Which Is Better – Grass Seed or Sod?

Man rolling out sod

The cooler fall season is the ideal time to revive your lawn. As we approach fall, the question often comes up which is better – grass seed or sod? The answer, of course, is “it depends!” If you want a lush, green lawn you can get there either way. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. 

The advantages to installing sod. Probably the number-one advantage to sod is the instant gratification. We will often install sod on construction projects that have a pressing schedule where the client wants “instant grass.” Sod will take root within three weeks’ time and can be walked on. Sod is also a durable choice for installing a lawn in the middle of summer. Sod is also effective when erosion control is needed. While it can be tough to get grass seed establish during summer months, sod will thrive if installed quickly and watered regularly. 

The disadvantages to installing sod. The first thing comes to mind is the cost. It is labor-intensive and time-sensitive. Sod must be installed within 24 hours of delivery, or it will die on the pallet. Although not a deal-breaker for most folks, sod is also limited in grass types. Sod is a full-sun turf grass, typically comprised of a mixture of perennial rye, bluegrass, and fescues. It requires at least four hours of direct sun to become established as a healthy lawn. A sod lawn that is installed in shady areas can be susceptible to fungus and will not likely look as good two years after you put it in. 

Advantages of grass seed. The number-one reason our clients opt for seeding a lawn is because it is far less expensive than installing sod. They are willing to pamper their newly seeded lawn and wait for the results. As landscapers, we like the versatility of seeding. Being able to custom blend seed for the site conditions – like sun or shade – yields great results in the long term. Grasses that naturalize themselves in the lawn also tend to be more disease-resistant and acclimated to the environment. Hydro seeding is an excellent option that gives you fast growth and a healthier lawn – although not as instant as installing sod. 

Disadvantages of grass seed. It takes a full year to establish a healthy lawn from seed. Perennial rye comes up quickly; but bluegrass has to reseed itself throughout the season. Watering times for newly seeded lawns need to be adjusted from light watering several times a day to less frequent, deeper watering throughout the summer months. The third major disadvantage with growing a lawn from seed is weed competition. Lawns that are seeded in the fall stand a better chance of becoming established than lawns planted in the spring. Either way, a comprehensive lawn care program is necessary to give seeded lawns fighting chance during their first year. 

The best advice we can give you is to let us help you to decide what lawn option works best for you!