Hydroseeding is an excellent way to revegetate large areas of soil. Typically, this is done on a large scale by operators using expensive machinery. It is possible for us to make a smaller unit that we can use at home. Let us look at what hydroseeding is, and then how you can MacGuyver a little unit together to allow you to use this system in your garden or small plot. You will see how to make a hydroseeder the simple way!
A Note On MacGuyvering Things Together
I grew up watching the TV show MacGuyver. This guy always used to be able to cobble a plan together with a few pieces of wire and some things that were available so that he could make an escape. The show inspired us to see that you don’t always have to have something that is ready-made – you can use human creativity to make a plan. In my area, there are frequently times when you just cannot buy something off the shelf, so you MacGuyver something together. If you create such a solution, it is called a MacGapheter – some little thing that you MacGuyvered together. I will show you how to make a hydroseeder the MacGuyver way with simple stuff that lurks in the garage.
What Is Hydroseeding?
Hydroseeding refers to the process of creating a slurry of seeds together with various agents which help to ensure the even distribution of the seeds and the successful germination of the seeds upon their landing on the soil. Typical mixes include the seeds, some sort of nutrients, pH control agents such as lime, sometimes an organic mulch agent, and agents to hold moisture and make the mixture sticky (tackifiers). This is often used to slow erosion and achieve rapid cover of ground surfaces that have been disturbed.
Read more about: When To Plant Pampas Grass Either From Seeds Or Seedlings
Is Hydroseeding The Same As Hydromulching?
The two are very similar except that hydro mulching does not include seeds, whereas hydroseeding does. With hydro mulching, you are basically painting the ground with a layer of sticky much so as to reduce erosion and allow seeds in the natural seed bank to germinate. With hydroseeding, you are adding seeds to the mix so that you get faster and more reliable germination and cover. There are times when hydro mulching is desirable so as not to introduce potentially invasive species of plants.
Making A Home Hydroseeder The Sneaky Way
I had a section of my garden that I needed to vegetate in a hurry. I had never heard of hydroseeding until I started a wind farm in my town. The developers used hydroseeding to cover up pieces of land that they had cut big roads through. I was fascinated as I watched the hydroseeding company spray a mixture of mulch, lime, a silicon water retentive agent, and a tackifier (sticky thing) onto the soil. Within two weeks the grass was growing and three months later the grass stood knee-high! It was amazing. These guys had a big tank with a mixer in it and a slurry pump and a thing like a fire hose. This is all a really expensive kit!
I was determined to use hydroseeding and I set about building a hydroseeder. When figuring out how to make a hydroseeder I found an old dishwasher pump and a drum and another pump and spent a day fiddling around and the thing just clogged up. I figured that I was about to burn my workshop down out of frustration and then had this idea that I could use a little piece of plastic I had collected on the beach when fishing once that was in the bottom of my fishing bag. When I was in the fishing storage area I spotted my prawn/shrimp pump! And thus I solved a problem.
The Waainek Windfarm – after construction completed, the banks on the left were hydroseeded and recovered very well.
Read more about: How Long Can Hydroseed Go Without Water?
Using A Prawn/Shrimp Pump As A Home Hydroseeder
If you are only going to hydroseed a small area there is no logical reason to build a hydroseeding rig. It is expensive and just takes a lot of time. You need quite a strong slurry pump, and these are either cheap because they are old and unreliable, or very expensive when new. Then you need a bit of fancy plumbing and hoses and a tank and a way to move the tank around. All of this takes the cost of the project out of the realistic realm of using it for a small home project!
A prawn/shrimp pump is so cheap that you can buy one for a lot less than what it will cost you in time to make one. Or you can pick one up in a second-hand shop. Or in my case I just had one lying around because I like fishing.
When we consider how to make a hydroseeder the first step is actually your slurry. You mix up your slurry – I used 1 gallon of milled compost, a cupcake flour, and three cups of lawn grass seed. I added a cup of lime once the whole thing was mixed and then added a cup of a fertilizer very similar to this. You then slowly add warm water and mix it with a square shovel until the whole thing is a thick slurry. I used a deep bucket like this.
Once you have filled the bucket you literally use the prawn pump to just suck the slurry up and slosh it onto the surface you wish to coat. You will get the hang of it after a few tries. Remarkably easy and quick. Here is a video of some guys using prawn pumps for what they are designed for – you basically just do this with your slurry and aim a bit higher when you push the pump plunger down. And that was a big accidental discovery of how to make a hydroseeder!
How do you make a Hydroseeder at home?
I fiddled around quite a bit and discovered that a prawn/shrimp pump and a bucket ot hydroseeding slurry works quite well for small jobs. This is a very simple system and it works well for covering small lawns and cuts in banks where you want to get some grass growing quickly.
What is the mix for hydroseeding?
I used 1 gallon milled compost, a cup cake flour, and three cups of lawn grass seed. I added a cup of lime once the whole thing was mixed and then added a cup of a fertilizer very similar to this. You then slowly add warm water and mix it with a square shovel until the whole thing is a thick slurry in the bucket.
Can you Hydroseed by hand?
I have tried this after using the prawn pump method above. I just used a square container to scoop the dregs out of the bucket and threw it onto a few patches that were still dry. It worked. With a bit of patience you could probably do a larger area.
Can you Hydroseed with a garden hose?
The mixture I used would not go through a garden hose without a very strong pump. So probably the answer is no. These hoses are a bit small as well if you are pumping a thick solution through them.