Spray on Grass Seed for Your Lawn (Hydroseeding)
As the lawn plays such an important role in the look of our homes, it’s easy to see why many of us spend so much time trying to achieve a green, lush lawn. The first step is planting and growing grass. In this guide, we’ll explore spray on grass seed, also known as hydroseeding, as an option for growing a perfect lawn.
You’ll learn how spray on grass seed works and what hydroseeding products are on the market for residential use, such as Hydro Mousse. We’ll help you determine whether hydroseeding, sod, or grass seed is the best fit for your home.
No matter what method you use to grow your lawn, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to maintain a beautiful yard. We know that not everyone has the time to mow, water, and fertilize their lawns on the recommended schedule. If you don’t have time for proper lawn maintenance, we recommend TruGreen for your lawn care needs. You can get a free quote from TruGreen by calling 1-866-817-2172 or filling out the online form.
Editor’s Pick: TruGreen
- Serves 2.3 million customers across the U.S.
- Offers a variety of different lawn care plans
- Option to add pest control services
- Quality workmanship and results are guaranteed
What is spray on grass seed?
Spray on grass seed, known as hydroseeding, is a method of applying grass seed to soil using a mixture of grass seed, water, fiber mulch, and other additives such as fertilizers. Often a tackifier or bonding agent is also used to better hold the mixture together. This slurry mixture can also be applied to existing lawns without the grass seed, known as hydromulching.
Hydromulching is usually used to help combat erosion. The two terms, however, are often used interchangeably, as a spray on grass seed can also help with erosion control.
$24.99 per 100 sq. ft.
- Easy to use
- Results are seen within 2 weeks
- Good for filling in bare patches from dog potty spots
- Takes a lot of soil prep
- Leaves green stains on exposed clothing and skin
- Must follow extensive instructions precisely to see any results
- More expensive than other options
$11.49 per 350 sq. ft.
- Less expensive than other brands
- Easy to apply
- Grass grows quickly
- Handle prone to clumping
- Seed may spray out in one clump
- Does not apply in foam mixture
- Many people reported zero new grass
Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass
$13.35 per 600 sq. ft. with 3 applications (1800 sq. ft. total)
- Hooks up easily and sprays evenly
- Not messy
- Treated grass grows vibrant green
- Lots of product for an inexpensive price
- Grass seed not mixed in
- Takes several applications over a few weeks for results
- Uses a lot of water
$8.99 per 1,000 sq. ft.
- Choose your own grass seed or seed mixture
- Choose any additives, like fertilizer, you want
- Can be cleaned and reused for other lawn applications
- Does not include grass seed or fertilizer
- Difficult to hold
Benefits of hydroseeding
Hydroseeding is usually used for areas with exposed, steep slopes or large areas of soil with little to no vegetation. For the right application, hydroseeding can be very beneficial to the successful growth of a lawn, as well as a useful tool in soil management. Some of the most important benefits of spray on grass seed include the following:
- It protects soil against surface erosion from sudden heavy rains.
- The mulch in the hydroseed promotes natural retention of soil moisture.
- Depending on the size of the application, hydroseeding can be more cost-effective than other methods.
- It produces highly uniform grass growth.
The steps in hydroseeding aren’t any different from planting grass seed the traditional way, except for the spraying. Whether you are hydroseeding, using traditional seeding, or laying sod, you want the seed or grass to go on welcoming soil, so you have to prepare the ground.
- Till the ground and remove rock and debris.
- Amend the soil with organic matter to help hold moisture and add nutrients.
- Smooth the soil to grade with a rake and lightly firm the soil.
- Apply the seeds. With hydroseeding, the slurry ingredients are mixed in the hydroseeding machine, with the grass seeds added last, just before the mixture is sprayed on the ground. The hydroseeding machine pumps the liquid through a hose to a spray nozzle.
Granted, the highway crew isn’t raking through the median to pull out rocks before hydroseeding, so it is possible to skimp on these steps and still get grass. However, if it’s your lawn, prepping the ground properly before hydroseeding is important to getting the thick grass you want.
Once the seeds are on the ground, you need to follow the same sort of watering regimen you’d follow for traditional methods of seeding grass. You may need to water the area two or three times a day, but water lightly and don’t let puddles form. The goal is to keep the area consistently moist to promote seed germination.
Spray on grass seed has been an effective method for growing commercial lawns or reseeding large areas since the 1970s. Many government agencies, like the US Forest Service, have used hydroseeding to reseed large areas of national lands that have been damaged by mudslides, wildfires, and other disasters. Hydroseeding can be particularly effective for these areas because of the unique application process.
A large burnt-out hillside close to important bridges or residential areas can have grass seed reintroduced using hydroseed applied from a helicopter. This method is much easier than planting grass seed on the ground using tractors or other heavy equipment. However, using helicopters to apply the hydroseed is expensive, so most of these applications are only done near cities, towns, or highways that could be damaged by mudslides, floods, or winds.
Commercial buildings or industrial parks, on the other hand, may use hydroseeding as an alternative to expensive sod. While spray on lawn seed doesn’t provide an instant result like sod, it usually germinates faster than regular dry grass seed.
