When it comes to renovating a poor performing lawn, or establishing a new lawn, you have two main choices seeding or sodding. Both offer advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific needs. In this article, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of using sod for establishing a new lawn, or replacing a poor growing existing one.
Sod or turf is a type of pre-grown, rolled grass application applied directly to the lawn area. According to the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program, sod is typically a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, perennial ryegrass or tall fescue. These grass types are cool-season, which means if the method of application were seeding, they would grow best during mid-August through mid-September. The reason for this is that cool-season grasses often compete with weed growth during the late spring through mid-summer months and prefer warm days and cool nights. However, sod does not application can occur at any point during the growing season.
Advantages of Sod
• Application Time- According to the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program, sod application can occur at any point during the growing season when the ground is not frozen. However, sod application must occur during a point where proper irrigation is available. Otherwise, the lack of water and hot summer temperatures can dry out and kill the sod grass.
• Instant Growth- Once applied; sod appears as an instant lawn, which is a desirable trait for homeowners who do not wish to wait for grass seed to take root.
• Weed Growth- Weeds are simply plants that exhibit hardy growth in an undesirable growing location. A variety of weed species can infest establishing lawn, which can cause a huge headache for growers. However, because sod is applied directly over existing soil, weed competition is rarely a problem. Use non-selective herbicides to control weeds before laying sod to ensure weed competition does not become a problem.
Disadvantages of Sod
• Cost- Sod, grown in specialty areas and cut for distribution, is very expensive compared to seeding. If you are considering using sod of grass seed, it is important to weigh the opportunity costs. If using cool-season grass seed, it can take up to one year before the grass establishes itself. Although sod is more expensive, it is instant, with results noticeable directly after application.
• Maintenance- Sodding is similar to seeding in the sense that it requires extensive care to establish proper growth. According to the Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program, sod requires about 1 inch of watering every 2 to 3 days, depending on the weather conditions. However, overwatering can cause poor rooting and various fungal diseases. Sod also requires the use of nitrogen rich fertilizes, such as 2-1-1 or 4-1-3 for proper growth (URI). The reason maintenance is a disadvantage is because if sod is improperly cared for it could cost the grower a lot of money for another application.
• Grass Types- Most grasses offered for sod are cool-season grasses, which gives less of a variety than the multiple grass types available from seeding.
Personal experience working as a garden supervisor at a local hardware store