View Full Version : building a hydroseeding machine

02-24-2003, 12:05 PM
Ive searched and found that some of you have built your own hydroseed machine. I have considered this but dont know if it would be more of an advantage to buy one for around $2500 (Turbo Turf HS-100). I dont need a big one as I am going to use it on my place(I will hydroseed about 2 acres and time is no big deal) and every once in a while for my costumers. I think I could buy a 200 gallon polly tank, a 4 hp w/ pump, 100 ft of hose w/ nozzles, and agitator, plus the extra little stuff needed for around $1000. I can build my own trailer for nothing as I have all the stuff laying around. Am I missing something on the price? It just seems to me that I can build for a lot cheaper. What is yalls opinion on this. I figured that on my new house it will probably cost me around $1000 to get someone to hydroseed my 2 acres and For just a little more I can build my own and do it myself, plus I have the machine for future use.

02-24-2003, 12:41 PM
You'll need more than 4HP to hydroseed properly. Agitation is extremely important. I'll never own another machine that doesn't have mechanical agitation.

Better see some machines that work and look them over well. A good 400 gal plus machine, without trailer is close to 10 grand, hard to beleive you could build one for a thousand. Also 200 gal will take you a long time filling all the time.

Austreim Landscaping

02-24-2003, 12:56 PM
Ive noticed that Turbo turfs small unit only uses a 3.5. I agree that a 200 gallon will be time consuming filling but I dont care about time on my own yard and I may do 2-3 a year for my costumers so I can absorb the added time. Im just thinking about this since I need it on my place and it will ezpand my business. I agree with you Doug, I have to be missing something about the price. I am going to the Tractor Supply Store today to start pricing some of the stuff. If I need a larger engine than a 4hp what size should I use. The Turbo Turf is supposed to be a good brand (from reading posts here) so I dont know why they would put this engine on if its not enough. The price would dramatically increase if I needed a larger engine(8hp or above)

02-24-2003, 02:03 PM
Engine size is really related to the pump that is chosen. Remember you are pumping a thick slurry, so you need the appropriate pump that can handle it. Also depends on what type of mulch you are going to use. Our original machine was designed for paper mulch, but the specs on most of the govt jobs that we get require all wood. We learned after buying our first machine that as we got more work, we needed more capacity. Usually if there is enough work to justify investing in a new machine, you need to invest for growth. If something catches on, usually you will develop more work as you go along.

I know I would be several thousand dollars ahead right now, if we had originally bought the machine we have now, rather than the smaller hydraulic agitation machine that we did at first. Even now, I further question whether I should have bought an even bigger machine than the one we have now.


02-25-2003, 03:33 AM
some way to save the cost of that engine would be to get something used. there are some really good ones out there on bad mowers. this would make it more cost affective and once you have some proffits rolling in you could always replace it with a new one.

02-25-2003, 12:17 PM
There are some advantages to starting out with a more modest, jet agitated machine. Then if your market proves promising for the service, be prepared to upgrade to a paddle unit quickly.

That shouldn't be a problem assuming you're generating positive revenue streams from the initial unit. That unit never becomes obsolete for a variety of reasons so essentially you would have two field ready units with seperate daily assignments.

For example, I really like upselling my residential customers to follow up watering, which is perfect for say, a three hundred gallon jet unit.

That all makes sense so what's the most important considerations? In my opinion, a decent capacity...not too big or small, and a good size pump and engine so you can at least run up to 50% wood if the job requires.

We sell a lot of 'minis' to new home owners with maybe an acre or two to do and time is usually not an issue. Don't expect economic efficiency with a mini (50 to 150 gallon) but they will get the job done.

Sean Gassman
02-26-2003, 04:38 PM
Two acers should cost you more than $1000.00 in materials. It should be closer to $4000.00. Also, if you are only doing 2-3 jobs, find a good sub-contractor. Make some money without the overhead. Make sure you have work before investing the money. No one can afford having equipment not making money. Learn about the process before you cost yourself more than a $1000.00 in upset customers.