Many homeowners with large lawns choose to spray grass seed on their properties. Hydroseeding is not usually recommended for areas under 0.5 acres due to the cost of setting up the hydroseeding machine. The initial cost of hiring and setting up the hydroseeding equipment is fairly expensive, so small lawns may not see any cost benefit over other seeding methods. However, once the machine is set up, there is little extra investment needed for a larger area, making hydroseeding more cost-effective for large areas.
In the past, one of the main drawbacks to spray on grass seed for residential lawns was the cost to hire a professional. Hydroseeding was once only able to be completed by a professional service with large hydroseeding trucks containing the grass seed slurry. The professional team then used a high-powered motor and hose to spray the mixture across your soil.
Hiring a professional is still the most common practice for hydroseeding. However, several products have been introduced that allow you to apply a small amount of spray on grass seed to your lawn. These may be a good choice for homeowners looking to fill in patchy spots on their lawns.
Popular spray-on grass seed products
Several companies make a liquid grass seed spray for residential lawns. These hydroseeding sprays are usually marketed to fill in patches of dried or dead grass or remedy areas that get too much shade for normal grass growth. We’ve taken a look at some of the pros and cons of popular spray on grass seeds.
Should I use hydroseeding, grass seed, or sod for my lawn?
Every lawn requires individual attention to know which seeding method will work best. Before you choose between hydroseeding, regular dry seeding, or installing sod, it is a good idea to perform a soil test. Soil tests will help you understand what nutrients are naturally in your soil. You can use this information to determine what type of fertilizer and grass seed are best for your lawn.
Once you know more about the base of your lawn—the soil—you can decide if hydroseeding, grass seeding, or sodding is right for your lawn. We’ve put together an easy chart that helps break down the advantages and disadvantages of the different seeding methods.
When to choose each method
Even with their various advantages and disadvantages, each seeding method helps protect the soil from erosion. In fact, having a beautiful and healthy lawn not only looks great, but it can also be helpful to the environment, as well. If you’re unsure which method you should use, consider these scenarios:
- Hydroseeding—Professional spray on grass seed is great for growing a lawn quickly, but you may not be able to enjoy it completely for a few months. You might choose hydroseeding if you’re looking to fill in large patches of bare dirt. For smaller patches, you may have success using store-bought spray on lawn seed.
- Grass seed—The most economical choice, dry seeding grass or overseeding an existing lawn are inexpensive, proven methods to develop a vibrant lawn. Choose dry seeding or an overseeding service if you’re looking to save on landscaping and have the time for your grass to grow.
- Sod—Sod gives you an instant lawn that can be used almost right away. Sod may be a great choice if you’re hosting a backyard wedding or planning to sell your house, so you want the lawn looking perfect quickly.
Costs for hydroseeding
The price for hydroseeding your yard depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Type of grass seed used
- Soil additives required
- Size of the area being seeded
Hydroseeding costs generally range from six cents a square foot to 15 cents a square foot across the US, according to the International Association of Hydroseeding Professionals. For a 10,000-square-foot lawn, that comes out to somewhere between $600 and $1,500.
DIY options for hydroseeding rentals appear limited. Big-box home and garden stores don’t seem to rent out hydroseeding equipment. The rental companies that target contractors rather than homeowners do rent the pumper equipment, but it’s pricey—it comes out to about $250 a day once you figure in fees like sales tax. A 600-gallon pumper unit for hydroseeding also weighs well over a ton before you add hundreds of gallons of slurry, so it’s really not anything the average homeowner could handle.
You can find home hydroseeding kits at home improvement stores and online. With these kits, you hook the container up to a hose and spray where you want to plant grass. For instance, a product called Hydro Mousse covers up to 500 square feet and is suggested for small areas such as bare patches your dog wears in the lawn. The bad news is that the product has received mostly negative reviews from consumers, with a 1.6-star rating (out of 5 stars) with more than 1,400 reviews at Amazon.com.
Is hydroseeding the solution for you?
If your grass isn’t the thick, green carpet you crave, you might wonder if you should try hydroseeding.
Hydroseeding is typically used when you are trying to establish a new lawn. Homebuilders use it around new homes, for instance. But if you have an established yard, there may be better solutions than starting from scratch, especially since it would entail pulling out the old grass or tilling it into the ground, prepping the soil, and waiting for a full crop of grass to mature.
Here are some common lawn problems and solutions:
- Circles of dead grass. If you have circular, yellowish patches, it could be ring spot or summer patch. You need to reduce soil compaction by aerating and make sure the lawn is properly fertilized.
- Rings or arc of mushrooms. Called fairy rings, these can be accompanied by a ring or arc of dark green grass, with or without a band of dead turf. These are often caused by thatch accumulation. Core aeration and fertilizer will help.
- Reddish brown powdery areas on the grass. This is rust, and it means the area is too shady, the ground is too dry, and the plants need more nitrogen. Prune surrounding landscape plants to increase the amount of light the grass gets. Watering and a light round of fertilizer will help, too.
Thin, patchy grass, with bare spots all over the lawn. Overseeding your lawn can result in thicker, better looking grass that’s better prepared to fight off disease and pests.
Spray on grass seed, known as hydroseeding, is a method of applying grass seed to soil using a mixture of grass seed, water, fiber mulch, and other additives such as fertilizers. See if spray-on grass seed is right for your lawn.