Hydroseeding is really a pretty simple process. Water, seed, fertilizer, and a protective mulch is mixed in a tank and sprayed on the ground.
The first known hydroseeding unit was built by the state of Connecticut long ago. It was a jet-type system that used peat moss as the mulch agent. When the interstate highway system was started during the Eisenhower administration, there was a change in how roads were built. All of a sudden, roads, went through hills instead of over them or around them. Conventional seeding techniques could not seed the steep hillsides created by highway construction, and hydroseeding was the answer. Something else happened too: People noticed the grass that was planted with hydroseeding grew faster and better.
The early hydroseeding machines worked well, but were expensive enough that only big seeding jobs could be economically justified. In the last decade, though, more affordable machines have come on the market, and the advantages of hydroseeding are affordable to most any seeding professional.
Let's look at what exactly is in the mix that's sprayed onto a hydroseeding job:
Seed used in a hydroseeder doesn't need to be anything special. Nearly any seed can be used and at the same application rates as other seeding methods. These can include grass or lawn seeds, wildflowers, pasture seed, seed for athletic fields, and seeds for erosion control, such as crown vetch.
Fertilizer is usually used in the mix. A high phosphorus "starter" fertilizer that will stimulate root growth is the most commonly used.
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Water in the mix acts as a carrier, and the contact of the seed and the water will jump start the growth process. When extra-fast germination is desired, it's also possible to pre-germinate seed for even faster growth.
Hydroseeding mulch is what gives the mixture its green color. It does more than just make it pretty; it helps protect the seed and seal in moisture. It may be made from a paper or wood product or a mix. If any accidentally gets on your walkways, driveway, or house, it will not stain and can be washed off, or it will just disappear on its own.
Other products that may be added to a hydroseeding mix are products called tackifers that help hold the materials on a hillside in rainy conditions. They also help seal moisture in to the soil and to lubricate the hydroseeding machine. A lime-based product is added if the pH needs correcting.