I have never heard of building a unit for as cheap as you are saying but I have never looked into it either. If saving money is what you are after, just drill seed or broadcast your own property, since your time is not valuable, it will take you several tries. Is the two acers irrigated? If not, don't seed more than you can water. I am guessing you will plant bermuda. This can't be seeded without heavy mulch until after May 1 and will need to be kept moist every day until mowing...... 4-8 weeks! Good luck, but I would recommend more research, finding a good sub-contractor, and building your market before the equipment is purchased.... built or what ever you decide to do. If you would like to see a variety of machines the Hydro Turf Planters Association is having is 4th Annual Conference and Exhibit in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi April 24-26. Finn, Bowie, Turfmaker, Turbo Turf, Easy Lawn, Kincaid, and other machines will be there.

check out the web site www.htpa.org

02-27-2003, 09:26 PM

I too have reserached building my own jet machine for my own use and perhaps for some side job lawn installs. What you propose is very doable if you are a handy kind of guy and enjoy fabrication and can take the time to research it well.

Do a google search on "hydroseeding questions" and look for other sites that can answer your questions. You will be surprised at what is out there especially if you picked the fourth site down, hint, hint. There are other people who have done exactly what you want to do and have been very happy with the results. They are very happy to share their information and research with you. And, there are many people who are perfectly happy with the results of paper mulch as opposed to 100% wood mulch. My research indicates BOTH have positives and negatives and either may be appropriate, depending on your desired outcome.

Good Luck


David Gretzmier
03-05-2003, 08:18 PM
with 1200 lbs mulch per acre, tack, fert, good fescue seed, I am coming up at 1.4 cents per square ft on costs. x 80000 square feet, is 1120. you could actuall do cheap ky. 31 fescue, annual rye, and add some locking fibers and use blue goo and it comes out at 1.41 cents.

don't try to build your own. I did. it will not work. just find a cheap used one like I did and enjoy life. I have seen other ones out there with trailer that go for $1500-3000 used.

Dave g

Sean Gassman
03-05-2003, 10:55 PM
1200 lbs per acer is not even the industries recommended minimum which is 1500lbs. For quality work to stand up to our weather the minimum mulch should be more like 2,000 lbs per acer. I spray all of my jobs at 2500-2750 lbs per acer, wood mulch or at a bare minimum 70/30. Fescue will work only under certain conditions and KY 31 will not last in Texas at all. Bermuda is the most common grass grown. Sprayed in the Spring will take 4-8 weeks before mowing.

Also, Two acers is not 80,000 SF.... its 87,120 SF. Minimum material cost at the minimum recommend for this area (2,000 lbs per acer) for a new contractor would be in the neighborhood of $0.0178 = $1,550.00. This does not include water cost, meter cost, gas, labor, over head, warrantee, etc. only direct material cost. Curry is estimating he could get a contractor to do the job for $1,000.00 and for a little more he could build a machine. I guess I didn't make it clear that I was saying it should be about $4,000.00 to hire someone to do the job.

03-06-2003, 09:53 AM
Sean is right, even at a full ton per acre, you're not getting a very heavy coverage of mulch.

Austreim Landscaping

03-06-2003, 12:28 PM
2000 lbs/acre is adequate on level to slightly rolling terrain when timely watering is provided.

Also Consider...

1) that it's foolish to try to build your own machine unless your time is essentially worth nothing. It can be done, and it might save you $100 - $200 the price of a new one. The next question is...

2) are you fully aware of the 'choices' out there on mini and mid size jet machines? I've heard a few mfg names bantered about and it's all good.

Maybe it would help to expand your thinking a little? hehe

David Gretzmier
03-06-2003, 01:26 PM
Doug and Sean- Your right about sq. feet. I was rounding.

most websites I've looked at on the hydro machines out there- Turbo-turf,bowie, turfmaker, finn, etc- look at the mulch loads and the square footage. your recommendations are on the very high end of what thier machines will do. my recommendation was in the low or middle. Around here, I am the only hydro guy that even puts out 1200-most are at half that, and yes, at 600lbs per acre looks bad and does not work very well. I am the only home lawn hydoseeder around here. the other 5 or 6 do roadsides, detention ponds etc. I have watched them and they are stretching 300lbs of paper only over 20000 sq. feet. most of the hydro work we do are home flat lawns and we put 350 lbs of mulch, paper or 70/30 and do about 6000 sq. ft. In my bowie victor 800, any more than that it will clog. we can stretch it, but we try not to. With alot of slicky sticky and straight paper I can go 400, maybe 450 lbs per load with the full 950 gallons of capacity, and maybe stretch coverage to 10000 square ft. I have had excellent success at 1200 lbs and up in my area, probably because we are in a higher elevation, it is cooler, and we get frequent rainfall.

maybe there is a better pump that will pump thicker slurries than my bowie 2500, but the bottom line is this, in a homemade jet machine we were originally taking about, you are not going to be able to get that kind of mulch ( 2000 lbs /acre) in one pass. you'll need to go over it twice, perhaps three times on separate tankloads. a 4horse trash pump just won't pump it . an 8 horse 3" pump prbably won't. with a thin slurry in the same tank load, you essentially wash away what you just put down.

on a 200 gallon jet machine previously mentioned, I would be scared to put more than 100 lbs in it. At 2 acres, 2000 lbs per acre, that is 40 tankloads. thats gonna take awhile . 1200 lbs takes you to 24, which is still alot, but at least you are probably only doing it in one pass.

