I Am Starting A New Lawn. Which Is Better Sod Or Grass Seed?
By Jay Mclaren
Both sod and seed make a fine lawn. However, sod is much faster. Sod is green and practically ready to live on within ten days to two weeks of installation. Grass seed takes at least a year to make a fully developed lawn.
The preparation for sod or grass seed is the same. A brand new lawn needs to have a really good topsoil base. If the property is new, and fill has been used to grade around the house, four to six inches of good topsoil needs to be added over the fill. If the sub soil is light and sandy, a similar four to six inches is ideal in order to establish a quality lawn. The difficulty with fill or sand, as a base for grass, is that it is very poor at holding moisture and contains very few nutrients.
Once the top dressing of topsoil has been put in place, it needs to be raked with a garden rake to grade it evenly over the entire area. Make sure that any changes in elevation are negotiated as slow gentle slopes rather than by terraces.
Once the first raking is finished, the entire area should be rolled with a hand roller. This will compact the soil as would happen with rains or over-wintering. The advantage of it being compacted immediately, is that it can be re-raked, raking high levels into low levels, before the seed is applied. The result will be a very nice even finish.
Sod is first available in mid May. It comes in rolls approximately six feet long and eighteen inches wide, and so, covers an area of approximately one square yard. To estimate the number of yards required, simply measure the area in square feet and divide by nine. The sod is very perishable, and so, must be rolled out on the lawn immediately upon delivery. Because the sod is alive it must be kept moist for the first two weeks. Properly laid sod is beautiful almost immediately.
Grass seed comes in a variety of mixes blended especially for individual purposes. The first decision is what quality of seed is desired. Very cheap grass seed contains fewer grass seeds, and does not cover the same area. Better quality of grass seed will have a higher percentage of grass seed, which produces the best-finished lawn. The average coverage for grass seed is 250 - 300 feet per pound. Grass seed is put on after the rolling and second raking, and then, needs to be raked in again using a leave rake. As with sod, it is important once the seed is spread to make sure that even moisture is applied until the grass is up and has been mowed two or three times. First seeds will germinate in about ten days, but a better quality of grass seed is slower to germinate, so starts to thicken only after two or three weeks. It takes the rest of the season for the seeded lawn to grow and establish.
Both sod and seed should be mowed as soon as it is high enough for mowing at usual height. A common mistake is made to let the grass grow long so that it can get established. This is not a wise move. Similarly, both need to be fed fairly early. An application of starter lawn fertilizer on newly sodded and seeded lawns ensures that both get a good substantial start.
For the purposes of estimating costs, sod costs approximately ten times the price of grass seed. With both sod and seed, an ongoing maintenance program will ensure that a beautiful rich green lawn is established.
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