Best Spray-on Grass Seed for Your Lawn (Hydroseeding) and Buyers Guide

Every homeowner’s dream is to achieve a green, lush lawn, but scattering grass seed that needs planting across large lawn real estate can be time-consuming, and a daunting task to say the least!

But what if I told you that you could simply spray a magical potion to get your lawn off to a healthy start!

Also referred to as hydro-mulching, hydraulic mulch seeding, hydroseeding or most commonly hydroseeding, spray on grass seed is an efficient, high quality, and affordable method of seeding a lawn. 

Hydroseeding

What is Hydroseeding (Spray on Grass Seed)?

The brilliant idea of hydroseeding originated in the United States in the early 1940s when a member of the Connecticut Highway Department — Maurice Mandell realized that certain inaccessible areas could be seeded with grass by applying a mixture of grass seed and water instead of dry grass seeds. 

The first commercial hydroseeder was sold by Charlie Finn, but this model still in its infancy was a machine equipped with a 1000-gallon mixing tank, and an attached engine, pump, and spray unit that sprayed just seed and water.

But the good ol’ hydroseeder has come a long way since its inception, and even though the premise remains the same, today it’s sprayed as a slurry that contains seed, mulch, fertilizer, soil amendments, and water to ensure seeds grow properly rather than just seed and water. 

What’s in a Hydroseeding Slurry? 

Water – a large portion of the mix is water, whose job is to transport the seeds and hydrate them. 

Phosphorous – helps accelerate plant growth. 

Mulch – could be made up of several different things including wood and paper, and provides the seeds with protection, and keeps them moist. 

Tackifiers – very helpful in rainy areas, as it helps the slurry stick to the slopes without washing away. 

Seeds – the type of grass seeds can vary but is mostly a variety of different grass types that perform well in the respective local environmental conditions. 

Some of the popular hydroseeding lawn mixtures include:

  • 80% Perennial Ryegrass, 20% Fine Fescue – this is the best choice for most lawns, great for overseeding, and excellent for sun areas. 
  • 60% Perennial Ryegrass, 40% Fine Fescue – contains a higher amount of fescue for shade tolerance, and performs better with little maintenance compared to other lawn mixes. On the downside, this mixture may not be as weather tolerant as those with higher amounts of perennial ryegrass. 
  • 70% Perennial Ryegrass, 30% Kentucky Bluegrass – used primarily on parks and sports fields, and a great choice for full sun, high traffic areas. 

Popular Spray on Grass Seed Products 

1. Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn System

Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn System

The Hydro Mousse liquid lawn care system is a great solution for people facing lawn issues such as dry spots, dog spots, and high traffic areas. This kit can cover up to 500 square feet for overseeding or 165 square feet for new lawns, and can be attached to any garden hose. 

It is a Perennial Rye, Kentucky Blue, Tall Fescue & Fine Fescue seed blend that is suitable for all climates. Seeds in the Hydro Mousse hydroseeding blend take roughly a week to two weeks to germinate, and up to a month for full growth coverage.  

When sprayed properly, the Hydro Mousse slurry is distributed evenly and accurately, similar to the services provided by professional hydroseeding services. 

Pros: 

  • Perennial Rye, Kentucky Blue, Tall Fescue & Fine Fescue blend 
  • Attaches to any garden hose 
  • Suitable for all climates 
  • Covers up to 500 sq. ft. for overseeding or 165 sq. ft, for new lawns
  • Clearly indicates areas you’ve sprayed the slurry 

Cons: 

  • Stains clothes 
Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn System - Grow Grass Where You Spray It -...
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Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn System - Grow Grass Where You Spray It -...
  • Hydro Mousse is easy to apply and provides the perfect solution for homeowners with patchy lawns that need repair. Fix dry spots, dog spots, high traffic areas and shade
  • Attaches to any garden hose and eliminates guesswork by clearly showing you where you are planting
  • Each kit will reseed a 100 foot square area, or 200 spots and contains: the spray head, the coating chamber (canister), the grass seed blend that is suitable for all climates, the Hydro Mousse liquid formula

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2. Grass Shot by Bulbhead

Grass Shot by Bulbhead

Grass Shot bills itself as the ultimate hydroseed system and does indeed come close to the real deal. This spray-on grass seed solution is an ideal choice for high-traffic areas, pet burn spots, and much more. 

It covers up to 350 square feet, and contains lawn seed, fertilizer, and patented hydro mulch. Grass shot can be attached to any garden hose and covers up to 350 square feet. This spray-on grass seed contains mainly Fescue and Ryegrass and can help you get a lush lawn in no time. 