Dave g

03-06-2003, 09:47 PM
Isn't 1,500 lbs per acre of mulch the industry minimum for "wood" mulch? Curry was asking about building a jet machine for his own (home) use and it seems most of the information and data supplied was for a paddle machine and wood mulch in commercial applications. Not at all what he was asking for.

Someone stated a 400 gallon machine would be $10,000! Not for a Jet machine! A 500 gallon jet machine can go for less than half that price. New! I guess they forgot to mention the $10,000 machine was a different animal. I do agree if you could find a used 300 gallon jet machine for $1,500 you would be ahead.

Many commericial hydromulchers using paper mulch use 1,000 to 1,200 per acre and have excellent results! Do your research. Wood mulch is NOT the only way to go and there are many professionals out there using paper mulch and jet machines with perfectly adequate results. An other advantage to the jet machines is they are much MUCH cheaper, to build, opporate and replace when needed.

As to building your own machine...some commercial jet machines use as little as a 4hp engine and a 2"by2" pump and pump the appropriate slurry. Granted it's very small but if you listened to the advice posted here it is simply impossible! It is! If you are pumping wood mulch which is not what Curry asked for.

An 8hp 3"by3" pump is very adequate for paper mulch, and a much better alternative to a 4hp 2x2 machine. And you won't have to spray the paper much two and three times over the same area to get the proper coverage like some would have you believe. Shheeessssessshhh! Talk about misleading!!!!

If you are wanting to build a machine for home use and you have say for instance an 8hp motor like I have on my log splitter that only get's used a few weeks out of the year...you already have a head start. New Poly tanks are VERY reasonably priced. Used ones are very cheap but you may need to know what was stored in them. Watch the farm auctions. Many are simply used to store water for livestock. If you already have a trailer as many of us do...you are more than halfway there. Building a jet machine is not rocket science. You can build a jet machine and seed your own yard (2 acres) for a lot less than $4,000 as was the suggested price to hire a commercial seeder. And you have the various components you can use in a variety of uses. Be creative! Have a can do attitude. Do your own research. Beware of misinformation!


Sean Gassman
03-07-2003, 12:26 AM
Curry is located in my state. Paper does do well in cooler climates and can work in warmer ones but does come with some major negatives. 1500 lbs is the industry recommended minimum no matter what mulch you are spraying. This recommendation is from University studies not a machine or mulch distributer. It also does not matter which machine is used. Jet, paddle, small or large any machine can do the job. The problem is how efffiecent can you do it. How many tanks? How much mulch in each tank determines the coverage you will get. If you are spraying at 1000 lbs per acer, you will cover more SF per load compared to using the same machine spraying 2000lbs per acer, thus more loads for thicker applications.

Wood is not the only mulch, but has supior results in my state, which happens to be the place we are discussing doing the job. I have sprayed both. No one is slamming jet or paper. Wood just is better here in Texas. I started in this business spraying paper. With the reprays, lack of germination, other problems I experienced I made the switch to NO resprays and great germination. Now again I am talking about My State and My experience. I am trying to make this clear, No one in this discussion has slammed any machine or mulch. I am stating fact of what works for me in Curries state.

As for the information he was asking for was how to build a machine, and in that request made some very bad miscalculations on what the job should cost. Since I have no experience with building machines nor have I ever use a Jet agitated machine, I was only able to respond that his ideas on the price of the job is wrong and that he should find a quality contractor and sub the 2-3 jobs he gets until he can learn more about the industry and equipment. This way he could build his market without the overhead and when he was ready he could then enter into a market with more than just 2-3 jobs a year.

As for big commercial hydroseeders... most do bad jobs compared to residential hydroseeding contractors. They are competing for low bid, not quality work. Again, no one has attacked any type of machine or mulch just statements as to what LOCAL conditions dictate.