Seeding vs. Sodding a Lawn

Seeding vs. Sodding a Lawn

“Should I seed or sod?” is one of the most common questions homeowners ask landscapers, whether it is regarding establishing a new lawn by scratch or repairing the bare spots on a lawn. The answer to this question depends on many factors like the type of grass you want to establish, the maintenance you are willing to undertake and how long you can wait, among other things.

Lawn care is all in the details, and we take care of every single one to give you the lawn of your dreams. Contact us today!

Eden discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both seeding and sodding in this article so that you can choose which lawn establishment method works best for you. Edenapp also answers other common questions regarding sod maintenance and how long one should wait before walking on newly established sod. Let us start with understanding what exactly the process of seeding and sodding implies.

What is Seeding?

Seeding is the process of establishing a new lawn from scratch by planting the desired grass seeds in a prepared plot. For seeding a lawn, first, the soil is tested to determine the pH level and nutrient deficiencies. After this, the area is tilled before any amendments are made to fix the pH level or other deficiencies so that the amendments are effectively absorbed and spread in the soil.

Once you have aerated, fertilized, and fixed the pH level and composition of the soil, the area is seeded by distributing seeds evenly throughout the area using a spreader. The seeded area is covered to protect it from the elements and from birds. The seeds also need to be kept moist constantly for the first week to ensure healthy germination. When the right growing conditions are provided to the seeds, there is a higher yield, and you get a dense lawn as a result.

The process of seeding does not produce a lawn immediately as the seeds take time to germinate and then establish roots. Depending on the grass type, the seeds can take anywhere from 10 to 21 days to germinate and then a few weeks after that to establish roots.  If you want to know how to establish a lawn by seeding, read Eden’s article – Best Practices for Planting Grass for a New Lawn.

Advantages of Seeding

The advantages of seeding are given below.

  1. Wider range of choices for grass type: More grass species and cultivars are available for seeding than sodding. Therefore, you can choose the grass type you want to establish without any restrictions.
  2. Lower cost of establishment: Establishing a lawn by seed costs less than establishing a lawn by sod, as you are not using grass that has already grown and established roots.
  3. Less labor-intensive: Planting grass seeds is less labor-intensive than rolling out and placing each piece of sod by hand, and this is especially true for larger lawn areas.
  4. Deeper initial root system: Planting grass seeds on the lawn and allowing them to grow in the same place helps them develop a deeper root system initially compared to establishing sod grown elsewhere.
  5. Can be used to repair existing lawn: If there are any bare spots in a lawn or if your lawn is thinning, you can seed it (reseeding for bare spots and overseeding for thin lawns) to get a thick and lush lawn.
  6. Adapts to external conditions easier: Planting grass seeds and allowing them to grow in the same place they are planted, helps them adapt to external weather conditions faster and easier compared to sod that has grown somewhere else.

Disadvantages of Seeding

The disadvantages of seeding are given below.

  • Takes longer to establish the lawn: The major disadvantage of establishing a lawn by seeding is the time it takes to produce a lawn as grass seeds take 1 to 3 weeks to germinate, depending on the grass type and then it takes three to four weeks more for the lawn to be fully established. Therefore, it can take upto two months to establish a lawn by seed.
  • Limited time frame for establishment: For effective results, the grass seeds need to be planted during the growing season of grass according to the type. Warm-season grasses should be planted in spring and cold-season grasses should be planted in early fall. Due to these specific planting times, the timeframe to establish a new lawn by seed is limited.
  • Newly seeded lawns cannot be accessed for a while: Newly seeded lawns are vulnerable and therefore should not be walked upon as you will trample seeds and thus kill them. This will result in a very thin lawn. This means that you cannot access the newly seeded area until the lawn is fully established.
  • Initial irrigation requirements are higher: The seeds need to be constantly kept moist for the first week, which means that you need to water the lawn everyday for the first week; you might even need to water more than once a day if the conditions are particularly dry.
  • The seedlings might need to compete with weeds: When the soil is tilled to prepare it for lawn establishment, there is a chance of dormant weed seeds coming to the surface and competing with grass seeds and seedlings.
  • The seeds may get washed away: The newly planted seeds are vulnerable as they are not planted deep in the soil and therefore can get washed away due to rain or overwatering.

What is Sodding?

Sodding is the process of installing rolls of mature turf that was grown and maintained by a professional in a new lawn area. Sod is cut in long strips with about an inch or two of soil attached to the turf using a sod cutter and in a way that does not damage the roots of the turf too much. The long strips are then rolled like a carpet. There are different types of sod and you can choose the one that fits your requirements, weather conditions and location the best.

