Is Seed or Sod Better For A New Lawn?

If you want to establish a new lawn, or reestablish an old lawn, you have two basic choices: you can plant seed and sprout your own new turf, or you can buy sod and roll it out like new carpet, ready to go.

The end result should be about the same if done correctly so what are the differences between the two options?

Seed Advantages

  • Significantly lower initial cost than sod.
  • More species of grass available as seed for sun and shade.
  • Lawn develops in native soil.

Seed Disadvantages

  • Takes longer to establish a new lawn as seed must germinate.
  • Water requirements are critical during germination.
  • May require reseeding after heavy rain.
  • Ideal time of year for seeding is limited to late summer and early fall.
  • Weeds can be a problem until lawn is established, especially if seeded in spring

Sod Advantages

  • Creates an instant lawn, which can be walked on almost immediately.
  • Virtually no weeds when installed.
  • Stops soil erosion right away even on slopes.
  • Can be installed any time during the growing season.

Sod Disadvantages

  • Much higher initial cost to establish lawn.
  • Choice of species is very limited, not shade tolerant.
  • Possibility of importing problematic non-native soil.
  • Large volume of water needed initially.

Whichever way you choose to go, the quality of the seed or sod is essential to establishing a healthy lawn. Initial soil preparation is also important. If possible, get a soil test done before starting so any amendments can be added to the soil. Compost may be necessary for clay soils. Rough as well as fine grading is crucial and control of perennial weeds is necessary before seeding or sodding to prevent them from taking over your new lawn. Tilling or covering with sod will not kill perennial weeds and an initial application of a non-selective herbicide may be necessary.

Newly seeded lawns must be watered frequently, but not deeply. It’s only necessary to keep the top ½ inch of soil moist, but you don’t need to deep water initially. Once the seedlings have emerged, watering should be done deeply and less frequently. Limit heavy traffic on lawn for first year until it has become well established.

Newly sodded lawns need a good deal of water initially to keep them healthy, however they will hold up well to foot traffic and can be fertilized on a regular schedule. Beware of shrinking as weeds can grow between the sections of sod. If you decide to go with sod, it’s best to hire a professional to do the installation and insure you get fresh sod.

Edited and posted by

McKee Homes online marketing manager

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11 thoughts on “Is Seed or Sod Better For A New Lawn?

  1. It makes sense that the quality is important. My family and I just moved to a new state and we don’t have much of a lawn. We’ll have to look into getting some grass.

  2. My husband told me that he just doesn’t have time to plant new grass seeds on our lawn anymore because he’s got work to do. I think we should have a residential service deliver some sod into our home instead. As you’ve mentioned, it can create an instant lawn that will allow us to walk on it immediately, so this may help relieve him from some lawn duties.

  3. I’m going to enter a lawn contest next year. It’s interesting to know that sodding will help me create a lawn instantly if I hire a company to do this for me. I think I’ll ask around to see if my neighbors do this and if they can recommend someone I can contact.

  4. I appreciate your advice to limit heavy traffic for the first year after you’ve seeded your lawn. I never really thought about how important it is to make sure that the seeds survive and grow and how walking on the lawn would make this difficult. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind when we go to seed a portion of our backyard. Thank you!

  5. Thanks for pointing out that sod will keep weeds from growing once it’s installed. My husband and I are moving into an older home and there’s a lot of fixing-up to be done, especially in the yard. I was debating between seed and sod for a while, but I knew that I wanted something low-maintenance. I’m glad to hear that sod will keep weeds from growing – it makes my decision a little easier!

  6. I never knew that seeding allows for grass to develop in native soils. My sister just moved to a new home. She has been looking at different grass installation options. I’ll be sure to discuss this option with her later.

  7. The house I just moved into is perfect, but the yard needs a complete overhaul. I wasn’t sure whether I should use seed or sod, but you mentioned that sod creates an instant lawn. I think that having instant results is much more important to me than saving money with hydroseed.

  8. My lawn is suffering and I need to get it reseeded. Thanks for the advice about how lawn develops best in native soil. Another thing to consider is to get seeds that are native to your area.

  9. I’m glad you pointed out keeping an eye out for the quality of seed or sod. You’re very right in saying hiring a professional would be better to identify quality. Due to weeds and moss we’re going to have to redo our lawn. I’ve been looking into sod and I like what I see.

  10. My wife and I are wanting to start a yard and do it correctly. This article has some great points on the different kinds of grass there is to choose from and how to do it. It looks we are going to try and do seed and see how well that works.

  11. I like what this article mentions about the quickness of sod over seed. I have been wanting to plant grass in my new yard for a while, but didn’t know whether to plant seeds or lay sod. I think sod could be more useful as it would provide us with an instant lawn that looks good. Thanks for sharing!

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