Sodding is expensive and labor-intensive. Seeding is less expensive, but susceptible to rainfall washout and spotty growth. Another lawn installation option is hydroseeding.
Not intended as a do-it-yourself option, hydroseeding makes quick work of sowing large areas with grass seed.
Hydroseeding is less expensive because it requires a smaller crew size, but it does require some specialized equipment. In recent years, the hydroseeding industry has been growing at about 10% a year as more and more people realize the value of the hydroseeding process. The seed, fertilizer, hydromulch, tackifier and water are all applied in one fast easy step.
Hydroseeding is a process of mixing grass seed, fertilizer, and a mulch then applying that mixture under pressure with a hose. You'll notice a hydroseeded lawn by it's distinctive dark green appearance.
The mulch used in hydroseeding depends on the machine a contractor is using, climate conditions and personal preference. The basic mulches available are 100% paper comprised of chopped-up newspaper, green dye and a foaming agent. Other mulches include 100% wood by-products, and mixes of the two.
Hydroseed typically germinates faster than seeds alone, because seeding requires several days of watering to reach the same level of moisture saturation the grass needs to grow. Not all types of grass can be grown with hydroseeding, but most common varieties-including Bermuda, Buffalo, Zoysia, Fescue-can be hydroseeded.
Hydroseeding can be done in the spring, fall and early summer. Soil preparation is the same for all types of grass: remove all debris, till the soil adding necessary fertilizers for the site's condition, grade and level for smooth surface and then lightly pack and moisten the yard.
After a lawn has been hydroseeded, water it lightly for three to four weeks, keeping the surface evenly moist. In addition to preserving moisture, the hydroseeded mulch will help prevent erosion and runoff in most cases. However, heavy rain or sloped areas can cause the seed, chemicals and silt to wash onto sidewalks and into sewer systems.
Usually the grass will be ready to mow in three to four weeks. Keep traffic low for 2 - 4 months after the lawn is established, and avoid normal to high use until the lawn has had a year to take root.