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Honest and helpful Hydromulch tips and advice

Are you trying to choose between standard and ameliorated hydromulch? Here are the differences between them. Keep reading to find out what ingredients are used in each application and how they will benefit your site.

ameliorated hydromulch

Standard vs Ameliorated Hydromulch

Revegetation projects can range in size, anywhere from 100 sq.m up to 1,000,000 sq.m. When you add up the costs of a hydromulch application ranging from $0.25 to $6.50 per square metre, you want to be sure you’re spending your money on the right application for your site. 

You might be after the cheapest price, or you might have had failed applications in the past and need some advice on what to do for your site. After 40 years in the industry, one of the main questions we get asked is, ‘which is better? Standard Hydromulch or an Ameliorated Application?’. Well, the answer lies in the ingredients used and how they work to encourage grass growth and stabilise the soil on your site. If you choose the wrong application for your site you can end up paying more in rectification costs to achieve practical completion.

Which Should I Choose?

So, what does it come down to, cost or final result? For most people, the cheapest price is usually what they go for but take a moment to stop and think about what you’re paying for. Our tried and tested methods have proved time and time again that choosing the best mix for your site (not just the cheapest) is what is key to achieving the results you desire. 

Regardless of whether you’re starting to research hydromulch or you’ve worked in the industry for a couple of years, trying to figure out which application you need for your site doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. In this article, I’m going to break down the differences between a standard and ameliorated application. Keep reading to find out what ingredients are used in each application, how they will benefit your site, and which choice is best for you.

What is a standard hydromulch application?

standard application

Standard Hydromulch is a safe, non-toxic method of growing grass and is the most common application used on civil construction sites. It is hydraulically applied out of a cannon or hand-held hose, depending on access restrictions.

Standard Hydromulch contains the following ingredients:

  • Seed
  • Water
  • Organic Fertiliser
  • Cellulose Fibre (e.g. Wood-fibre)
  • Polymer Binder

Pros of Standard Hydromulch

Standard Hydromulch applications are suitable for a range of different terrains, varying from flat surfaces to slopes. They can prevent erosion from heavy rainfall, mining, construction or infrastructure works. This is done by protecting the soil until vegetation grows and stabilises it. These applications are generally considered the cheaper or standard option of revegetation.

Cons of Standard Hydromulch

The limitation of the application is that it only includes minimal fertilisers and no ameliorants in the mix, so it may struggle to continue germination in the long term.

Cost of Standard Hydromulch

Applications start as little as $0.40 – $0.80 per square metre. Check out our Pricing Page for a rough price on your project.

Who is a Standard Hydromulch a good fit for?

If you have good quality topsoil and are looking for erosion control and dust suppression rather than long-term growth, then a standard hydromulch application may be the right fit for you.

What if I need to address defect rectification on my site?

failed application

Reasons why your application may have failed in the past are likely a result of the application not being tailored to the site conditions. 

Not all applications are the same as different companies prefer to use their own or certain suppliers’ specific materials.

Different materials result in varying levels of mix suitability for your site. Soil testing is the key here. It removes the guess-work and tells you exactly what the soil needs to make the grass grow. The application can then be tailored to suit these results.

This is called an ameliorated hydromulch application. It is more likely to have the additives necessary to improve the health of the soil and create suitable nutrient levels for the grass to germinate.

What is an Ameliorated Application?

ameliorated application grass growth berrima

An ameliorated application is like standard hydromulch, except it has extra additives. These change the properties of the soil, improving the microbiology and providing the nutrition necessary for long term grass growth. For instance, fertilisers can be added to the mix to overcome mineral nutrient deficiencies. 

Depending on your site requirements, you might benefit from using an ameliorated application like a compost blanket. A compost blanket consists of:

  •         Seed
  •         Water
  •         Organic Fertiliser
  •         Inorganic Fertiliser
  •         Wood Fibre
  •         Polymer Binder
  •         And Ameliorants (Lime, Gypsum & Compost)

Pros of an Ameliorated Compost Blanket Application 

Compost Blankets provide the nutrients required for long-term grass coverage.

