TL;DR-Wood great, straw really really bad in our climate, paper ehhhhh mostly bad. Jet machines bad, mechanical machines good. We use wood and our cost is usually the same or less than paper. Our products are more expensive than paper but our machine is so much faster it saves you time and money. Hydroseed costs about 1/4 of the cost of having sod installed by a landscaper
Nitty gritty details
Please bear with us....this information is extremely important. We have been in the green industry for 18 seasons......and it took us about 10 seasons to learn the importance of the correct hydroseeding machine, materials and application methods.
There are 2 types of machines, mechanical and jet machines. This is very important and I will break both of them down and the differences.
1. Mechanical Hydroseeders-These machines have an auger inside the tank that look like a giant egg beater that break up the products and mix them evenly. They also have more powerful pumps and the pumps are made to move the thickest slurry that can be made.
Key points about Mechanical machines
1) They can run wood mulch which is hands down the best mulch on the market
2). They can run an incredibly thick slurry
3). You can add different products to them to amend the soil while you are applying the hydroseed mix
4). With the auger it makes the mix a lot more consistent
5). The production rate is usually much faster than jet machines so there is less activity on the project site
6) They are almost exclusively made of metal and built to withstand the work load of landscapers
2. Jet machines- DO NOT have an auger in them. They are made of molded plastic.
1) They mix with the force of water and there is no mechanical device to break up the mix.
2) They can only run paper products. (I will break down the different products below)
3) The slurry is about 1/2 the thickness of properly operated mechanical machines. you can not amend the soil using a jet machine.
4) They use a pump that is designed to transfer water, they are not designed to transfer thick mixes.
1) Wood mulch-This is made of recycled wood products. It is designed to break down into the soil starting almost immediately and to be completely broken down within 6-8 weeks. The mulch adds organic material to the soil. This is hands down the best type of mulch on the market. The wood absorbs water and also traps water underneath it to help maintain the correct moisture for germination. Only mechanical machines can run 100% wood
2) Paper mulch-Paper mulch is made out of recycled paper but it also contains a lot of plastic debris and other non biodegradeable products. It is supposed to be 100% paper but unfortunately it does not end up that way. It takes years to learn how to properly apply paper mulch. If it is applied to light then it will not hold any miosture and your germination rate and your seed rate will end up being very inadequate. If it is applied to heavy than it creates a paper mache effect and the grass can not grow thru it so it ends up being very sparse and it smothers the baby grass blades that are trying to grow thru it. The slurry is about half as thick as wood mulch and because of that it takes 2-3 times the water to keep it wet enough to germinate. Paper mulch also tends to move ALOT easier with overwatering or rain storms. Paper mulch is the absolute reason why people have a bad experience with hydroseeding. It does have its place and on the very rare occasion such as if your soil is incredibly dry, we will one add 1 bale of paper to our 10 bales of wood to keep the soil from rolling as bad when we spray it..
3. Straw mulch-Straw works best in mechanical machines but can be used in jet machines but it tends to de-water leaving a bunch of straw and seed in the bottom of the tank that won't come out so you end up with a lot of wasted product. However, straw ABSOLUTELY does not work in our climate. It does not hold water very well underneath it and its actually hydrophobic so when there is to much water it floats and moves with the water. If it gets even slightly dry then, the wind will blow it away. Please do not use straw....ever...on anything in the Helena Montana area. We have tested it in other climates like North Idaho and it works great!!! It's actually a really good product, just not here. Other climates that get more rain, little to no wind and less intense heat it is great for.
4. Tackifiers-These help the slurry mix with the soil and bind to the soil. There are 2 main types, Guar and Pam. Guar works absolutely amazing, its made out of guar gum like you find in food. Pam has its uses but it does not hold nearly as well as guar. Pam is not to be used around water sources because it is a chemical that can cause problems.
5. Other additives-We have several other naturally occurring additives that we use in unique situations. Without going into to much detail we have products that we can use to help turn the soil more organic, we have moisture retention products as well. We stock and have access to probably 50 plus different products that can be added to help correct different situations.
6. Fertilizer-There is a lot of debate about whether adding fertilizer to the mix is a benefit or a detriment. We will give you a few options when we meet on site about how the fertilizer can be handled.
If you would like to find out more about hydroseeding give us a call
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