Sod Vs. Grass Seed: Which One Should You Choose?
If you are considering a lawn remodel, or starting from scratch with a new construction, deciding between sod and seed may not have occurred to you. Unless you take special pride in the entirety of your lawn, most people put little thought into their grass beyond mowing it. However, you’ll find a wide variety of grass species to choose from for a customized look. You just need the right information to make the right decision.
What is sod?
Sod is a popular choice because it is low maintenance. Farmers around the country grow an incredible amount of grass specifically for this purpose. After being cut and rolled into strips, the grass is ready to be transplanted. The farmers at The Sod Source grow seven varieties for residential, commercial, sport, and private park use. How do you know if sod is the right choice? Here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider:
- Since it is pre-grown, sod offers instant results as a transplant. There is no waiting period for grass to grow, taking out the guesswork.
- After transplanting, the roots only take 2-3 weeks to set, making your lawn ready for regular foot traffic.
- If you have issues with erosion or a sloping lawn, the soil will hold the sod in place. This is an excellent way to control eroding soil.
- This is definitely the more expensive choice. You are not only paying for the product but also for the time and effort put into someone else growing the seed for you.
- To have properly laid sod, you will also incur installation costs. You could go the DIY route, but it’s a tricky thing to do. With improper installation, you risk seams that don’t grow together and weeds that find their way in between. As a result, your extra investment in sod becomes a waste.
- If you discover you have a mix of growing conditions, such as full sun and full shade, you will need a product that can accommodate those conditions. Most grass sod varieties prefer full sun, so it’s important to pick the right kind.
What is grass seed?
Grass seed starts from the beginning of the growing cycle. It is the planting, germination, and rooting of the grass. Purchasing a lawn spreader from your local home improvement store makes the task of planting the seed more effective. You’ll want to use a gardening rake to loosen the soil first, then rake the area again after spreading. There is a lot to understand, so here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider:
- The #1 advantage is the low cost. Seed and equipment costs are only a fraction of what you pay for sod.
- Most homeowners can lay seed without the help of a professional installation service, saving them even more money by taking the DIY approach.
- Grass seed provides a wider variety of options. If you have a specific species you are looking for, or need customizable grass choices for your region, it is the better choice.
- Grass seed is much pickier when planting it. It is necessary to follow proper growing procedures, or your entire project could fail.
- Many factors will affect germination, but it is crucial that you let 10-12 weeks pass before allowing even light foot traffic.
- Erosion is not a friend of seed. Since seeds are planted in shallow soil, heavy rains can easily wash them away before they have a chance to take root.
Sod or seed? How do you decide?
Some decisions are made for you based on the conditions of your lawn. Seeds have a harder time competing with weeds for nutrients than sod does. After a visual inspection of your lawn, if it is over 40% weeds, sod is likely to be a better option. The same goes for erosion. With a sloping lawn or issues with erosion, sod is your best choice. Other factors are a matter of personal preference. What is your budget? Do you want a high-quality grass species that needs some TLC during the growing process? Seed is a better choice for those with specialized interests or budget needs.
Whether you are laying a new lawn, or doing a remodel, choosing sod vs seed takes an understanding of your land and needs. You will need to decide if time or money is the best investment for this project. Either way, using this information will result in a lawn that is strong, thick, and beautiful.