The materials and quantities used in the compost blankets derive from testing the soil and then designing the appropriate mix to suit. This allows for the best chance for successful results to occur.

About 70-80% of germination is achieved in four to six weeks, depending on climatic conditions and the rainfall received. 

Unless in extended dry periods, the application does not require any maintenance watering. Check out this video for more information.

Cons of an Ameliorated Application 

More expensive initially, but saves you money not having to do re-works. Doing it right, the first time, saves money on repeated applications if poor results are achieved with unsuitable applications.

Cost of an Ameliorated Application 

Compost Blankets vary from $0.80 – $5.00 per square metre, pending soil amelioration requirements (determined by a soil analysis). Check out our Pricing Page for a rough price on your project.

Who is an Ameliorated Application a good fit for?

  • You have used hydromulch applications in the past, but they have failed to germinate.
  • Your soil is of poor quality, or you have no topsoil. 
  • You require defects rectification.
  • If you’re starting a new project, compost blankets can help you set the stage for successful grass growth.
  • Projects requiring sustainable long-term growth and little to no maintenance watering costs.
  • If you need to address erosion control problems on your site. 
  • Like standard applications, compost blankets also incorporate wood fibre and polymer binder into their mix. Together with the added ameliorants, this forms a protective layer on the soil surface, holding the seed in place. Allowing for the application to remain intact in heavy rain, with ingredients washing into the surface rather than running off into the drain.

Case Studies: Ameliorated Hydromulch in Practise

Parkes to Narromine

P2N

The Inland Rail – Parkes to Narromine (P2N) project presented the problem of large-scale open areas, requiring fast applications and effective germination in poor quality topsoil along some 103km’s of the rail corridor. The specifications for revegetation required an appropriate methodology to ensure an appropriate outcome was achieved, and reworks were not undertaken or required. The ability to ameliorate the soils in-situ, along with covering large areas in a short-time frame led to delivering a successful result and client handover.

Oxley Highway 

ameliorated application

The Pacific Highway – Oxley Highway to Kundabung upgrade presented a variety of potential issues during the revegetation of the site. Valley Hydramulch & Revegetation was required to develop a solution to failing standard applications on site. A mix was developed and tailored to the site soil conditions. This application would provide successful growth on site soils even in heavy rain and with poor surface preparation.

Is Standard or Ameliorated Hydromulch Right for You?

Keep in mind, that your final choice will be based on your budget, the constraints of your project, specification and finish required. We always recommend soil testing and follow the intent of the RMS R178 Specification (the industry standard).

After 40 years of experience, the best advice we can give you is to choose a supplier with a good track record and proven results. As well as being able to communicate with you about what mix will work best for the site to achieve the results you’re after for practical completion without costly re-works. Remember that the key differences between applications lie in the ingredients used, which have a big impact on the effectiveness of the application. These ingredients also affect the success of the long-term growth on your site.

Depending on your site’s needs, you are now well equipped with enough information to decide on whether you require a standard or ameliorated application. If you’re still not sure what application you need, book a meeting with one of our friendly team members, and they will be happy to chat with you. Otherwise, if you’re ready to get a price, fill out a quote form on our website.

By the end of this article, you will be able to identify whether you need a compost blanket and why your site could benefit from using one.

compost blanket

You might be an engineer, project manager, or a site representative, who is researching hydraulically applied compost blankets as a solution to your site revegetation project. But you find you are already reeling from the amount of information available. Don’t worry, we get how you’re feeling. It was a lot to take in when we first started in 1981, and a lot has changed since then! But the one thing that has stayed the same is the misinformation or lack of understanding throughout the industry regarding what your site needs to achieve practical completion.

