Anyone who has ever tried to landscape a hilly or uneven area can attest to how difficult the process can be. The logistics of organizing and moving resources mixed with the many natural elements working against you can make planning and execution far more complicated than landscaping a more even space.

Erosion is one of these potential complications that is especially important to guard against. Forces of nature like wildlife, sun, wind and rain are unpredictable and can hit at any time to wreak havoc on freshly cultivated soil. And when hills are involved, issues like surface runoff and landslides have the potential to undo all the hard work you put in.

This is why it’s important for landscapers to know the ins and outs of all the different planting options available today. Sowing seeds generally involves carving out several rows into the ground in which the seeds are placed and then covered by a thin layer of soil. In broadcast seeding, the landscaper scatters seeds over a large area – this distribution is generally done using some sort of machine, though it can also be done by hand. Unfortunately, these traditional methods of planting seeds are especially susceptible to erosion as they leave the seeds either completely exposed to the elements, or protected only by a small amount of loose earth.

Using sod is one way for landscapers to combat soil erosion, however this method is limited to planting grass and it can be very expensive. Fortunately, there is a more modern, versatile and cost effective cultivation method available to landscapers today. It’s called hydroseeding, and it involves spraying slurry – a combination of seed, fertilizer and mulch that’s held together by a special bonding agent – over the entire planting area in order to cote the bare soil in an even layer of the mixture. Also, the slurry can be transported in a tank – often mounted on a truck or trailer – so it can handle areas of all sizes almost anywhere.

When it comes to erosion control, this planting alternative has a long list of benefits; here are 5 of its main advantages over more traditional planting methods.

1. Speed

The hydroseeding process is faster than alternate methods in every aspect. Spraying the slurry is extremely efficient, to the point that the process of spreading the seeds can be completed over 50% faster than conventional techniques. And because of the special bonding compounds used to compose it – called tackifying agents – the slurry binds to the soil almost instantly to provide a stabilizing force in the area and help the seeds to take root.

Additionally, with the ability to hold as much as 10 times its weight, the water retention properties of the slurry are exceptional – which is not the case with the hay or straw previously used to protect newly planted seeds and encourage growth. This extra moisture means that seeds can begin to sprout as quickly as 3-5 days after application. The immediate bonding and rapid germination serve to firm up the soil, helping to curb erosion.

2. Efficiency

Previously, the straw and hay used to keep seeds from blowing off or being eaten by birds could pose a major headache for landscapers. The potential mess from a windstorm diverted valuable time and resources from a project to cleanup efforts and killed efficiency. This is not an issue with hydroseeding because of the speed at which it attaches to soil. Additionally, it’s much easier to achieve a more uniform distribution of seeds, giving the finished product a much more orderly look while reducing man-hours.

3. Versatility

As opposed to sodding, hydroseeding can work with practically any seeds that you’d need to plant – whether it’s grass, pasture or field mixes, wildflowers, native plant life, etc. It’s also possible to create custom mixes of grass and other plant life to suit unique landscaping needs. Hydroseed upgrades and innovations are being made all the time, so new offerings and product improvements are constantly becoming available. It can also be used as a soil stabilizer – with no seeds – in the event of a wilderness disaster, such as a wildfire.

4. Safety

There’s no need to worry about any hazardous side-effects to the exceptional convenience and versatility of hydroseeding. The slurry used is nontoxic and poses no threat to the environment, wild animals, household pets or children. It will also not leave behind any stains on your house, driveway or the family car.

5. Price

At about a quarter of the price of sod, hydroseeding provides an exceedingly cost-effective planting option that’s also easier to install. The maintenance requirements are also not as extensive after initial installation as with sod, and the growth is uniform and lacks any telltale seams. Such impressive erosion control properties without the drawbacks of sod – and at a fraction of the cost – makes hydroseeding an excellent option for any landscaper.