What’s your best new lawn strategy?
By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
Dreaming of a lush, healthy, emerald green lawn that is soft and thick underfoot – the perfect yard carpeting upon which to play, entertain, and relax this summer? Unless you already have a well-established and robust turf, it may be time to consider sodding or seeding your sorry-looking lawn.
“Sodding is as close as you can get to having a ready-made lawn,” says John Thomas, owner of Backyard Garden Geek in Dallas. “To sod a lawn properly, landscape specialists will often strip the current grass off your lawn, bring in topsoil to level out any areas that need leveling, then lay rectangular pieces of mature sod atop the newly leveled lawn.”
Sod contains grass, roots, and attached soil. It is grown off-site, carefully stripped from the ground and cut into squares or rolls, trucked to your location, and laid out by hand or machine, making for a labor-intensive process. But the benefits are plentiful.
“You can begin using a sodded lawn after one or two weeks, which is a lot quicker than it takes when seeding a lawn,” Thomas adds.
However, you may get higher-quality long-term results via seeding.
“With this option, loose grass seed is applied on your grounds with a broadcast spreader and then is usually covered with straw or other moisture-retaining materials to encourage growth,” explains Joe Raboine, outdoor living expert and director of Residential Hardscapes for Belgard in Atlanta.
The prep work for seeding is similar to what is required for sodding, he adds. First, the area must be graded properly to achieve proper drainage. Holes must be filled. And your grounds must be as flat as possible with no depressions. For seed, the top couple inches of soil must be tilled or raked to ensure that the seed can take root. This is also important for sod but not quite as critical. The deeper the topsoil, the more lush the lawn will be.
You’ll need to stay off your newly-seeded lawn for up to a month or longer; otherwise, the new grass may be damaged and you will have to re-seed certain areas of the lawn.
“Seeded lawns also won’t reach their prime for at least six months since the grass needs time to grow and mature. You’ll also inevitably find patchy spots that need a light re-seeding,” Thomas notes.
Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of San Diego-headquartered Lawn Love, says those who want to landscape their yards quickly are the best candidates for sodding.
“Those who have a new home built on an empty lot or are willing to invest some time to create the highest-quality outcome should go with seeding,” suggests Yamaguchi.
Keep in mind that, while sod will provide an instant lawn that requires less upkeep to get established, it’s a lot more expensive to lay sod than it is to seed.
“Materials can cost up to six times more than seeding. Seed will likely cost around $0.40 per foot, while sod will probably cost two dollars per square foot or more on average,” Raboine cautions. “It also requires a lot of labor to install, which will drive costs up. With supply chain issues currently and labor shortages at an all-time high, estimating an average cost can be difficult today.”
If you are able and willing to remain off your lawn for at least a few weeks, and you are okay with your lawn needing at least six months to look its best, seeding is probably your best bet.
“But if you have dogs or young children, or if you entertain a lot in your yard, I wouldn’t recommend seeding since you likely need to have immediate and ongoing access to your lawn,” recommends Thomas.
DIY homeowners can sod or seed their lawns themselves. But the experts strongly encourage hiring landscape professionals if you’ve chosen to sod.
“They’ve got specialized equipment that can rip off and dispose of current grass while leveling any uneven spots in your lawn,” explains Thomas. “I’ve laid my own sod, and I’ve also hired experts to lay sod for me. I’ve learned that if you can hire someone to handle your sodding project, you absolutely should – your back will thank you for it.”
The best time to seed or sod is springtime or fall.
“You want there to be plenty of moisture without any freezing temperatures or summertime sun beating down on your emerging lawn,” Yamaguchi adds.