Sod Quality Results
Hydromulching: Heavy Wood Mulch Application
HydroMulching and Hydroseeding Defined
The basics of "Hydro-Seeding" and "Hydro-Mulching" (an overview).
1. The Process
Hydromulching, sometimes referred to as hydroseeding, is a grass planting process. The process is fast, efficient, and economical. This grass planting process is usually more effective than conventional seeding and certainly more economical than conventional sodding.
The process begins by mixing mulch, seed, fertilizer, and water in the tank of a hydro-mulching machine. The mixed material is then pumped from the tank and sprayed onto the ground. The material is often referred to as a slurry, much like a soupy batch of green papier-mâché. Once applied to the soil, the material enhances initial growth by providing a micro-environment beneficial to seed germination.
If the area being planted is smooth and manicured, the resulting grass surface will be smooth and manicured. Golf greens are frequently planted with hydro-mulching resulting in a smooth surface.
Hydro-mulching material is weed free. However, weed seed is almost always present in the soil, and when the soil gets the moisture and fertilizer from the planting process, weeds usually appear.
Mulch products are usually produced from wood or re-cycled paper. The wood raw material is processed into fibrous material, and usually packaged in 50 pound bags. A very specific fiber texture is particularly important in achieving an erosion resistant product which can also be easily pumped with a hydro-mulching machine. The mulch fiber is dyed green for aesthetics, but the color is also important so that the thickness of application can be monitored.
Mulch applied to the soil reduces moisture evaporation from the soil. Grass seed needs soil moisture to germinate and grow. Moisture must initially come from either irrigation or rainfall. Once the soil has moisture, mulch helps the seed get the most benefit from that moisture. Poor growth is almost always due to the seed and or the seedlings not getting enough moisture during certain critical times. Soil moisture is always important.
A good mulch application also provides erosion resistance. Soil erosion caused by flowing water is always a factor. Mulch helps hold soil in place and reduces the possibility that the seeds will be washed away, providing a better chance for establishing a more uniform coverage of grass. Further, when soil erosion is reduced, soil pollution of streams and other bodies of water bodies is reduced.
The mulch, with its fibrous network in the soil, can have significant benefits in reducing or preventing soil erosion. But the strength of the mulch can be enhanced by using a tackifier. A tackifier is a glue for tying the mulch and soil together.
Hydro-Mulching Has a Variety of Uses
New home lawns may be the largest single defined market for hydro-mulching. Other landscape applications are also significant. Hydro-mulching is being used more and more in new golf course construction. Each of these applications is usually irrigated, and the turf resulting from the application is usually classified as "fine turf". Sod Quality Results can be achieved almost every time when appropriate amounts of quality wood mulch and tackifiers are used.
New highway construction always needs new grass planted. Grass is frequently needed on mine sites, and reclamation of mine sites has increased with the recent concerns for the environment. Utility construction areas frequently need grass after pipe lines or power lines have been constructed. The list of places for planting grass in these "non turf quality" areas seems to be endless. Hydro-seeding, utilizing less mulch, is frequently used on these large areas to be more economical. Hydro-seeding can work well on these "non-irrigated" areas, if the conditions are not too hot and dry.
Warm and moist conditions promote faster seed germination. Seed bed conditions determine growth rates after germination. When all the conditions are favorable, grass may require mowing and have excellent coverage in three to four weeks. It may be possible, under the most ideal conditions, to produce a turf suitable for a football field which can be ready for play in 90 days. During less favorable circumstances, a good stand of grass can take many months, or even up to a year, to become established.
Hot conditions demand more mulch. In the desert southwest, 65 to 80 pounds of wood mulch per 1,000 square feet provides the best protection during the very hot and dry conditions of summer. However, about 45 pounds per 1,000 square feet does very well in the spring and fall.
In cooler and wetter conditions, such as in the Pacific Northwest, 35 pounds per 1,000 square feet will usually provide excellent results. However, as much as 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet will likely be best during July and August in the Seattle area.
In Anchorage, Alaska, it has become apparent, that too much mulch tends to reduce the quickness of germination. This is likely due to the fact that the seed needs warmth, and the sun may not be adequate to heat the soil insulated by the mulch.
The Mix in the Tank / The Application on the Ground
Calculating materials for a tank load begins by determining how much mulch can be used in a single tank load. Many operators use from 30 to 35 pounds of wood mulch per 100 gallons of water. This creates a slurry which is not too thick to pump, and it is not too soupy to apply to hard soils and/or wet soils.
Once it has been determined how much mulch is in a tank load, then the coverage of that tank load can be determined.
Seeding, Sodding, Hydro-Seeding or Premium Hydro-Mulching ?
The Demand for Hydro-Seeding & Hydro-Mulching is Booming
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