Believe it or not, there are many ways to lay a new lawn.
Today we look at two common methods. The first is what’s known as hydroseeding. In this method, a combination of seed, water, fertiliser and tracking dye is sprayed on top of topsoil through a cannon or hose, resulting in an efficient way of planting new grass. While it may take longer for your lawn to grow this way, hydroseeding is a cost-effective option, particularly when covering large surface areas or slopes.
The second method, known as solid turfing, is the direct application of an already established root system in the form of sod or turf grass onto your prepared site of topsoil. Solid turf will come in a slab cut form, where it can be laid straight onto prepared soil. Laying solid turf will give you instant results (which is why it’s also known as instant turf), is low-maintenance and is perfect if you’re wanting to spruce up or repair your lawn with little wait time. The greatest benefit of instant turf is how quick it will establish, and how little water it requires during this process.
Comparing lawn solutions
Before you sit down to compare the sums between solid turfing and hydroseeding, there are a few key things to consider:
- Both lawn solutions, while different in their application, have the same end result - a great looking lawn.
- There are two very different time frames in which you are working with; One is significantly longer in establishment timeframes, while the other is virtually instantaneous.
- The variations in the process and maintenance required to establish a usable turf surface differ between the two methods. One requires regular upkeep while the other is easier to maintain in its aftercare.
- The level of agronomic knowledge you or your team have to manage and troubleshoot seeded areas to gain the desired result.
There is also the issue of cost. While hydroseeding may be cost-effective, it takes longer to see results. Whereas solid turf may have instant results, depending on turf quality and labour costs, it may end up as the more expensive solution - especially for large scale areas.
Hydroseeding - Is it worth the wait?
By using the hydroseeding turfing method, you will save money but at the expense of a lengthier waiting time. Seeding a new lawn can be an exercise in patience, with seeds generally germinating around days five to seven. The time it takes to nurture a seeded or hydroseeded lawn surface can be anywhere from 6-12 months. However, if you are wanting to revegetate or cover a vast area quickly, then hydroseeding is a better option than other direct, traditional methods of seeding. It is also a more convenient way to revegetate areas that are hard to access, such as slopes and hillsides.
Laying solid turf - is it worth the expense?
With instant turf, you significantly reduce any establishment risk - guaranteeing an instant result from your money and time invested. In the case of re-turfing a sporting facility, using solid turf to replace or repair the surface will reduce time out of play and provide a quick and easy lawn solution - reducing costs and stress in the short and long-run.
Solid turf systems also have an immediate visual impact (don’t underestimate the non-dollar value of that instant ‘’wow’’ factor!), delivering desired results for the client/ customer/community straight away.
Lawn costs and maintenance
With councils and developers placing tighter constraints on new turf areas, you need to consider installation process and establishment costs and the ongoing input costs for irrigation, fertiliser, herbicides etc. The labour-intensive hours required to then establish and maintain the area must also be considered during the tender process.
Watering and fertilization
Solid turf varieties need to be watered immediately after being rolled out, in order to avoid the grass from drying out and dying. In the weeks that follow, solid turf needs frequent watering to maintain its health and success. This can be tedious, depending on the type of solid turf you invest in.
Solid turfing with C4 warm-season grass varieties automatically eliminates many of those uncontrollable risks associated with turf establishment. For example, the water requirements of C4 warm season hard turf surfaces as compared to C3 cool-season grass can be up to 66% less, pending seasonal conditions.
The fertilizer inputs of a C4 warm-season grass installed as solid turf generally only requires one application on installation, a second application 4-6 weeks post-installation, and then, generally an application in Autumn and Spring thereafter.
This is compared with requirements of a hydro seeded site of either C3/C4 grasses, where it is essential that an application of fertilizer on installation is followed up with regular applications every 4-6 weeks, until a complete cover of thick dense grass has established, which, on average will more than double fertilizer applications and associated costs for the first 12 months with this method.
Hydroseeding also requires more ongoing maintenance, with the repairing, topdressing and reseeding of damaged areas that may have been affected by washout caused by irrigation or rainfall.
In terms of weed eradication/ herbicide application, solid turf if purchased from a reputable supplier should generally be weed free and weed-resistant - especially if the topsoil is prepared properly. If a C4 solid turf has been installed correctly and received adequate moisture and nutrients to maintain a healthy turf, then herbicide applications will for the most part not be required.
Compared with hydroseeding where the bare soil is exposed and moisture and nutrient levels are high, weed germination is inevitable. This would then require regular applications of a selective herbicide to eradicate weeds before they start to shade, compete with or crowd out lawn space. Alternatively, an application of pre-emergent herbicide before planting would need to take place, which also needs to be factored into initial cost estimates.
Key differences between hydroseeding and solid turf - summary
One of the biggest variations between the two processes is the man-hours required and the level of agronomic knowledge required to achieve a desirable, quality lawn surface.
Initially, installing solid turfing may be more labour-intensive and present a greater upfront cost, however, once installed it requires minimal hours to maintain. This is compared to hydroseeding, which requires a higher level of maintenance over a longer, initial establishment period - with still no guaranteed result for your time and cash investment.
Other damage sustained by pests and disease during this period can also affect the process. Sprigging/seeding requires constant monitoring to act on any of these situations as they arise – which is sometimes difficult to predict at the time of quoting a contract. It is usually the unforeseen unpredictables which blow the budget and time costs out, leaving people wishing they had gone the hard turf option in the first place.
Contact us for expert lawn advice
At Coolabah Turf, we’re experts in all things lawn care. Want the best lawn turf in Victoria? Contact us! We can help you with your instant turf installation, lawn maintenance & aftercare, and DIY lawn turf project.