Is Grass Seed or Sod Better for Building a Lawn?

You want to plant a lawn, but don’t know whether to plant grass seed or lay sod.  Which works better?  Which will give you the best long-term results?  Depending upon where you live, one will work better than the other.  Here’s how to decide which lawn building technique will be best for you.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Lawn Sod

Sod provides a homeowner with an instant lawn, and that is hard to beat.  It does require constant maintenance after installation.  Sod must be kept watered, and the homeowner needs to keep an eye on it to ensure that no fungal diseases are invading the lawn.  (Characterized by large dead circular shaped patches in the lawn.)  Prior to installation, the ground upon which the sod will be installed needs to be raked and leveled, and all weeds removed.   Sod is also more expensive than grass seed and must be installed on the day it is cut for it to be healthy.  A homeowner can prepare and plant grass seed his or her own lawn, but it is better to hire a professional to lay sod.  Never purchase a few squares of sod from a large home and garden store, because there is a great chance that it has been sitting for more than a day, and may or may not root well.  Sod works well for homeowners in either the north or the south—areas with cold winters and hot summers, or areas with mild winters and hot summers.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Planting Grass Seed

Planting grass seed is easier than sodding, if you live in areas where grass grows well from seed.  It is certainly less expensive, and requires about the same amount of maintenance after planting.  Seeded lawns must be watered frequently, but not deeply, to keep the seed moist during germination.  Food traffic must be strictly limited until the grass is at least two inches tall.  Seeded lawns grow best in the north, where there are hot summers and cold winters.  Bluegrass and rye are good types of grass seed for lawns.  In the south, where St.Augustine grass, Zoysiagrass and Bermuda are popular turf, sod is better for establishment.  If you seed your lawn and it rains, the germination pattern can end up being quite irregular, and you may need to overseed several times.

Lawn Installation Costs

The cost of installing a lawn does vary depending upon how much work a homeowner is willing to do himself.  It also depends upon the market.  Price of sod can run between $0.50-$1.00 per square foot, with installation running between $150 and $300 per pallet.  Grass seed costs about $0.01 per square foot.  Installation varies widely depending upon the method used.  Seed can be spread with rotary spreaders, or can be blown out of a hose with a material that keeps it in place.  The cost of professional seeding is much lower than sodding, as it is less labor-intensive, and requires less energy to transport the materials.  (Enough sod for 5,000 square feet would take tractor-trailers to transport.) Deciding which method of lawn installation is best for you depends upon the amount of money you wish to spend and your location.  Both sod and grass seed produce lush, healthy lawns under the right conditions.
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