Pros: 

  • Covers up to 350 square feet 
  • Great choice for high traffic areas 
  • Contains mainly Fescue and Ryegrass 

Cons: 

  • May not work as intended in certain areas/regions
Grass Shot by Bulbhead - The Ultimate Home Hydro Seeding System,...
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Grass Shot by Bulbhead - The Ultimate Home Hydro Seeding System,...
  • Includes: grass shot sprayer, 1 packet of spray grass seed blend, 1 green liquid formula
  • The ultimate home hydro seed system as seen on tv
  • Use the grass shot soak & seed spray system to spray green grass color while you seed your lawn

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3. Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food is formulated to feed and water your grass at the same time. It not only accelerates seed growth but also works well for sod and grass plugs. 

Turf Builder Starter Food by Scotts is safe to use for all grass types and grows grass much thicker compared to unfed lawns. 

It is fast and easy to apply by connecting the product with any outdoor garden hose, and applying three times — first when new grass begins to sprout, next a week after the first feeding, and third a week after the second feeding. 

Pros: 

  • Can be used on any grass type, and sods and plugs too 
  • Grows grass faster and is easy to apply 
  • Feeds and water at the same time 

Cons: 

  • Limited to one size 
Deal
Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Ready-Spray, 32...
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Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Ready-Spray, 32...
  • Feeds and waters at the same time
  • Grows New grass thicker and quicker versus unfed lawn
  • Improves seeding results

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4. Gavin HYDROSEEDER

Gavin HYDROSEEDER

Gavin HYDROSEEDER is designed to seed, fertilize and water up to an impressive 1000 square feet. This DIY product eliminates seed loss due to drifting and can be applied in minutes. 

Pros: 

  • Covers up to 1000 square feet 
  • Easy and quick application 
  • Prevents seed drifting

Cons: 

  • Difficult to hold 
  • Does not contain grass seed or fertilizer 
GAVIN 3 IN 1 Holds UP to 3# Soluble Fertilizer. CONVERTS to Hydro...
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GAVIN 3 IN 1 Holds UP to 3# Soluble Fertilizer. CONVERTS to Hydro...
  • LARGE CAPACITY SOLUBLE FERTILIZER GARDEN FEEDER ALSO SEED W/FERTILIZER SPREADER WITH AUTOMATIC EMPTYING FEATURE
  • ALSO GRASS SEED W/FERTILIZER SPREADER
  • AUTOMATIC EMPTYING FEATURE (TIRED OF GETTING WET EVERY TIME YOU EMPTY YOUR SOLUBLE SPRAYER?

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5. Grotrax Biodegradable Grass Seed Mat

Grotrax Biodegradable Grass Seed Mat

Unlike other products on this list, the Grotrax mat is not a spray but is a biodegradable mat embedded with grass seed that you simply unfurl on your lawn. It is available in two different styles — Bermuda Rye and Year Round Green, and in two sizes — 50 feet and 100 feet. 

This all-in-one hydroseeding solution features strategically placed seeds sourced from reputable Oregon growers. Further, the Grotrax mat included seed, fertilizer and mulch set securely in a biodegradable fabric. 

Pros: 

  • Available in two sizes and two styles 
  • Mat includes seed, fertilizer and mulch 
  • Biodegradable mat 

Cons: 

  • Material is delicate and tears easily
Grotrax Biodegradable Grass Seed Mat - 50 SQFT Year Round Green -...
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Grotrax Biodegradable Grass Seed Mat - 50 SQFT Year Round Green -...
  • ALL IN ONE GROWING SOLUTION: Grotrax ‘All-in-One’ Grass Seed fabric contains Seed, Fertilizer and Mulch in one easy to use ‘roll out’ growing system. "Every Seed Perfectly Placed" over 100% of its recommended planting rate. Each Grotrax Year-Round Green Grass Seed roll contains the latest in grass growing technology, inclusive of high-quality seed from leading Oregon growers.
  • SIMPLY ROLL, WATER, AND WATCH IT GROW: Every Grotrax roll includes seed, fertilizer, and mulch to create an All-in-One grass growing solution. Our Year Round Green Quick Fix Roll growing system stays green, even in light-shade or scorching sun.
  • BIODEGRADABLE GRASS SEED MAT: Once rolled out and watered, our specialized grass roll sticks to the ground. Each seed is then surrounded by fertilizer and held in place between two bio fabric layers, Grotrax Micro Pellet Fertilizer produces fast germination and uniform growth. Biodegradable Fabric prevents seeds from washing away making it cheaper, easier to apply, and lighter than expensive traditional sod.

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How Does Hydroseeding Work? 

Hydroseeding has received a surge of appeal, most notably because once you spray it on, you just have to sit back and watch your beautiful lawn take shape. One of the biggest reasons hydroseeding works so well is because the seeds are suspended in a nutrient-rich slurry. 