One of the main issues in the industry is failed long-term grass growth from using generic applications, which could easily be avoided if only the right application was selected for the site. We understand it can be confusing trying to choose the right application, especially when the wrong decision can lead to failed growth and costly reworks. A common misconception is that not all applications are the same, some of which do not contain the necessary ingredients for long-term growth.

At Valley Hydramulch & Revegetation (VHR), we have dealt with this type of enquiry multiple times over and have developed mixes based on tried and tested applications that have proven success rates across varying conditions over the past 40 years. We want to help you make the selection process easier and are happy to provide our experience and knowledge, to help you realise the following:

  • What is a compost blanket?
  • Why would you need a compost blanket?
  • Who is a compost blanket a good fit for?
  • Why they could be the best option for you.
  • And of course, the cost involved.

By the end of this article, you will be able to identify whether you need a compost blanket and why your site could benefit from using one.

 

What is a Compost Blanket?

spraying compost blanket

You will often hear people use the term spray grass or standard hydromulch, which is a mix of grass seeds, fertilisers, cellulose fibre, binder, and water. Compost Blankets are similar but have added ameliorants in their mix, which change the properties of the soil. These ameliorants include gypsum, lime, and compost, which help to promote long-term grass growth. The application is applied to the soil either out of a cannon or hand-held hose, depending on the access restrictions.

The materials and quantities used in compost blankets are derived from testing the soil and then designing the appropriate mix to suit. Compost Blankets are also free from hazardous additives, chemicals, and toxins and do not require maintenance watering.

The success of your application will be dependent on the ingredients used in the Compost Blanket and adequate surface preparation. The mix can be altered to ensure it is suitable for the site conditions present, which allows for the best chance for successful results to occur. Typically, 70-80% of germination is achieved within four to six weeks depending on climatic conditions and rainfall received.

 

Why would I need a Compost Blanket?

compost blanket growth at berrima

If you’re starting a new project, compost blankets can help you set the stage for successful grass growth. Other companies offer their own products at cheaper prices, but these applications do not always lead to the most effective solution or materials being used. In fact, you can end up spending more money further down the track if the grassing on your project fails because it wasn’t suited to the site conditions. 

Compost blankets are a good fit if you are looking to get your project back on track with rectification works of other failed applications, and to encourage long-term, sustainable grass growth.

 

Who is a Compost Blanket a good fit for?

checkbox for compost blanket

Compost Blankets are a good fit for: 

  • Erosion Control and Dust Suppression
  • Projects requiring sustainable long-term growth 
  • Little to no maintenance watering costs
  • Failed standard hydromulch applications
  • Poor quality soils and subsoils
  • No Topsoil
  • And defects Rectification.

Erosion Control & Dust Suppression

spraying compost blnaket at wsa

 

If you need to address soil erosion on your site, then a Compost Blanket might be the best fit for you. These applications have a polymer binder added to their mix, which, together with the cellulose fibre and added ameliorants, forms a protective layer on the soil surface, holding the seed in place. This allows for faster germination and protects the soil from the elements, preventing the application along with sediment and debris from being washed away by heavy rain. Compost Blankets can also aid in dust suppression by working to hold down the soil particles, allowing the application to remain intact in strong winds as well.

Sustainable Long-term Growth

compost blanket long-term growth

 

Projects requiring long-term growth would benefit from using a Compost Blanket as they have the ingredients, which contain the necessary nutrients for improving the health of the soil and creating a proper seedbed for the native grass seeds to germinate. By obtaining a soil test, you can create a site-specific mix and avoid further losses as this will tell you exactly what ingredients you need in the application to make the grass grow.

Little To No Maintenance Watering

All you have to do is apply the product and wait for rainfall, depending on the site conditions. For instance, if you apply a compost blanket, which still follows the TfNSW R178 Specification, and it is used on ideal soil, with good preparation, then it would not have to be watered and would remain viable for at least several months. Adequate rainfall will be enough to induce germination and growth.

