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Seeding vs. Sodding: What’s the Difference?

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To the untrained eye, establishing a new lawn may seem easy. After all, it’s only grass that you’re growing, right? Not at all.

You see, growing an entire lawn from scratch requires in-depth knowledge about grasses, especially the best way to grow them.

There are two primary ways to do so: seeding and sodding. When establishing a new lawn, you’ll have to choose between the two based on your specific circumstances, including how much money and time you can invest in your lawn project. It also depends on the area in question.

In this article, you will learn the key differences between seeding and sodding, the perks each process offers, and some tips offered by lawn care professionals in Urbana, Illinois.

To Seed or to Sod? 6 Factors to Consider When Choosing

Between seeding and sodding, you have enough options on how to get your desired results for the lawn. And while the end results may be identical, it is how you get there that varies.

The key difference between the two is the cost, and time needed to develop a mature turf. Of the two, sodding is a lot faster as it entails transplanting already-mature grass. Meanwhile, seeding establishes grass from an earlier stage, which means it will need more time to grow.

Deciding to seed or to sod your new lawn can be difficult if you don’t have any knowledge of the conditions that make one better than the other. 

To make the right choice, below are six factors you need to think about first:

1. Timing

As mentioned earlier, one significant difference between seeding and sodding is the length of time they require in completing an established lawn successfully. Sodding is quicker, not to mention more straightforward.

This is because, when seeding, you need to know the perfect time to sow depending on the type of grass you choose. Cool-season grasses, for instance, favor cold weather and germinate best in early fall.

Generally, seeding should be done late in the summer through the first few months of autumn. At this time of the year, the stress from summer heat no longer poses a threat to the seeds.

The second-best time is early in the spring. The difference between spring and fall is the season that comes next. Since spring is followed by summer, it would be a bit more challenging for grass to develop from seeds since the seedlings won’t have enough time to mature before enduring the stress of extreme heat.

Remember that improper seeding timing can lead to weak grass or even failure in its establishment, making it more susceptible to pests and disease.

2. Cost and Variety

When it comes to cost, the initial amount you need when seeding is much lower compared to sodding.

Labor expenses may be a bit higher for the latter because of the expertise required to perform the task. This means you may need help from lawn experts in Mahomet, Illinois to sod your lawn successfully. Otherwise, you’ll risk having visible seams, poor rooting and, ultimately, an unsightly lawn.

Meanwhile, seeding offers more variety of grasses to choose from, as sod suppliers choose only top-performing and premium grasses.

3. Growing Conditions

Seeding allows the grass to grow in the same place where it’s been able to take root. This means that it can grow a deeper and healthier root system since it remains undisturbed, unlike when sodded.

Plus, growing conditions may also vary significantly between your yard and the place where the sod was grown in initially. This means that the grass needs to adjust to different soil conditions and light levels, making it more difficult to establish a healthy root system. Since sod is usually grown in full sun, establishing your shady lawn may be difficult with sodding.

4. Irrigation and Fertilization Requirements

There’s not much of a difference in irrigation and fertilization requirements between grass grown from seeds or those sodded into place. Both need adequate water and fertilizer to thrive.

After seeding, your lawn needs frequent-but-light watering. Meanwhile, sodded lawns also need enough moisture so that the root systems don’t dry up before they have been established firmly.

5. Protection

The environment plays a crucial role in the establishment of a seeded or sodded lawn. In some cases, a newly seeded turf may require added protection, such as a cover of landscape fabric or light straw. You can also rope off the area to prevent people from stepping on the budding grass.

Of course, some of these covers will be removed once the lawn is established, usually within 28 days from seed germination. Others can break down on their own.

6. Weed tolerance

Seeding can leave your lawn vulnerable to weeds, which compete with them in light, water, and nutrients from the soil. While proper timing helps, sodding can give you a better chance of overcoming these unwanted growths.

This is because state-certified sods have very few or no weeds at all. Plus, they can out-compete weed seeds that attempt to take their place early on.

Preparing Your Turf for Seeding or Sodding

Seeding and sodding each have their own advantages. Once you decide which one to perform for your new lawn, it would also be best to learn how you can help the grass thrive.

Seeding

  • Make sure that the soil is prepared well. Remember that seeds will not grow in compacted soil, so make sure to dig into and break up the area where you want to sow grass seeds into.
  • Remove weeds and rocks that may hinder germination and root establishment.
  • You also need to pick the right kind of grass to grow, depending on where you are in the country.

Sodding

  • Measure the area to get the correct number of sods to order.
  • Dig organic matter into the soil for better water retention, aeration, and nourishment.
  • Rake through it one to two days before sodding to make sure that the soil is level and loose.
  • Once you’re ready, unroll the sod on the lawn in rows. Don’t leave any seams visible as much as possible. Place smaller sods in the middle.

Time to Make a Choice

Choosing between seeding or sodding a new lawn depends on several factors, as mentioned early on. Only you can decide which one best suits your property with enough guidance from lawn care experts.

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