Three Steps To Preparing Your Yard For Hydroseeding

You're tired of your patchy, weed-filled front lawn and you're ready to do something about it. But sprinkling on a little grass seed has had spotty results in the past, and rolling on brand-new sod is a little out of your price range. 

You've heard about hydroseeding, the process of spraying on grass seed combined with a fertilizer and mulch, and you think it might be a good solution for you. But how do you know if your lawn area is a good location for hydroseeding, and what do you need to do to get the area ready? 

1. Test the soil.

One nice thing about hydroseeding is that it can allow grass seed to sprout in some challenging locations. The blend of nutrients and mulch help protect and grow the grass seed until it is well established in your yard.

But this ease in growing can have its drawbacks, too. If your soil isn't well-suited to support the lawn, your new grass will start off beautiful and lush, then begin to whither away or get patchy and sparse again. You might even think it is something you or your landscaper did wrong, but the reality is that your soil is just not ideal for a lush lawn. 

Soil testing can give you the answers and let you add nutrients and balance the pH in the soil so it becomes an ideal environment to support a thriving lawn. Or, if you find some serious problems, such as contamination with heavy metals or herbicides, you can make smart decisions about whether to wait, replace the soil or choose a different landscaping look.

It's relatively inexpensive to do soil testing. Your landscaper or your area university extension office can either perform the tests for you or point you in the right direction for getting the soil analyzed. Follow the lab's directions for taking samples at the correct locations and depths for best results.

2. Remove existing sod.

Taking off the top layer of turf will remove the existing grass and any weeds and roots that are part of the yard. A small area can be easy to prepare, using a spade or shovel to skin off the top layer, but for a larger yard you or your landscaper may wish to use a sod cutter.

Sod cutters work best under certain conditions and the process can be done more quickly with experience, so this is one area where you likely want your landscaper to take care of the work. 

Don't make the mistake of using a rototiller to chop up the soil. While this can loosen the dirt nicely, it also ends up chopping up all the weed seeds and roots and distributing them over the entire area. You'll end up with an ongoing battle with unwanted weeds.

3. Use the right amount of seed.

Bags of grass seed may contain a smaller amount of pure, live seed than you think. The bag of seed will tell you the percentage of germination and the percentage of purity; if your 10-pound bag is only 90 percent pure and will only germinate 90 percent, it will be like applying just a bit more than 8 pounds of seed. 

Make sure you're applying plenty of seed for the area, and encourage your landscaper to use more rather than try to save a buck by putting on less seed. Your results are likely to be much better than if you scrimped -- accidentally or purposefully -- on seed.

Talk to a local professional landscaper, such as, about the hydroseeding process and whether it is a good match for your yard.