How to Use a Hydroseeder

How to Use a Hydroseeder

A hydroseeder is a machine used to spread fertilizer and seeds over a large area to establish  new grass or plants like wildflowers or groundcovers quickly and easily.  Landscapers and homeowners alike can use DIY hydroseeding to add lawn to a new space, or revitalize existing grass. 

Learning how to use a hydroseeder can be a fairly straightforward process, especially once you familiarize yourself with the machine itself, and what goes in a hydroseeder. Read on to learn the basics of how to set up a hydroseeder and use it.

1. Select the Right Hydroseeder for the Job

There are primarily two categories of hydroseeder, and they’re separated by the type of agitation used to mix the slurry inside the hydroseeder’s tank. Some hydroseeders, like Easy Lawn’s, use jet agitation to mix the slurry. This process uses pressurized water to mix the fertilizers, grass seeds, tackifiers, and dyes into the slurry that will be applied to the lawn site. 

Mechanical, or paddle agitation, is the other type of hydroseeder you’ll find on the market. These are generally used for larger, commercial-type hydroseeding projects like applying mulch or slope stabilization seed mixes to highways, sports fields, or large business parks. Mechanical agitation hydroseeders are great at breaking apart larger materials like straw or mulch, as well as handling thicker slurries. 

For this article, we’ll discuss how to use jet agitation hydroseeders, since they’re well suited for smaller landscaping needs like residential lawns.  

2. Prepare the Ground for Hydroseed

Part of learning how a hydroseeder works is understanding the proper way to prepare the ground for hydroseed. Without this step in the process, even the best applied hydroseed can turn out poorly. 

In order for hydroseed to establish well and produce great-looking results, the ground needs to be prepared carefully. Firstly, make sure there is no large debris like rocks, large sticks or stumps. Once the ground is clear of debris, loosen or aerate the soil to create a hospitable growing environment for seeds to take root. 

Taking a soil sample to test may also be useful, as the results can indicate whether, and what kind, of fertilizers may be helpful to give the seeds a strong start. Especially if grass or other plants have had trouble growing in the area in the past, understanding the soil composition will help you provide the right nutrients to help grass grow lush and thick.  

3. Load the Hydroseeder

Once the site is prepared, the next step is loading the hydroseeder. What goes in the hydroseeder, and in what order, is perhaps one of the most important steps to getting the hydroseeder loading process correct. The hydroseed mix ratio – how much seed, how much water, and how much fertilizer – plays a role in how effective the hydroseed slurry is at adhering to the site and establishing a healthy lawn. 

The amount of seed, water and fertilizer needed varies for different seed types and applications. Generally, the seeds you purchase will include instructions indicating if a specific fertilizer is recommended, as well as suggestions for the appropriate mix ratio to use for a given application process. It’s also important to select seeds and other products designed for jet agitation machines – this will help ensure the slurry is able to be mixed thoroughly and properly for consistent application. 

Once you have seeds and other materials chosen, read the hydroseed instructions carefully, as the order you load materials into the hydroseeder is important to ensure a well-mixed slurry. In general, water is added first, and should fill the tank about ⅔ of the way so the jet agitators can be turned on and cycle through before the other hydroseed materials are added. Once you’ve made sure the jets are running properly, moving the water around, you can begin to add mulch or heavier fertilizers to the tank. 

After adding water, starting with the heavier materials helps ensure they break up well enough to be applied. After mulches are in, add the seeds, fertilizers, and tackifiers in the recommended amounts and top off with any additional mulch. Run the jet agitators for 10-15 minutes, then check the tank to ensure there are no large clumps that could interfere with the spray, and you’ll be ready to start hydroseeding. 

4. Apply the Hydroseed

One of the keys to a great-looking hydroseeded lawn is even application. Using dye in the hydroseed mix helps the application go on evenly and consistently, since it makes it easy to see where the mix has been sprayed. 

There are two main spraying techniques that can be used when applying hydroseed: spraying downward toward the ground or spraying outwards. Both methods can be used with reliably successful results, provided the mix is correct and the seeds are properly cared for after application. 

5. Clean the Hydroseeder

Once application is complete, cleaning the hydroseeder will help prevent clogs and speed up preparation for the next time. To clean the hydroseeder, refill the tank with freshwater and, if it’s an option, respray the hydroseed area to ensure all the materials are out of the tank, and the area is properly watered. If the area is already very wet, you may need to use another location to flush the hydroseeder and avoid supersaturating the fresh hydroseed.

Once the tank is empty, check to see if there’s any debris left inside and spray it out with a hose. If it looks like there’s still seed or mulch in the system, flush it with water again. Once complete, drain the hoses and leave the tank hatch open so the machine can dry, if it’s going to be a few days between jobs. 

Hydroseed Care & Maintenance

What happens directly after hydroseed is applied can make or break the success of any lawn project. It’s very important for the seeds to stay moist and that foot traffic is prevented in the area. Make sure homeowners are aware of this and have sprinkler systems set up to automatically water the area if possible, or that they have a way to water the area thoroughly several times a day, either via hose or sprinkler. 

The first few weeks after application are critical, because this is the time the seeds will be germinating and beginning to sprout. If the site dries out or is disturbed too much during this period, seeds can be stunted or even die completely.  

Takeaway

Setting up a hydroseeder for DIY hydroseeding can be a rewarding process that can give you a healthy green lawn for years to come. Especially once you know a few things about what goes in a hydroseeder and how the application process works, you can make the right choice for you and your lawn project – whether that ends up being a DIY option, or hiring it out to an experienced landscaper with hydroseeding know-how. For more information on hydroseeding and how it works, contact us

Chris Drummond

Chris has been involved in the construction and landscape industry for over a decade. For the last 7 years, he has specialized in helping landscaping contractors grow their business by adding hydroseeding to their offering. Chris is passionate about building relationships with his customers and sharing in their success as they grow their business.