Should We Seed or Should We Sod?

New grass turf being installed in a garden.

Sometimes we look out on that expanse of terrain we call our yard and shake our heads.

Regardless of what we do, that grass insists on being brown, instead of green. Those weeds we drove off our property have launched a counterattack and reclaimed their turf. Our dreams of “splendor in the grass” have turned into nightmares of despair in the dirt.

It is time to dig it up and start over. That brings about the question…Should we seed or should we sod? There is a common equation in the lawn maintenance game that will help answer that question.

If it has been determined that if 40 percent, or less, of a lawn is weeds, yanking them out and overseeding the existing grass is a practical option. If the lawn has more than 40 to 50 percent weeds, or numerous areas of dead or struggling grass, it’s best to start from scratch and totally renovate.

There will be, no doubt, a feeling of extreme satisfaction when one seeds his/her own yard and it grows to a glorious expanse of green. Then again, who among us truly has the time, patience and horticultural expertise for such a project? What guarantees are there that it will actually turn out as planned?

With sodding, the finished product is literally delivered to your yard by professionals who will expertly install it. For example, Smilsky Sod Farms of Tottenham has been laying sod for close to 70 years, as well as offering value-added service to ensure a lawn retains its lustre.

When it comes to cost, sod will be more expensive than seeding. Still, it can be worth paying extra for the knowledge and expertise.

Industrious homeowners could have the sod delivered and endeavor to lay it, themselves. Be advised, though, that improper installation leads to poor rooting, visible seams and failed, unsightly lawns. Effective results usually require trained professionals.

Handled and installed properly, new sod generally takes just two to three weeks to root well and become established. It is then ready for day-to-day lawn activities, including entertaining, play and pets.

To ensure that the sodding is a success from the beginning, Smilsky Farms offers key information.

Once the sod is installed, it should be watered immediately, thoroughly saturating the sod and soil underneath. Proper saturation is achieved when one can easily stick a finger two inches into the soil underneath and still feel the moistness.

It is advised that extra watering be done along edges as they will dry out first. It is important to maintain moisture for the first week, before easing up on the watering, going into the second week.

Once the sod can be given a good tug and not be lifted out of place, transplant is approaching completion. This usually takes one to two weeks.

At that point, mowing can commence. Maintain a height of 3 inches for the summer but try not to remove more than one third of the leaf length at a time.

A drawback to sod installation is that one is more or less limited to the grass varieties sod farmers choose.

Growing conditions in your yard may vary significantly from where the sod was grown and the adjustment to different light levels and soil might be problematic. Most sod is grown in full sun, so shady lawns can be challenging for sod.

Seeding a lawn is also a relatively simple process, if instructions are followed and proper diligence is applied.

It also allows greater flexibility in choosing grass varieties to match growing conditions. If your property has unique topographical characteristics and/or shady areas, seeding may be a more viable option.

There is the age-old problem of weeds and discussions on whether sod installation is better than seeding, or vice versa, when it comes to combating them. It is probably best to concede that weeds are inevitable and deal with them when they arise.

It is commonly accepted that weeds are more likely to grow in places with less grass cover. It is sometimes suggested that saturating a lawn with grass seed can help promote lawn density and discourage weeds from taking hold.

This is not an argument for seeding over sodding, since the grass seed would be applied to areas where grass exists in the first place.

It should also be noted that hearty weeds will push right through the seed and, because of the high seed rate, there will be too much competition resulting in a weaker plant. As well, with that much seed lying above ground, there will probably be rodent problems.

It is also a good idea to focus on the part of the lawn that gets the most heat. Venture outside in the early afternoon and find the hottest section. That will likely be the area most at risk of weeds.

On the other hand, aerating reduces compaction in the soil and allows for water and nutrients to enter the soil profile more easily, resulting in beneficial root growth. Depending on local growing conditions, this is a concern with established turf in the age range of three to four years.

Whether one chooses to self seed or have sod installed, it is vital to do one’s homework before going either route. Get to know your soil and its challenges before you move on to sod or seed. It’s an integral part of any successful lawn project.

Not to mention that proper planning prevents a homeowner from lamenting that “the grass is always greener on the other side”.

WRITTEN BY: DAN PELTON | RESOURCES: SMILSKY SOD FARMS, TOTTENHAM

Author: LivingSpaces

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