Hydroseeding is a process where a blend of grass seed is pumped through a slurry with a mulch in order to help keep the seed evenly in place. Here in Billings, Montana there are a few native species of grasses that when blended together have proven to make a superior lawn.
Grass seed species for lawns in here in Billings, Montana
A typical residential or commercial lawn in Billings that has an underground sprinkler system installed will have a turf that is a hybrid of two or three different species of grass. These grasses work together to build a turf that stays greener, requires less water, and is more shade tolerant. The types of grass seed used for most lawns here in Billings and surrounding areas typically include:
- Kentucky Blue Grass
Hydroseeders will blend these species of grass in different percentages, then apply a seed volume per square footage that is proven to yield good results.
Is Hydroseed cheaper than Sod?
Most people look at the price of sod in comparison to hydroseeding and choose to hydroseed in order to save money. While this can be very true, unfortunately, it isn’t always the case. There are many situations where sod is less expensive and better than hydroseeding. However, if you have a lawn that is a half acre or larger, then hydroseeding is likely an excellent option. What people often aren’t aware of is the extra expense involved in preparation and maintenance for hydroseeded lawns.
What is required to make a hydroseeded lawn successful?
Hydroseeded lawns require regular maintenance and fertilization. In fact, most landscapers will tend a hydroseeded lawn for the first 6 months in order to improve success. Unlike with sod, a newly seeded lawn does not yet have an established root base. This means that there is literally a battle happening in your hydroseeded lawn!
The battle is weeds versus grass, and the goal is to help the grass win!
In order to do this, your grass will need frequent mowing and fertilization. Topsoil and Grading
Hydroseeded lawns need to be well graded and have a nutrient rich soil loom. This is typically the big expense when it comes to hydroseed. While the seed and application can run as low as 8 cents per square foot, the preparation can be up to $1 per square foot. In Billings, Montana it is typical need topsoil for hydroseeded lawns. Topsoil averages $65/cubic yard delivered on site. Equipment can then be used to evenly spread the topsoil.
Should I Sod or Hydroseed?
As landscapers, we usually prefer to lay sod in Billings unless you site is larger than most. Sod takes quickly and has an already establishing root base which helps keep weeds snuffed out. Still it is important to remove weeds before laying sod. In Montana, the super weeds here are highly invasive! The remaining roots will grow new weeds and seeds are often in the soil or blown in from adjacent field, unmaintained lots, and other places. Also, sod comes with its own nutrients within the root mass. This means less topsoil is needed. We can literally lay the sod directly over clay and it will establish and grow provided it gets water and occasional fertilizer.
If your lawn is large, then hydroseed is probably the best solution. In fact, it is even a viable option with smaller lawns. It really depends upon the site and the time of year. It is best to hydroseed in May or June in Montana. There a many reasons for this, one being weed management and the other being ground moisture and workability. The main reason we say the hydroseed is a better option on larger lots is because grading equipment is designed to handle large areas efficiently. Once you get the equipment there, you can get ahead of the curve quickly by working a larger area efficiently. It is true that you will likely need to pay more for topsoil, but there are some locations that don’t require as much and still others where you can get away with doing less or using a less expensive soil. In fact there are sites in Lockwood that don’t need topsoil which makes hydroseeding a no brainer.
How to prepare a site for hydroseed?
There are several ideal ways to grade large lots. Our favorite is a Harley rake. The Harley rake is designed to turn up the soil and evenly spread it to leave a loose soil loom behind. It is typically a 4-5 step process.
- Grade with a bucket as required
- Run the Harley rake to loosen soil
- Angle the rake to skim rocks and debris
- Use rock rake to remove collected debris
- Repeat the process with the Harley rake
- Change directions and rake again.
Note: This is just the process for grading, however, there are techniques for eliminating weeds that should happen intermittently.
Depending upon the site, other grading equipment can be more effective. There are many factors to consider before deciding upon which equipment to utilize. Cultivators, rockhounds, and rollers are often the best solution to grading a site. Whatever the technique might be, timing is an important factor to consider in Montana when it comes to preparing and hydroseeding your lawn.