

Here are the different types of mulch used for hydro seeding.

The good news is that each mulch fits a specific need, so if you’re looking for something specific out of your hydro seeding process, then you’ll be able to find it.

bulletPaper mulch

Paper mulch is an affordable mulch additive.

It’s great for applications where the price is the number one concern.

If you don’t need a super high-quality slurry, then paper mulch is plenty effective.

It’s often used in flat open fields around industrial areas or highway medians as well as some yards.

bulletWood fiber mulch

This is a much more expensive type of mulch compared to paper.

However, it’s also purposeful.

It does a much better job of preventing erosion and promoting vegetation growth.

If this is your goal, it can be worth the investment.

Wood mulch is an awesome selection for slopes or premium lawns.

bulletWood/paper blend

Mulch blends are also available.

Typically, this is at a ratio of 70 percent wood and 30 percent paper mulch.

At this ratio, you get better erosion control and promote better grass growth than paper mulch.

However, you also maintain a much more affordable price than if you go with 100 percent wood fiber mulch.

bulletStraw hydro mulch

This type of mulch requires less water, and it’s also easier to load into the sprayer.

With straw hydro mulch, there’s a much more uniform coverage than either paper or wood.

As a result, if you’re interested in growing a lush yard, then it’s a hard option to pass up.

bulletErosion control mulch

As its name would suggest, this type of mulch targets erosion specifically.

If you want to control erosion on slopes or waterside areas, then this should be your go-to.

9. What are the types of hydro grass used in hydro seeding slurry?

Hydro grass seed isn’t a type of grass seed.

It’s a way of distributing the seed, and therefore, any seed can be selected as spray-on grass seed.

Here are the appropriate grass species that you can choose from.

What you select will largely depend on climate.

bulletFescue – one of the most common in the country because of its deep root system and adaptability to various climates

bulletPerennial ryegrass – a type that germinates faster than other grass and helps erosion control

bulletKentucky bluegrass – an expensive and high-maintenance type of grass that’s primarily used for premium residential lawns

bulletCentipede grass – a heat-tolerant and low-maintenance type of grass that’s optimal for erosion control

bulletZoysia – this grass is great for choking out weeds and enduring high traffic but not great for erosion control

bulletBermuda grass – a popular species for hydro seeding because it’s drought resistant and grows faster than any other grass type

bulletWildflower – an alternative to grass that’s often used on slopes and hilltops to beautify an area

10. What are the types of fertilizers used?

There are numerous different types of fertilizers used in slurry mixes.

Often, a high phosphorus fertilizer is used to promote the rapid growth of new lawns.

Phosphorous helps to stimulate root growth and provides the right base for a lush lawn.

You can also use a balanced 19-19-19 mix that includes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

This is a great option.

The higher the number of the mix, the less filler there is in the fertilizer.

Fertilizer is important when hydro seeding.

New seedlings don’t have established roots, and as a result, they aren’t able to absorb nutrients as effectively.

To encourage healthy growth, your lawn should be fertilized frequently.

Once your lawn germinates, you should use a turf builder (consisting of mostly nitrogen) about 4 to 6 weeks later to promote good top growth.

About 8 weeks later, you should apply a second treatment.

11. What should you know before you begin?

Hydro seeding can help you revive your lawn and strengthen the topsoil.

Doing this will result in strong and healthy growth in the future.

However, there are times when sod and dry seeding may be a better option for your lawn.

Here’s what you should know before you start hydro seeding.

bulletHydro seeding costs less than sod, but it isn’t an instant solution

Hydro seeding normally costs $0.06 to $0.20 per square foot.

The exact pricing will vary depending on factors like grass type, soil additives, and extreme climates.

It can take 30 to 40 days for your lawn to come in after hydro seeding.

Additionally, you’ll have to take some precautions to ensure the grass comes in correctly.

For example, you should keep all foot traffic off the hydro seed area until the seeds germinate.

You also can’t mow your grass until 4 to 6 weeks after you seed your lawn.

Many people find that hydro seeding strikes the ideal balance between managing costs and getting grass in fairly quickly.

If you want an instant lawn, sod is a better option.

However, sod is also much more expensive at $1 to $2 per square foot.

bulletHydro seeding works best in certain areas

Hydro seeding is a specialized process, and as a result, the cost may not be worth it for small areas.

You’ll want to use hydro seeding in the following spaces:

  1. Large areas with 3,500 square feet of lawn or more
  2. Steep slopes where sod lawn or other germination techniques won’t work
  3. Areas with lots of soil erosion from wind, water, or pests

While hydro seeding does require specialized equipment, you save money on labor costs.

You don’t need a whole landscaping crew to seed, fertilize, water, and mulch an area.

Instead, the materials are applied in a single pass.

bulletHydro seeding requires lots of water

Don’t skimp on the water in the early stages.

A seedbed must be kept moist for an extended period to help germination.

This can be pricey, but it’ll help guarantee success.

You should budget several hundred dollars for water for a hydroseeded lawn.

For the first 2 weeks, you’ll need to program your sprinkler to water 3-4 times per day for at least 15 minutes.

Over the next couple of weeks, you should continue to water your lawn, gradually decreasing in frequency but increasing in duration.

After about a month, your lawn will need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.

This is the average amount necessary for a regular lawn, but it will vary depending on the grass type.

bulletHydro seeding thrives in the spring and fall

Spring and fall are the best seasons for hydro seeding for a couple of reasons.

Warm soil and moderate rain are great for helping young grass seedlings to develop deep, healthy roots.

If you plant in the spring, you’ll have to be mindful of the upcoming summer heat.

While this will help the grass germinate and grow faster, you’ll likely have to water it more often.

Hydro seeding in the winter isn’t recommended because the grass is typically dormant and won’t germinate until the temperature increases.

bulletHydro seeding isn’t the best DIY landscaping project

Hydro seeding isn’t impossible to take on, but it also isn’t easy.

The slurry can be challenging to mix when you lack the specialized equipment that professionals have.

You want to make sure you have the proper blend of grass seed, mulch, water, and fertilizer so that the hydro seeding works well.

Depending on your state, you may even be required to have licensure to apply some of the additives in the hydro seeding mixture.

Make sure you do your research when deciding who to work with.

Most landscapers who advertise hydro seeding aren’t actually during it themselves because the equipment is expensive.

They’ll outsource and charge you extra for acting as the middleman.

Final Thoughts

Hydro seeding is an effective way to grow grass, cover an area, and create erosion control.

It’s used in both commercial and residential areas.

Landowners love it because it’s affordable and less labor-intensive than planting sod while also producing quicker results and higher success rates than hand seeding.

That said, there are still times when sod and hand seeding have a role in your lawn, so make sure you evaluate the best next step for you and your yard.

Additional Resources

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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants, or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.

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