And what’s even better is that the germination cycle begins the moment the seeds come in contact with the water in the machine. The layer of mulch seals in the moisture and holds the soil in place when the slurry hits the prepared soil surface. 

The key to the success of your hydroseeding application is a combination of four essentials:

  • Good seed to soil contact 
  • Fertilizer 
  • Moisture retention
  • Seed protection 

The Hydroseeding Process

Hydroseeding is fast, easy to do, and all it takes is a one-step, single application. However, the soil must be tested first to determine what additives, if any are needed to condition it for optimal seed germination and growth. 

Further, it is highly important that the soil be “prepared”, which entails loosening highly compacted soil to allow the roots of the grass to grow deep. After you’ve received the soil tests results, you will be able to determine the right blend of grass mixture for your lawn. 

You will also be in a better position to decide on the right fertilizer, tackifiers, additives such as iron sulfate, aluminum sulfate, lime, nitrogen, or other soil conditioners, and mulch to accelerate your planting efforts for healthy and sustained growth. 

The steps in hydroseeding aren’t any different from planting grass seed the traditional way, except for the spraying. Whether you are hydroseeding, using traditional seeding, or laying sod, you want the seed or grass to go on welcoming soil, so you have to prepare the ground.

  • Till the ground and remove rock and debris.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter to help hold moisture and add nutrients.
  • Smooth the soil to grade with a rake and lightly firm the soil.
  • Apply the seeds. With hydroseeding, the slurry ingredients are mixed in the hydroseeding machine, with the grass seeds added last, just before the mixture is sprayed on the ground. The hydroseeding machine pumps the liquid through a hose to a spray nozzle.

Granted, the highway crew isn’t raking through the median to pull out rocks before hydroseeding, so it is possible to skimp on these steps and still get grass. However, if it’s your lawn, prepping the ground properly before hydroseeding is important to getting the thick grass you want.

Spray on Grass Seed Advantages 

Spray on grass seed offers a plethora of benefits for lawn owners, but may not be the right choice for everyone. Some of the noteworthy benefits of hydroseeding include: 

Even and uniform grass – since the slurry you spray contains seeds, water, mulch, and one or more additives, hydroseeding delivers lush, even grass, and not patches of grass. 

Plus, you can choose from several different seed blends you’d like to use, so if you have tough soil, shade, or other similar conditions, you can choose the best hydroseed grass blend for your landscape. 

Better disease resistance – hydroseeding is less susceptible to disease because the slurry contains two or more different varieties of grass seed. 

Cost-efficient – compared to other grass planting methods, spray on grass seed is much more cost-effective. Hydroseeding is also much quicker than manually spraying seeds, making it a great option for large size lawns. 

Even distribution – even though broadcast spreaders do a decent job of spreading grass seed, it may be a bit challenging when trying to determine which areas were covered, and the ones missed during the supplication. 

With hydroseeding, you get 100 percent coverage, owing to the die included in the slurry, so you avoid the uneven, clumpy effect that comes with broadcast seeding. 

Quality – a hydroseeded lawn is much healthier and long-lasting than a grass-seeded turf. Seeds from hydroseeding applications also hold moisture better than hand seeding techniques, therefore are able to develop deeper roots. 

Hydroseeding is usually used for areas with exposed, steep slopes or large areas of soil with little to no vegetation. For the right application, hydroseeding can be very beneficial to the successful growth of a lawn, as well as a useful tool in soil management. Some of the most important benefits of spray-on grass seed include the following:

  • It protects soil against surface erosion from sudden heavy rains.
  • The mulch in the hydroseed promotes natural retention of soil moisture.
  • Depending on the size of the application, hydroseeding can be more cost-effective than other methods.
  • It produces highly uniform grass growth.

Spray on Grass Seed Disadvantages 

Spray on grass seed is an easy, effective and quick way to seed your lawn, but does have a few limitations. 

Requires lots of water – whether planting seeds from scratch or hydroseeding, any lawn will require a lot of water to establish itself and thrive. Spray on grass seed, however, requires water both during and after the slurry is sprayed. 

May not be a DIY project – for most homeowners, operating a hydroseeding sprayer can be a challenge, so professional help is needed. However, there are a few DIY spray-on grass seed products available including rolls that can be unfurled on your lawn. 

Need for precision – hydroseeding is not as easy as simply sprinkling slurry across your lawn, but does require preparation of the turf similar to traditional grass seed. 

Apart from soil preparation being on point, a hydroseeding application must be done at the right time, and with the right equipment. 

Hydroseeding vs. Grass Seed vs. Sod – Which One is Right for Your Lawn? 

The cost of hydroseeding is typically lower than the cost of laying down sod, and dry seeding, because you save on labor and material costs. Spray on grass seed also grows on your soil compared to sod that grows on transplanted soil.

