Diverse Needs, Diverse Seeds

Monday, April 1, 2013

By Margaret Buranen

March/April 2013

Erosion Control magazine, the official journal of the International Erosion Control Association

Camp Pendleton Fire
After a fire burned 115 acres at Camp Pendleton in California, the US Marine Corps called up Hydrosprout of Escondido, CA, to restore the land. Hydrosprout, owned by Larry and Suzanne Brendis, drafted S&S Seeds in Carpinteria, CA, to provide the products required for the job.

"We used wood-fiber mulch, paper-fiber mulch, binder, and seed that was site-collected from Camp Pendleton," says Mark Webster, operations manager at Hydrosprout. "All products were from S&S Seeds."

Founded in 1975, S&S Seeds is a wholesale company that supplies wildflower, grass, shrub, and California native plant seeds to companies working in reclamation, erosion control, and landscaping. S&S carries seeds from more than 900 species of plants.

Premeasured wildflower and other seed mixtures are available. However, S&S is best known for custom designing seed mixtures for specific projects.

The company's seed experts consider climate, soil type, available moisture, and other factors. If necessary, they secure permission to collect seeds onsite so that the native plants will thrive there.

"We use S&S seeds often; they are the largest native seed supplier in the Western states. They carry or can collect a wide variety of native seeds," Webster says.

His Hydrosprout crew took three weeks to complete the project at Camp Pendleton, using two Bowie Imperial 300 hydroseeding machines. The rugged terrain meant that the area was inaccessible to the machines, so the seed mixture was spread from a helicopter.

"Mixing of the hydroseed materials was also a critical part of the project. We had to make sure it was the right consistency for the helicopter's bucket to pick it up out of the mixing tank that our hydroseeding machines were feeding," Webster explains.

He notes that "the weather definitely could have played a role in this project. Fortunately for us, we had awesome weather that didn't interfere with the helicopter's ability to perform." The site's inaccessibility meant that "we did a lot of hiking through the mountainous terrain to make sure we were getting good coverage from the helicopter drops," he says.

"Taking on a project of this magnitude can be a little stressful at times. What was amazing about it was that once we got going each day, we got into a good rhythm with the helicopter contractor and our crews that were mixing the hydroseed," Webster says. "We completed the project ahead of schedule with no complications. It was a very rewarding project for Hydrosprout."

Of hydroseeding, Webster says, "All of our business deals with erosion control. Vegetation resulting from hydroseeding is the best line of defense for erosion control."

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