Failed Standard Hydromulch Applications

failed hydomulch

 

An application can fail when it does not address the needs of the site soil or the conditions present. This is because not all applications are the same, as different companies prefer to use their own or certain suppliers’ specific materials. Different materials result in varying levels of mix suitability for your site. For instance, standard hydromulch applications do not contain any of the additives necessary for long-term growth such as lime, gypsum and compost. That is why it is always important to carry out soil testing to avoid using the wrong mix for your site.

The Oxley Highway to Kundabung project presented a variety of potential issues during the revegetation of the site and we were required to develop a solution to failing standard applications on site. Therefore, we tailored a compost blanket to the site soil conditions, which provided successful growth for the site even with heavy rain and poor surface preparation.

Poor Quality Soils and Subsoils

soil test

 

The additives in compost blankets work to improve the microbiology of the site soil and provide the nutrients necessary for germination and growth. Therefore, as long as you get a soil test done you do not need to have quality soil to start with as the application can be tailored to be site-specific and will provide everything the grass seeds need to grow.

No Topsoil

topsoil tractor

 

Long-term solutions can still be achieved without topsoil however, the grass that grows may not achieve the same results as it would with a layer of topsoil present. Topsoil is the layer in which the seed germinates and grows, and provides sufficient nutrients and organic matter to support long term growth. Topsoil is important when trying to grow grass as, without this layer of nutrients, grasses will likely struggle in the long term.

Defects Rectification

failed application

 

Compost blankets can be used to address rectification work but the most important thing will be to make sure you fully understand why it didn’t work in the first place. The easiest way to do this is with site soil testing. This will tell you exactly what the soil needs in order to fix the defects. Other reasons for defects may be due to not properly preparing the surface before application. This can harm the success of the grass growth.

For the application to be given the best opportunity for it to work, areas need to be lightly scarified or furrows created prior to the application. This is to ensure the application both penetrates the surface and creates a cover, whilst also allowing it to be absorbed into the topsoil in the event of rainfall. This will prevent the application from being washed away. 

 

Questions to ask yourself

berrima ariel view

 

  • Have you gathered enough information and determined that the compost blanket might be the best fit for you?
  • Did you want an option that doesn’t require excessive maintenance and watering costs?
  • Have you previously had a failed standard application like hydromulch, and want to know how to make the grass grow?
  • Have you got poor-quality soil that you need effective grass cover on?
  • Does your project need rectification?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be the right time for you to get in contact with one of our team to talk about the suitability of using one of our compost blankets on your site.

If after reading through this information, you decide that you are just after a standard application such as hydromulch or hydroseed, then a compost blanket is likely not going to be the best fit for you. Check out our Services page for more information on these types of applications.

 

How much does a Compost Blanket cost?

cost

 

The cost of a compost blanket will be affected by your site soil, the location and the size of your project and can cost as little as $0.80 to $5.00 per square metre. 

The quality of your site soil will determine the varieties and quantities of fertilisers and ameliorants that are needed in your mix. A simple soil test will determine what ingredients will be needed to achieve the desired results. For a more detailed breakdown of costs watch our ‘what does a revegetation application cost?’ video.

How do I buy a Compost Blanket?

When you’re ready to buy, the first step is to fill out our contact form with the details of your project, including the location, size, and type of application you require. Then a member of our team will get back to you within 2 business days just to clarify any details or request more information to provide you with an accurate price. Once this is completed, we will then send you a competitive quote. Once the quote has been accepted, we can schedule your job into our upcoming work.

 

Is a Compost Blanket the right fit?

