Home Improvement

Is the Cost of Sod Worth the Instant Grassy Lawn?

The cost of sod is usually the first thing a homeowner weighs when they’re debating a new lawn … well, that or “how much is grass?”

If you’re looking to re-green your landscaping, you’ve got two options: You can plant seed and sprout your own turf, or you can buy sod and roll it out like a plush new carpet. Either way, the results are the same. So you’re faced with the question: planting grass seed or shell out the cost for sod?

The answer boils down to time and money—and which you can afford more.

“Sod is instant lawn,” says Jim Shaw, director of marketing at Superior Sod in Tehachapi, CA. “You can go from dirt to grass in one day. It’s like getting a pre-roasted chicken at the supermarket. We’ve done all the work for you.”

Once the province of landscape contractors, laying sod is now common among do-it-yourselfers. After all, you can transform your yard in the blink of an eye with grass harvested and trucked in from a commercial farm. The catch is that sod remains the pricier alternative.

If, however, you don’t mind waiting three or four months while your lawn grows in, then starting from scratch by planting grass is cheaper.

The cost of sod

“Generally speaking, seed will cost about $20 per 1,000 square feet, and sod will cost about 35 cents for just 1 square foot,” says Stephen Knutson, vice president of Stover Seed Company in Los Angeles. Do the math and that five-pound bag of seed translates into savings of more than $300.

Other reasons to consider seed include the wider array of grass varieties to choose from and the ability to cover hard-to-reach sites such as steep slopes.

And, Knutson says, you won’t import any potentially troublesome non-native soil, either.

Getting ready to lay sod or plant grass

Whichever you decide, preparing the site is basically the same. The following steps are broad guidelines, so consult a garden professional for specifics appropriate to your area.

  • First, clear the ground of old or dead grass, undesirable roots and large stones.
  • Water to encourage weeds to emerge, then kill them with an herbicide and remove.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter and rototill.
  • Level the soil while it’s dry, tamping with a rake or roller. “Because sod is thick, you need to grade the soil an inch lower than sidewalks and driveways,” Shaw says. For seed, soil should be even with hardscaping.
  • Apply a granular fertilizer and moisten slightly.
  • Add the grass. “Sod is perishable, so install it immediately after delivery,” Shaw notes. Place the pieces end to end in precise rows, with no gaps and staggering seams like brickwork. Seed should be spread evenly at the rate prescribed on the package and covered lightly with mulch. Netting helps protect against hungry birds.
  • Water daily to prevent drying. For sod, keep the grass wet for one to two weeks. When using seed, light but frequent irrigation for two to four weeks is recommended to avoid washing seed away before it germinates.
  • Mow only after the grass is one-third taller than it should be. If you want it to be 2 inches, let it reach 3 inches before trimming.

Once your lawn is established, continue to water, mow and fertilize regularly.

Shaw and Knutson agree that with proper maintenance, your lawn should remain lush and inviting regardless of whether you shelled out the cost for sod or decided to start from scratch.

Updated from an earlier version by Emily Young.

Source By https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/grassing-your-lawn-seed-sod/