Sod is generally sold in the form of pallets and one pallet can cover a lawn area of around 450 square feet. In some cases one pallet of sod can cover about 650 square feet of lawn. Eden recommends confirming with your supplier regarding how much area one pallet of their sod will cover.

The process of establishing a lawn by sod gives you an instant lawn as the turf is already mature and does not require a germination time. This means that one day you have bare space in front of your house and the next day you have a lush, green lawn. 

Advantages of Sodding

The advantages of sodding are given below.

  • Gives an instant lawn: Sodding produces a lawn instantly as the turf is already mature when it is transplanted to your property. Therefore, there is no bare land while you wait for the grass seeds to germinate and establish themselves. You might not be able to walk on the sod as soon as you place it in your lawn but it definitely looks like a lawn as soon as it is transplanted.
  • Can be established any time of the year: Unlike seeding there is no best time to establish a lawn by seeding which means you can transplant sod into your lawn at any time of the year, except for winter as grasses either go dormant during this time or the ground is too hard due to frost.
  • Less risk of competition by weeds: Since turf meant for sodding is grown in a controlled environment, it is essentially weed free. You just need to ensure that your soil is free of weed seeds before seeding and you can go without worrying about competition from weeds for the rest of the season.
  • Controls soil erosion: There is no risk of soil erosion with sod as the grass is already holding the soil together. Therefore, you don’t have to worry if it rains a few days after sodding.
  • The lawn can be accessed quicker: Unlike seeding, you don’t need to wait around two months to walk on your new lawn. Sod takes less time to establish on the new soil as the grass has already developed a root system.
  • Initial irrigation requirements are lower: Sod only requires light watering to ensure that the soil attached to the turf integrates well with the soil below. It doesn’t require constant watering like grass seeds do.
  • Better suited for lawns with slopes than seeding: When lawns with slopes are seeded there is a risk of the seeds getting washed away along with the soil due to rain. But, when these slopes are sodded, the sod will hold the soil and prevent runoff. 

Disadvantages of Sodding

The disadvantages of dodding are given below.

  • Higher cost of establishment: Since sod is mature turfgrass, it costs higher than premium grass seeds and therefore the cost of establishing a lawn by sod is higher than establishing a lawn by seed.
  • Labor-intensive: Grass seeds can be spread with a spreader but sodding requires manual labor. Each piece of sod needs to be placed correctly by hand and this makes the sodding process physically exhausting, especially for larger lawns.Therefore, Eden recommends hiring a landscape professional for sodding.
  • Fewer grass varieties and cultivars to choose from: Unlike seeding, not all grass varieties can be established by sodding. Therefore, homeowners might not be able to sod their lawns with their exact grass type preference.
  • Needs to adapt to new growing conditions: As sod is taken from its original growing location after it is mature and transplanted to a new location, it is important that it adapts to the new conditions otherwise the entire endeavor might fail. 
  • Short transplanting window: The window of transplanting sod after it is cut is small as we are essentially uprooting the grass. Sod needs to be established within the same day it is harvested, that is, within 24 hours.

Is Sod Hard to Maintain?

No, sod is not difficult to maintain if you know how to maintain it. While establishing a lawn by sod gives you a new lawn instantly, it is important to follow basic maintenance tasks like proper irrigation, fertilization at the right time, and waiting to mow the lawn till the grass reaches 3 inches in height to ensure you get the best return on your investment.

How Long After Sodding a Lawn Can You Walk on It?

You should wait until after the first mowing before you walk on the lawn and this means you need to keep your children and pets away from the newly sodded lawn as well. The first mowing of the lawn will be after the grass reaches a height of 3 to 3.5 inches and the time it takes the grass to reach this height will depend on the grass type. Grasses like Bermudagrass and Ryegrass grow very fast while others like Centipedegrass and Buffalo grass grow slowly.

What are the Other Ways to Establish a Lawn?

Apart from sodding and seeding, the other ways of establishing a lawn are given below.

  • Hydroseeding: Hydroseeding, also known as hydromulching, is the method of establishing a lawn where a hydroseed mix containing grass seeds, water, mulch, fertilizer, and soil amendments are applied to the bare lawn at high pressure by a specialized hydroseeder tank. 
  • Sprigging: Sprigging is the method of establishing grass where sprigs of grass are taken from a sod form and cut, so that each grass sprig has at least two stolon or rhizome nodes for vegetative propagation..
  • Plugging: Plugging a lawn is the method of establishing grass where grass plugs, which are small patches of grass (about 2 to 4 inches wide) are planted in a bare lawn and then allowed to spread to cover the entire area.

Eden provides high quality sodding service with no risk of failure of establishment. Contact our experts to get a lush and healthy new lawn instantly!

Lawn care is all in the details, and we take care of every single one to give you the lawn of your dreams. Contact us today!

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