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Is Hydroseeding Right for Your Business?

There are different ways to create a lawn, but Dave Johnson, president of International Association of Hydroseeding Professionals (IAHP) and owner of Carolina HydroSeeding Inc., appreciates hydroseeding for its versatility and value.

“Hydroseeding is a no-brainer when it comes to economically getting grass to establish,” he says. “When compared to sod or traditional seeding in a residential or commercial area, on an interstate [or at an] airport or school, hydroseeding is the most economical choice.”

For landscaping professionals, hydroseeding is a process by which seed, water, fertilizer, fiber mulch and sometimes lime are blended together in a tank and applied to a prepared lawn area through a spraying hose. Once sprayed, the wet fiber mulch bonds to the soil and provides seeds with a water-retaining coat while protecting them from sunlight, wind and erosion. As the grass seeds begin to germinate, the fiber mulch slowly decomposes, adding nutrients to the soil.

Here are some things to know if you’re thinking about offering hydroseeding services:

Although hydroseeding is more costly than seed and straw, Randall Richards, owner of CEN TEX Hydroseed Inc. in Bedias, Texas, says you’re going to see a more even, established lawn once the seed germinates.

Johnson also mentions that because the hydroseeding mulch acts as a sponge to help retain moisture, it gives the seed a better chance for germination and reduces the amount of water needed for establishment. In addition, if you put biostimulants in the soil, you’ll get faster germination and a much healthier lawn more quickly than with broadcast seed and straw, says Rob Yoakum, director of IAHP.

“The grass seed has availability to a lot more nutrients and growth enhancers above and beyond normal fertilizers,” he says. “It’s quicker.”

Plus, if you realize you need to adjust your soil’s nutrients or pH balance, hydroseeding can save you steps, Yoakum says, because it allows you to add whatever you need into the hydroseeding mix.

Instant Gratification
Many clients desire a finished look immediately and are willing to pay the extra money it takes to lay sod. And because hydroseeding takes a few weeks before you see results, Todd Brown, the general manager of Fockele Garden Company in Gainesville, Ga., says many clients might not want to wait or risk the seed not coming up right.

Brown says if your client wants the best of both worlds, he sees many commercial jobs planting sod in the primary area to get the familiar refined look immediately and seeding the secondary areas, where the instant visual effect isn’t as important, but it allows them to save money.

Labor Requirements
Because it’s applied with a long-range spray from a hose, Yoakum says hydroseeding saves a great deal of time for contractors and landscapers who are used to a drill seeder or a broadcast seeder, which require running the length of the planting site.

“You can park the hydroseeder on the street, and the hose reaches 200 feet and can spray 30 feet,” he says. “It’s great for large lawns, and it’s very quick, too. The labor savings are huge.”

Plus, with drill seeding or broadcast seed and straw, Yoakum says you would spend a lot of time prepping a good seedbed by pulverizing the soil so that it’s lump-free. This isn’t as critical with hydroseeding because it coats everything.

Environmental Considerations
Yoakum says there can be some environmental concerns when it comes to some methods. With seed and straw, the wind can blow the straw, which creates many small particulates in the air. Also, because sod sometimes isn’t installed correctly and straw or erosion-control blankets can tent, the soil can easily wash downstream during a rainstorm. However, this is less of a concern with some types of hydroseeding, such as those that contain tackifiers, as the soil is bonded and remains intact, Yoakum says. 

Johnson says these erosion-controlling attributes make it especially beneficial for hillsides. “If a storm comes through, the soil is strongly attached and the water runs over it,” he says.

If you’re thinking of offering hydroseeding as a service but are unsure if you can make the financial investment of buying a hydroseeder, Yoakum recommends renting one. You can then see if you experience enough customer demand to make it a full-time service.

“You don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t have to be certified,” Yoakum says. “We have quite a bit of landscapers out there who are part-time hydroseeders.”


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