Should You plant Seed or Install Sod on that new lawn?

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Perhaps no one ever bothers to count them, but there are a lot of tiny little grass seeds in a pound, and given a fighting chance, each one has the intention of becoming a healthy, vigorous grass plant.

That fact alone suggests a lot of grass potential. Coupled with the investment of a little bit of inspiration, reasonable care and an appropriate passion for beautiful, lush lawns, all it takes is time, water, and patience for lawn-building–a handful of grass seed sprouts and grows into something green and beautiful.

There is little doubt sod is faster. If sod is healthy, it’s already green and fresh. It comes in handy rolls. Measure the yard, order the sod one day, install it the next; roll it, water it, and before you know it, you have lawn you can sit upon. Grass you can cut. Better yet, it is grass you can party with, grass you can show your friends. You may be inexplicably proud of it. Instantly. If seed may be called patience, sod should be labeled instant gratification.

Lay out Sod

In practice, sod consists of mats, or rolls of grass sod. A sod installation complete is actually a carpet of grass with lines and seams. it is instantaneous, but it is also grass that dries out along the edges if you forget to water it. Try it, you’ll see. Even if it is watered religiously, or poorly installed on improperly prepared soil, sod may tend to dry out along the joints.

Sod is only as good as the installation and the grower that produces it. Cheap sod may be imported and if the sod grower has been careless, it may have established weeds growing in it before it is installed; it may be stressed, or may be entirely the wrong variety of grass for your geographic location.

That truckload of sod may be a shoddy collection of mixed left-overs from other sod jobs done by shady contractors, and there is nothing quite like having four rows of Bermuda grass with a few patchy, stressed rolls of blue grass right down the center. Mistakes are made.

If sod is badly stressed before it is delivered, it also may be doomed. Did the grower cut it specially for you just before delivery, or has it been sitting out in the sun for a month? Did it dry out at some point? How far was it shipped in the heat without being watered? Sod will invariably roll out when you get it, but growing and surviving may be another matter.

Planting Seed

Seed is certified, cleaned and labeled; perhaps incorrectly at times because mistakes are made, but quality control requirements are substantial in the production of any agricultural seed product.

A large variety of grass seed comes in neat little bags. Choose any combination, premixed types, or mix any seed you desire, as long as it is suitable for the geographic location you live in. Go for it. Prepare the soil, plant the seed, roll it, water it, and wait.

With grass seed there is a matter of patience. Growing grass from seed does take time. Anywhere from five days to 3 weeks later, the grass comes up like magic, and with a little care, a lush, green lawn is within your grasp. No seams. No joints. No loose corners curling up and turning brown. Nobody steals seeded grass, but can roll up a a brand new sod lawn in a couple of dark hours and drive it away.

Yes, grass seed is better than sod, –unless you’re in a hurry to have that huge garden party on Friday night. Regardless, the soil must be prepared properly for either installation.

Maybe it’s just the beauty of growing lush green grass that is the greatest appeal–regardless of method.

© Raymond Alexander Kukkee

Raymond is a freelance author and writer who practices traditional and experimental gardening using natural, sustainable methods in the challenging Zone 3 environs of Northwestern Ontario. Read more articles by Raymond.

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