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Hydroseeding 101: What is HydroSeeding?


what-is-hydroseeding-pictureHydroSeeding is a process where seed and any combination of fertilizer, lime, biostimulants, moisture retention polymers, tackifiers, and other additives are combined with water and a hydroseeding mulch to form a slurry that is sprayed onto the ground to establish vegetation and control erosion.

These ingredients are mixed in a truck or trailer mounted tank that contains either a jet agitation system or a mechanical agitation system which creates a homogenous slurry that is then transported to the job site and sprayed over prepared ground in a uniform layer.

What are the benefits of Hydroseeding?

HydroSeeding offers many advantages over conventional seeding processes.

The benefits of hydroseeding are:

  • Quicker, more uniform germination
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Superior erosion control.

Virtually any grass or ground cover that can be planted by seed can be HydroSeeded. This includes any sun or shade lawn seed, athletic field mixes, pasture mixes, native grasses, wildflowers, roadside mixes and erosion control mixes. In order to provide this type of lawn service, it's important to find high-quality HydroSeeding Equipment for sale to offer outstanding performance.

How HydroSeeding Works

The key to the effectiveness of HydroSeeding is the mulch that acts as the growth medium for the seed. When the right mulch is applied at appropriate rates, the mulch provides moisture retention for faster germination, insulation from temperature extremes to prevent seed dormancy, and protection from erosion. Unlike hay or straw that is frequently specified on seeding jobs, HydroSeeding mulch contains no weed seed.

The HydroSeeding slurry can be adjusted with various additives to create the ideal growth environment for the seed. The other big advantage versus conventional seeding methods is the labor savings. This is because all of the ingredients that you want to apply to the seed bed are combined into the slurry and applied at the same time.

Conventional seeding methods typically require each ingredient to be applied one at a time.  The HydroSeeding mulch breaks down and becomes part of the soil. Straw or hay is usually applied over conventional seeding applications and will need to be collected and removed once the lawn is established.

Types of Mulch That Can Be Included in a Hydroseeding Slurry

There are several different types of HydroSeeding mulches available today and the selection is constantly growing. Each type of mulch has its place, whether it is tacking straw, low cost lawn establishment, premium lawn establishment, slope stabilization, severe erosion control, or daily cover on landfills.

Price, application, and local availability usually are the driving factors in choosing the ideal HydroSeeding mulch. HydroSeeding mulch usually comes in 40 - 50 pound bales and contains a dye to help you achieve an even application.  Most mulches come in a compressed bale that must be broken up by hand or by the HydroSeeding/HydroMulching machine.  Some mulches are manufactured with a special process that allows them to be poured into the tank. Additionally, some mulches contain additives such as synthetic fibers or tackifiers. Check out a list of some of the more common HydroSeeding mulches on the market today. 

  • Paper Mulch
  • Wood Fiber Mulch
  • Wood/Paper Blend Mulch
  • Pourable Mulch
  • Straw Mulch
  • Cotton Fiber Mulch
  • Erosion Control Mulch - BFM's, FRM's, EFM's, SMM's, etc.
  • Alternate Daily Cover - Used on the working face of landfills

Jet Agitation vs. Mechanical Agitation

One of the biggest decisions you must make when purchasing a HydroSeeding or HydroMulching machine is what type of agitation system you will need. There are two types of agitation systems from which you will have to choose...Jet Agitation and Paddle Agitation.

Pros & Cons of Jet Agitation Systems

Jet Agitation systems utilize a centrifugal pump for both mixing and spraying operations on the HydroSeeding machine.  The pump must be run the entire time you are using the machine. A portion of the pump's output is directed back into the tank through a series of jets to facilitate mixing of the mulch, seed, fertilizer, etc. that you will be putting in the tank. The remainder of the pump's output is used to push the material through the hose so that it can be applied to the ground.  

Easy to use & Low Cost of Ownership

Jet agitation systems are very easy to use because there are minimal moving parts or controls to contend with.  You simply put water in the tank and start the engine...the pump does the rest.  Because they are simple with few moving parts, Jet Agitation HydroSeeding Equipment is less expensive to own and operate than their Paddle Agitation counterparts.  

Limitations of Jet Agitation

There are some limitations to Jet Agitation systems, however.  Jet Agitation machines were primarily designed to run paper fiber hydroseeding mulch. Paper mulch has very short fiber length and quickly absorbs the maximum amount of water that it can handle.  This makes its performance in a jet agitation machine very predictable.

If you add the correct amount of mulch, you should have trouble free operation.  Many job conditions demand other types of mulch that are much less predictable.  Wood fiber mulch is frequently specified on jobs where erosion is a serious concern or where temperature extremes and moisture availability are issues. Wood fiber mulch has longer fiber length which in some cases can cause clogging in a Jet Agitation system.  Wood fiber mulch continues to absorb water and swell the longer it sits in the tank, which can also lead to clogging issues.  

Some Jet Agitation systems can handle mixtures of wood and paper mulch, but no jet agitation machine can regularly spray 100% wood fiber mulch unless the slurry is thinned down to a point where you might as well not have any mulch in the tank at all.  Jet Agitation HydroSeeding Equipment has its place in the industry, even with these limitations.  In many parts of the country, paper fiber mulch is the primary mulch used on residential and small commercial jobs...and with the lower cost of ownership of Jet Agitation HydroSeeding Equipment, they are frequently the machine of choice for contractors that are just getting into the HydroSeeding industry.

benefits of aggressive paddle agitation for hydroseedersBenefits of Paddle Agitation Systems

Paddle Agitation Systems have a shaft that runs the length of the tank with steel paddles mounted on it.  The paddles are driven by belts and pulleys that are connected to the engine, or by a hydraulic system.  The big advantage to Paddle Agitation Systems is their ability to mix any type of mulch.  Whether you are mixing paper mulch, wood fiber mulch, cotton fiber mulch, or BFM's, a Paddle Agitation System can handle it.  

Designed to Spray & Mix Thick Slurries

In addition to the ability to spray any kind of mulch, Paddle Agitation Systems can mix thicker slurries than Jet Agitation Systems.  This means that for the same size machine, you can fit more mulch in the tank and therefore you can spray more area per load.  The spray pump on machines with Paddle Agitation Systems is used only to apply the materials to the ground, not to mix the slurry. While these machines are quite capable in terms of the products they can mix, they are also much more complex than Jet Agitation HydroSeeding Equipment.  

The Methods of Powering Paddles

There are two methods of powering the paddles on a Paddle Agitation System.  One method, frequently called Mechanical Paddle Agitation, uses a combination of belts, pulleys, and a clutch to drive the paddles.  The other system is called Hydraulic Paddle Agitation and it uses a hydraulic motor to drive the paddles.  There is a secondary drive system that powers the spray pump.  One of the following three methods for driving the spray pump can be found on various machines.  One method uses belts, pulleys and a clutch.  An alternate method is to direct drive the pump which also requires a clutch.  The third method is to hydraulically drive the spray pump.  As you can see, cost of ownership is going to be higher on a machine with a Paddle Agitation system.  In return for the increased cost, you get a machine with much greater capability.  You won't have to turn down a job because your machine isn't capable of mixing the mulch that is required. 

Contact Epic

Get started on HydroSeeding and HydroMulching by checking out equipment for sale by Epic! Contact us today and we can help you determine with HydroSeeding and HydroMulching machine will best fit your needs.



*Updated May 11, 2018