Hydroponic Lawn Posted on March 04, 2024 by Dave Fowler

A few years ago I was living in a house with friends and we had a frequent debate about what to do with the back yard. It was unpleasantly cemented but would have been a lot of work to turn back into grass. You need to either remove all the cement or put at least 18 inches of soil on top - either was a significant expense and inconvenience.

We also considered astroturfing but some of the housemates hated the idea of fake grass.

I was doing a number of hydroponic experiments at the time and decided to see if I could grow a hydroponic lawn on top of the cement.

I put seeds all over a coconut mat. Then I covered the mat for a few days to let it sprout.

10 days of growth

After 10 days I took the cover off and found that it came in nice and thick!

A fatal flaw however was that at this point stepping on the grass would unroot it. More time for the roots to anchor or using other or additional mat materials would likely fix the issue.

15 days

After a few days in the sun, it got really green and looked very much like a regular healthy lawn.

30 days

It then got a lot of rain and neglect and started to look pretty rough. There needed to be better drainage and a better way to keep the nutrients well applied and not washed away in the rain.

Potential Next Steps

I haven’t had the time to run any more iterations yet but if and when I do these were the main issues with corresponding potential solutions:

  1. The grass comes up when you walk on it
  • try multiple mat types and thicknesses
  • grow the grass longer before walking on it
  1. Keeping a yard of it watered and fertilized may be complex
  • potentially elevate on plastic platform tiles that help recycle the water
  • filtration system to keep the solution at the right nutrient levels
  1. It's always wet
  • plastic platform tiles flood and water from beneath
  • night sprinkler system with good drainage?

Other Applications

Dog Pee Pads

A bit ago I also learned about peeponics - where urine is used as the hydroponic nutrients - and had the idea that making one of these mats would be a great dog pee pad in the yard. Aoparently now that's a thing but I'm not sure anyone's done it with hydroponics yet. Potentially with the right system in place the dog and the grass could keep a sustainable balance.

Fodder systems

There’s already a large market for fodder systems, but I haven’t seen any that attempt vertical fodder with hanging mats. With the success I saw with the health of the grass in this system I think there may be some potential there.

Grass Walls

Wouldn’t a house covered in this look pretty cool?