Spray on grass seed offers faster germination than regular seeding, but usually requires professional help. 

Dry seeding is the least expensive method and easiest of all three, but on the downside has the slowest growth time, and seeds may be lost to birds, wind, or water, leaving you with ugly patches of soil in the middle of your yard. 

Grass seed is a much more economical choice compared to hydroseeding but is a slow process that requires a fair bit of effort. Hydroseeding is best done by professionals and is great to fill both small and large patches of bare dirt. 

Sod is the most expensive to buy compared to spray on grass seed and dry seeding, but can be installed by yourself, and at any time of year. Sod however does require frequent watering and lawn care and is also susceptible to disease issues. 

See my full sod vs. hydroseed guide here.

Commercial and Residential Applications 

Hydroseeding has been an effective and preferred method of growing commercial lawns for the last few decades and is used by several government agencies including the US Forest Service. 

This grass planting method is also used for reseeding large areas that have been damaged by natural disasters such as wildfires, mudslides, etc. 

With regards to residential application, spray on grass seed is not recommended for areas smaller than 0.5 acres, owing to the costs of setting up the equipment. But on a brighter note, there is little or no other investment needed to hydroseed a large area once the machine is set up. 

Even though hydroseeding for residential lawns is done by professional lawn care services that drive in large specialized hydroseeding trucks loaded with slurry, there are several new products available that allow you to spray grass seed yourself in smaller areas. 

Should I use hydroseeding, grass seed, or sod for my lawn?

Every lawn requires individual attention to know which seeding method will work best. Before you choose between hydroseeding, regular dry seeding, or installing sod, it is a good idea to perform a soil test. Soil tests will help you understand what nutrients are naturally in your soil. You can use this information to determine what type of fertilizer and grass seed are best for your lawn.

Once you know more about the base of your lawn—the soil—you can decide if hydroseeding, grass seeding, or sodding is right for your lawn. We’ve put together an easy chart that helps break down the advantages and disadvantages of the different seeding methods.

Seeding methodAdvantagesDisadvantages
Spray on grass seedFaster germination than regular seeding Grows on your soil, unlike sod which grows on transplanted soil Better overall moisture retention Costs less than sodRequires a lot of water Must stay off grass for at least 2–3 months while roots establish Does not improve underlying soil. Not cost-effective for small lawns Usually requires a contractor
Dry seedingLeast expensive method Easy to install Tilled soil can be treated several layers deepSeed may be lost to wind, birds, or water Slowest growth time Must stay off grass for several months
SodCan be installed by yourself or using a contractor Plant at anytime No wait time for growth Lawn can be enjoyed right awayMost expensive method Needs lots of water Sod may not take to your soil Grass is grown on different soil and may not appear as vibrant as seed grown in your soil

When to choose each method?

Even with their various advantages and disadvantages, each seeding method helps protect the soil from erosion. In fact, having a beautiful and healthy lawn not only looks great, but it can also be helpful to the environment, as well. If you’re unsure which method you should use, consider these scenarios:

  • Hydroseeding—Professional spray on grass seed is great for growing a lawn quickly, but you may not be able to enjoy it completely for a few months. You might choose hydroseeding if you’re looking to fill in large patches of bare dirt. For smaller patches, you may have success using store-bought spray on lawn seed.
  • Grass seed—The most economical choice, dry seeding grass or overseeding an existing lawn are inexpensive, proven methods to develop a vibrant lawn. Choose dry seeding or an overseeding service if you’re looking to save on landscaping and have the time for your grass to grow.
  • Sod—Sod gives you an instant lawn that can be used almost right away. Sod may be a great choice if you’re hosting a backyard wedding or planning to sell your house, so you want the lawn looking perfect quickly.

Cost of Hydroseeding 

The cost of a spray-on grass seed application depends on several factors including:

  • The type of grass seed mix 
  • Soil needs including additives and preparation 
  • Size of the area 

In terms of numbers, you can expect to pay anywhere between six cents a square foot to 15 cents a square foot for hydroseeding in the US. So, if you have a massive 10,000 square foot lawn, your hydroseeding bill will be between $600 to $1500. 

Renting hydroseeding equipment isn’t cheap for homeowners, and can cost roughly $250 per day. Add to this the cost of the slurry, and the effort needed to handle the heavy hydroseeding equipment. 

You can find spray-on grass seed for home use at your local home improvement store or online. These are easy to use by attaching them to your garden hose to spray the slurry. 

Final Thoughts

Hydroseeding is a great choice if you’re looking to establish a new lawn, but is not a good option for filling up patches in your lawn. You can either hydroseed your lawn yourself or call in a professional lawn care service, which is perhaps your best bet as it is more cost-effective, and will ensure the job is done right the first time.