When a dark green mixture explodes 200 feet from the top of his truck in a "looks- like-toilet-water" fashion, Rusty Stokes finds that people want to know what the devil is going on.
"People have been stopping by and saying, 'What is this?'" he said of the inquisitive nature of passers-by while he and his brother have worked the past two days at the grounds of the new Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.
The putrid-colored spray shooting from his 3,300-gallon truck has little to do with toilet water and a lot more to do with healthy slopes in the three water-retention basins at the hospital.
"What we're doing is seeding the basins," Stokes said. "We're spraying the slopes and the basins with vegetation. (When) the plants (grow), they will help retain the hillside because they'll be rooted in."
The hydroseed mixture includes a tackifier - a glue that bonds the hydroseed to the hillside - a pellet fertilizer, a liquid fertilizer, mulch, seed and water.
Stokes and his brother Mike, both with Sierra Erosion Control Inc., expect to finish the nine-acre job by Thursday. Stokes is part owner with another brother, Joe.
"This is one of our most expensive applications," Stokes said of the mixture. "It's the best you could use."
He said the pellet fertilizer is state-of-the-art and the kind used to grow fruits in California.
The seed mixture consists of 24 plants from the grass, brush and flower families. One is a wildflower mixture with 30 flower types. In all, 54 species of plants are being sprayed into the basin hillsides - all of them plants indigenous to the area - like bitterbrush, yarrow-white, mountain mahogany and Mormon tea green.
"It'll take three to five years to see the effects of what we did," Stokes said. "But there will be some species that grow right way."
By early afternoon Tuesday, the brothers began work on the second basin. The first basin had been completed Monday, but water in the bottom prevented a complete application. Stokes sprayed the first basin nine times, with 3,000 gallons of water each.
Sierra Erosion Control will soon be in its sixth year. Its employees recently sprayed a 19-acre mound of dirt dug from Reno's train trench.
The cost of Carson Tahoe's hydroseeding is being shared by the hospital and by Carson City, said Cheri Glockner, spokeswoman for the medical center. A variety of landscaping projects are under way this week at the hospital, and completion depends on the weather.
"We're looking to have the landscaping done by the end of the year," Glockner said. "We have quite a bit left to do."
--Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.