HydroSeeding Mulch – Types of mulch and their application
100% Paper Mulch. This is made from chopped up newspaper with a blue/green dye. It comes in bales wrapped in plastic in 30, 40 & 50 pound sizes. It performs very well and is the best choice for jet agitated hydroseeders. The heavier the bale the more it is compacted. Lighter bales are easier to add to a jet unit than heavier bales because they are more loosely packed. Paper mulch combines high performance with a low price and is a great choice.
Pourable Mulch. These may be a combination of paper and corn or paper and wood. They are ideal for smaller jet machines that have smaller openings. These mulches are basically flakes or pellets that can be poured right into the machine in seconds with no spillage. Pourable mulches are made by two companies. Profile Products which sells their mulch under the name “Cover Grow” and “Seed Aide” and by Phoenix Paper who sells their mulch under the name EZ Mulch AF.
Wood Mulches. These mulches are made from wood byproducts and one of the advantages is that wood mulches retain more water than paper mulch. However they also take longer to absorb water so loads must mix for a longer time. 100% wood mulches are not recommended for use in any jet machine. Wood mulches tend to float more and when the tank gets low the water can leach out of the mulch leaving a thick layer of mulch at the bottom of the tank. There are also mulches that are part paper and part wood. Blended mulches that are 50-50 can be used in jet units 300 gallons and larger and some 70-30 mulches can be used in those jet units. However with any hydroseeder when using a wood mulch it is important to flush out the unit when you are done spraying. Wood mulch will absorb water for some time and swell as it does that so if it sits too long clogs are likely in any machine.
High Performance Mulch. For severe erosion control jobs there are many high performance mulches available. These often have names like BFM’s (Bonded Fiber Matrix) or FGM’s (Flexible Growth Media). Most are basically wood mulch with additives that make them stick even better. They are expensive (3 to 4 times the price of paper mulch) and must be applied heavily (often at 3000 to 4000 pounds per acre) One of the most popular high performance mulch at this time is Flexterra but there are many choices of products that work well.
Other Mulches. There are a few other products used in hydroseeding mulch such as straw and cotton
SEEDS USED IN HYDROSEEDING APPLICATIONS
Most any seed can be used in a hydroseeder. This includes any grass seed, wildflowers, erosion control seeds such as crown vetch and birdsfoot treefoil. There are some grasses for which there is no commercially available seed such as St Augustine. Among grass seeds commonly hydroseeded are blue grass, fescue, rye grasses, Bermuda, Bahia, centipede, native grasses, wild flowers and more. Hydroseeding does not require special seeds.
FERTILIZER FOR HYDROSEEDING
With most hydroseeders you can use any fertilizer you wish. That includes granular, water soluble and liquid. We do not recommend Agricultural Fertilizer. When hydroseeding we prefer a high phosphorus starter fertilizer but many like a balanced fertilizer such as a 19-19-19. Keep in mind the higher the numbers the less filler is in the fertilizer. Nitrogen is very corrosive. With a hydroseeder with a metal tank some operators prefer to spread the fertilizer as a second step and apply it with a fertilizer spreader. This is usually not a concern when using a hydroseeder with a poly tank.
HYDROSEEDING TACK (TACKIFIER)
Hydroseeding tackifers accomplish two things. They will work like a glue to hold the mulch and seed in place in the case of rains, even heavy rains. They also lubricate the system and make it slippery. This allows operators to use more mulch in each load and helps minimize any chance of clogs in a hydroseeder. Among the products that tackifier is made from are polyacrylamide which is usually applied at 3 pounds to the acre and is easy to store and inexpensive and Guar which is made from the gum of the Guar tree. Guar is usually applied at about 30 pounds to the acre.