Typically 70-80% of germination is achieved within four to six weeks of applying a compost blanket, depending on climatic conditions and rainfall received. The success of the project is also dependent on the ingredients used in the mix and whether they are suitable for the site. That’s why we always recommend soil testing as different sites and soil types call for different additives to improve the soil microbiology. A compost blanket isn’t always right for everyone but it can be a good fit for:

  • Erosion Control and Dust Suppression
  • Projects requiring sustainable long-term growth 
  • Little to no maintenance watering costs
  • Failed standard hydromulch applications
  • Poor quality soils and subsoils
  • No Topsoil
  • And defects Rectification

Now you are well equipped with the information you require to make an informed decision on whether a compost blanket is the right fit for your site. What’s next you might ask? Well, you can start by researching different suppliers to find the right one for your project. They all offer different applications and it can be confusing trying to choose the right provider but we have made it simple for you in this one-page document, Top 7 Questions You Should Ask Your Revegetation Provider (1min read).

If you are interested in our application’s prices, check out our Pricing page and use the cost calculator for a rough cost estimate. Otherwise, you can fill out our contact form or give us a call on (02) 4988 6111, and one of our friendly team will be happy to chat with you.

The following article compares the different Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums (HAGM) currently available on the market and outlines the ingredients necessary for successful long-term results.

Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums short-term growth Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums long-term growth 

What is the Key to a Successful Result?

You might be a small business owner or project manager who is researching Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums (HAGM), and immediately find that there are many different types of HAGMs available on the market. But how can you be sure that the application you choose for your revegetation project will produce the results you want? Your site may be left with an inferior application, which simply yellows off and dies, failing to produce the results you wanted. 

This is because not all applications are the same, some of which do not contain the necessary ingredients for long-term growth. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, we have seen clients make the same mistakes time and time again. This is often due to misinformation or a lack of understanding of the product. 

We don’t want to see this happen to you. That’s why at Valley Hydramulch & Revegetation (VHR), we care about your project and will do everything we can to help you choose the right solution for your site. We develop your mix based on tried and tested applications that have proven success rates across varying conditions. 

By the end of this article, you will be able to tell the difference between the ingredients used in currently available HAGMs. And also realise which ones are crucial to the effectiveness of the application in achieving long-term results. With the information in this article, you will be able to choose the right application for your site.

Keep reading to find out what the necessary ingredients in HAGMs are.

Necessary Ingredients in Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums

Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums Ingredients Comparison Table

What this table tells us is that the more solids content an application has, the more likely it is to contain the necessary ingredients, which are needed for successful long-term plant growth and seed germination. 

Take Heavy Compost Blanket Xtra for example, it has a high total solids content, which is made up of a good amount of ameliorants, organics and cellulose fibre, along with a heavy amount of fertiliser. You can see it is the most expensive application in the table but if you compare it to the Bark Blower Blanket, you will see that it is only 50cents more. Also, the Bark Blower Blanket does not contain any of the necessary ingredients for sustainable growth. 

This is an important point as even if an application has a heavy cellulose fibre content, it does not mean that the application will be successful. The effectiveness of the application depends on the type of fibre being used, along with the amount of fertiliser, ameliorants and organics added to the mix.

What’s in my Application?

It’s important to ask yourself this question as it can help you steer clear of applications, which are wrong for your site, saving you money on costly reworks. 

The easiest way to choose the right application for your site is by completing a soil test, which will tell you exactly what your soil needs. This offers the best chance for successful long-term results but you need to be wary of some of the applications on the market, which claim to provide long-term results. Not all applications are the same and it has to do with the ingredients they use.

You might have heard of other suppliers using ingredients in Liquid form in their HAGMs contrary to specification requirements that all ingredients are to be Solids. We understand this is done to save money but this practise should be avoided. Liquid forms are usually only intended for plants, which have already begun to grow. We support the industry standard practice of using Solid ingredients based on successful results obtained over the last 30 years.

