Lawn renovation is one of the major landscape tasks that a homeowner faces. Fortunately, if you do it right, establishing new turf in your yard only needs to be done every decade or two. For many, the most difficult question is whether to seed or sod. Reseeding and sodding both have advantages and disadvantages. Here are some things to consider before making a final decision about your new lawn.
Seeding or Reseeding a Lawn
Many turf experts regard seeding as the best way to establish a lawn. With proper care, newly germinated grass seed will grow deep roots, which help keep it healthy during harsh weather and times of drought. Growing a lawn from seed is not a fast process. It will take several weeks or months for your turf to look dense, full, and green.
If you do not need to start a new lawn from scratch, reseeding is the way to go. For sparse, thin lawns, as long as you do the right preparation, reseeding is an effective way to renovate your yard. It also allows for customization of seed mixes. With seed, it is easy to pick the best blend of grass species for the conditions in your yard.
Sodding a New Lawn
If you want an instant lawn, sod is your best choice. With the right attention, sod establishes quickly, creating a lush, green, new lawn before you know it. One disadvantage is that, compared to seed, fewer species of sod are available; you will not have as many options. Also, the cost of sod is higher. However, if your budget can handle it, there is nothing like watching your yard transform from bare dirt to green lawn over the course of a few hours.
Soil Preparation for a New Lawn
Whether you are seeding or sodding your lawn, the most important part of the project is the preparation work. Without good soil and growing conditions, your new lawn is destined for failure. Till the existing soil to at least six inches depth, mixing in compost and any other needed soil amendments. A soil test is the best way to get recommendations for any fertilization that may be necessary.
After tilling, rake out large stones, sticks and other debris. Make sure the surface of the soil is smooth and free of low spots or mounds. Then, you will be ready for your seed or sod. If you are reseeding without removing existing grass, you will want to aerate the soil and apply a topdressing of compost rather than tilling.
Spring and fall are the best times to establish a new lawn. Spring gives you a longer growing season, but water demands will be higher with hot weather approaching. Fall planting, if timed right, allows roots to get established over winter. Come spring, you should have new, healthy growth.
There is no right or wrong answer for the question of seed or sod. It depends on your time frame, budget, and the specific conditions in your yard. Whichever you choose, watching a new lawn become established is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have as a homeowner and gardener. A lush, green expanse of grass is a beautiful focal point for any landscape.