Hydroseeding, as the name indicates, combines seed, mulch, fertilizer and additives in a tank, mixes it with water and sprays the slurry over an area with a turret gun. It’s a one-step seeding process landscapers can offer as an add-on service in many areas of the country. It’s also one-third the cost of sod and quicker and more reliable than dry seeding.
The application areas are innumerable – small residential lots to golf courses to highway embankments – meaning tank capacities range from 50 gallons to 4,000 gallons. Now, multiply the variety of jobs times the number of mixture types and you have options. Here are some factors to consider when shopping:
There are residential, commercial and recreational lots, and highway roadsides ranging from 10,000 square feet to 10,000 square acres.
“In general, a 3,000-gallon machine covers an acre at a time,” says Ed Dugan, owner of Northeast Bowie Sales. Smaller contractors start out with a 600-gallon or 800-gallon machine; it’s the most common landscape size.” Contractors working in mine reclamation, highway contractors, and larger excavators, need closer to a 3,000-gallon model.
“We try to fit the machine to that person’s majority of their jobs,” says Mark Middendorf, senior vice president, FINN.
Ray Badger, president of Turbo Turf, says prices can be determined largely by the machine’s agitation system: mechanical or jet. “The budget will depend on the hydroseeder’s expected usage,” he says.
Jet agitation systems are cheaper, smaller, and a usual route for first-time buyers before upgrading to mechanical because they’re best for small jobs. Mechanical agitation can handle thicker mulches for big jobs and soil erosion control projects. Larger companies pay from $10,000 to $70,000 for the more powerful unit. However, Badger says jet agitation can work for those needing a solid machine for less than $10,000.
Truck versus trailer
Knowing if you have an available truck to tow the hydroseeder should also be considered. Dugan says there are pros and cons to both truck-mounted and trailer-mounted machines. Truck-mounted units can tie up a small operation’s truck, costing them other jobs or errand-running. However, trailer-mounted units are limited in size, up to 1,100-gallon tanks. Truck mounts are available for any size tank and can fit in smaller areas.
There are other factors to consider as well. Weather, type of mulch and even your water source will narrow hydroseeder choices. Talk with your local dealer to determine what machine best fits your business.