The following charts outline the ingredients from the previous table to make it easier for you to compare the total solids content with the ingredients used in each application: 

Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums Ingredients Graph

Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums total solids pie chart

The Facts behind Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums’ Ingredients

adding ingredients to the hydromulching unit

  • Not all applications include the full range of Nutrients, Ameliorants and Organics to satisfy site soil test recommendations.
  • A variety of cellulose fibre types are used in different applications. The coarser forms of cellulose fibre, compared to the finely shredded Pinus Radiata wood fibre, are mainly for erosion control and do not contribute to plant development. 
  • Some suppliers recommend that site soil testing be conducted to determine whether additional site applications are required prior to the application of their HAGM.
  • Due to “commercial in confidence” considerations, most suppliers do not provide a full fertiliser, ameliorant and organic analysis, with full identification of the various ingredients. This would enable the determination of which additional ingredients would have to be applied in a separate application, to satisfy site soil test results and recommendations.
  • SDS’s are either not supplied, supplied as in-house documents, or do not provide any details or risks in the use of the confidential ingredients.
  • The quantity of cellulose fibre used in the applications is based on the bagged weight, which includes various fertilisers, ameliorants, additives, organics and binders. When these are taken into account, they can reduce the actual amount of cellulose fibre being applied by up to 30% resulting in non-conformance with specification requirements.
  • The coarser forms of cellulose fibre when used on steep batters usually have a qualification that meshing of the fibre onto the batter should be carried out to avoid wash off in heavy rain.
  • Various types of binders are nominated, and binders used must be re-wettable to be biodegradable. Non-rewettable binders with heavy cellulose fibre applications form an impervious surface. This prevents ingress of rainfall to the soil surface, which retards or prohibits germination.

Site Soil Management For Successful Results

Hydraulically Applied Growth Mediums annual grass cover

For a successful result you want to make sure you have the following:

  • A loose topsoil layer with horizontal furrows. 
  • This will enable water storage at depth and resist erosion.
  • Ameliorated site soils to site soil testing and application design recommendations.
  • And a Seed mix, which is suitable for site locality and fit for purpose.

Summary of key points:

  • Watering of applications to germination is not practical on large sites.
  • The Solids content for fertilisers, ameliorants and organics is what is important to promote germination and long-term development. Not a heavy cellulose fibre based application. 
  • Liquid ameliorants and fertilisers are not approved for use in current industry standard specifications.     
  • HAGMs need to be considered in light of what is proven effective over many years, based on current practices in soil chemistry and microbiology, as applicable to long-term rehabilitation works.

5 Fundamentals For Long-Term Results

five fundamentals for long term vegetation table

What this table tells us is that there are five fundamental requirements for successful long-term revegetation:

  • Provide an adequate seedbed for your site by properly preparing the soil prior to application.
  • Provide the correct amount of nutrition for your soil by using additives in your application.
  • Choose suitable seeds for your mix to produce the desired result. For example, adding natives for long-term development, along with annuals and perennials for short-term cover.
  • Getting enough moisture through rainfall or additional maintenance watering on your site. Most ameliorated applications do not require maintenance watering and can survive droughts.
  • And finally, obtaining enough sunlight, which cannot be controlled due to the fluctuations in the weather. However, you can try to plan ahead by planting the right seeds for the coming seasons.

For more information check out our Learning Centre.

Planning Ahead: What Can Go Wrong?

A successful result cannot be obtained with an off-the-shelf premixed one-off application without additional applications prior to addressing the deficiencies in the site soils. Unfortunately, we have seen this occur on numerous projects over the years, which has resulted in the contractor incurring substantial additional costs to obtain practical completion. Or the client accepting works, which require rectification (not maintenance works), for acceptable long-term results.

Due to inadequacies in current specifications and a lack of documented long-term success of available applications, clients often place their reliance on flume test results, rather than long-term results on completed projects when choosing a suitable application.

How Can We Help?

At VHR, we can provide independent certification of our established processes and documented details of compliant results at practical completion, and longer-term vegetation establishment. We can assist you with the following:

  • Progressive rehabilitation
  • Site soil testing 
  • Site-specific application design
  • Site sustainability
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Long term nutrient availability

If you have any questions feel free to give us a call or send us an email and one of our friendly team will be happy to chat with you and provide any additional information you require. Or you can head over to our Learning Centre and read more of our articles or watch some videos on how it all works.