The most common question that is asked by property owners regarding an underperforming lawn or creating a new lawn is whether to use seed or sod. When deciding which route to choose, there are three important considerations to make regarding establishment methods, turf-grass selection, site preparation and new lawn care. However, the major difference between the two methods is the time necessary for developing a mature lawn.
 
Having sod laid down on your property is basically installing a mature turf that has been cared for by a professional nursery establishment. However, in most cases the consumer is limited in the varieties of sod available. Seeding, on the other hand, involves a comparable process that is used to establish sod that can be accomplished by a professional or homeowner. Since there are so many of variables involved in seeding, homeowners may find it difficult to successfully establish a whole new lawn on their own and decide to call in a professional to do the work.
 
Regardless whether you’ve decided to seed or sod, you’ll want to consider the initial soil preparation by getting the soil tested first so any adjustments can be made before you start. Finding out the characteristics of the soil is an important aspect of the process, but one often neglected. If you initiate a good site preparation, maintenance will be simplified and a healthy turf will be guaranteed.
 
The soil with a mostly sandy loam is the best type for growing turf (like one you would find in Ancaster). This soil is predominately sand with some sludge and clay. If your soil is mostly clay, adding organic compost, such as 2 to 3 cubic yards of peat moss will open up a soil to air, improve the texture and provide moisture holding capabilities. Adding black earth is not the preferred adjustment since it often consists of silt and clay and therefore compacts down too easily. If your prospective site requires a large amount of fill, good quality topsoil that consists of less than 20 percent clay with no herbicides can be used to augment the area. Any soil ingredient that is used should be thoroughly worked into the existing soil. Once the site is prepared, it is now ready for seed or sod.
 
For a fair comparison, here are the advantages and disadvantages to using either seed or sod.

Seeding:

Advantages

  • Larger selection of grass types and varieties available.
  • Different blends of species and cultivars are available, such as sun or shade, disease resistance and soil type.
  • Turf develops best in its natural environment-where it will live.
  • Less initial cost than sodding.
  • Initially develops a stronger root system.

Disadvantages

  • Timing is critical to establish best results. Seeding is limited to mainly spring and early fall.
  • More weeds will occur in the springtime.
  • Takes a longer period of time for initial establishment of a dense lawn.
  • Reseeding may be required due to poor germination, wash outs or irrigation.
  • Consistent initial watering is critical for the young seedlings.

Sodding:

Advantages

  • You get an instant lawn within a day.
  • You can walk on it soon after it has been laid in place.
  • Significant reduction in the amount of dust, mud and erosion occurring.
  • No time limitation-may be put in place at any time of the growing season.
  • Inherently weed-free since grown and treated in controlled environment.
  • Less watering if adequate rainfall during the growing season.
  • Good for slopes or inclines.

Disadvantages

  • The initial cost is higher.
  • Fewer choices of the different species and management practices.
  • Choice is not produced to be shade tolerant.
  • If adequate natural rainfall does not occur, substantial watering required for root establishment.
  • Sod may shrink if not properly install and weeds may develop.