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Sod vs. Seed: Which is Best?

Lawn & Yard Care

By Marty Ross

Gardening can be a tricky business: There are lots of questions, but the answers can be elusive. Often, there is really no right or wrong—it’s just a matter of deciding what works best for you. The choice between laying down sod or growing grass from seed is just such a question.

Regardless of whether you buy sod or seed, you’ll need to take care of your investment. Make sure you have a long hose—long enough to place your sprinkler where it can reach every corner of the lawn. Gilmour’s Flexogen hoses are available in 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-foot lengths. They’re extremely durable, flexible and kink-resistant.

You’ll also need a good sprinkler, such as Gilmour’s Adjustable Pattern Master Circular Sprinkler, or an oscillating sprinkler such as Gilmour’s Wind-resistant Rectangular Sprinkler.

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They are both designed to water a large area, and they’re adjustable. Set them to water the lawn, not the sidewalk, the driveway or guests on the patio.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide whether to buy seed or sod:

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Seed:

  • Growing anything from seed is very satisfying, but it takes time. You’ll have to live with bare dirt for a little while, and you’ll need to limit walking on the lawn while the grass becomes established.
  • You can choose from a broad selection of grass types and blends. Look online for recommendations from your local extension experts, and shop with a list of their suggestions in hand. An important consideration is whether your grass will be growing in full sun or part shade.
  • Timing is critical. Sow seed for cool-season lawns (these lawns stay green through the winter) in late summer or early fall. Warm-season lawns (which are dormant during the cold months) should be seeded in spring or summer.
  • You’ll have to keep an eye out for weeds until the grass takes hold.
  • Sowing seed is the least expensive way to start a lawn.
  • Sod:

  • Sod provides instant gratification. If you’re planning an event in the garden, you can lay down sod the week of the party.
  • Most garden shops carry just one kind of sod. It’s likely to be a type recommended for your area, so you usually don’t have a choice of varieties.
  • You can lay down sod at any time during the gardening season.
  • Sod is a crop, and it is grown in sun. When you buy sod to put in a shady area, it will have to adapt.
  • Sod is weed-free.
  • Sod is more expensive than seed.
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    After you sow seed or lay sod, watering is crucial. Seeds should be watered lightly and regularly—every couple of days. A deep soaking is not called for here. Sod, on the other hand, should be watered thoroughly as soon as it is laid down. Keep it moist (but not soggy) for a couple of weeks, until the roots are knitted to the soil. It’s all right to peel up a corner of sod to check on the roots.

    If you like a challenge or you’re on a budget, plant seeds. You’ll enjoy the process, and you will be able to see your progress daily as the seeds sprout and grow. If you’re in a hurry or you don’t feel confident planting seeds, buy sod. In either case, the success of your project depends on careful watering. With the right tools, you’ll have a lawn to be proud of.

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