Deciding upon seed or sod poses many questions for homeowners that are in the market for a lush, green lawn. As you educate your customers on the major differences between sod and seed, this post will help you to explain the pros and cons of each and address the more common questions they'll have when making a decision.
One of the biggest benefits of sod is that it means an instant yard. The homeowner can literally go from no lawn to a completed and lush lawn overnight. Besides watering, there is very little maintenance involved with sod, once it’s laid. Because sod is nurtured and closely monitored in its growing stages on a sod farm, it’s already healthy and in good condition, which means that it’s free of defect and weeds.
While the instant gratification of sod is a wonderful benefit, it’s one that the homeowner will pay to have. Compared to seed, sod is very expensive and not a practical option for a lot of homeowners. In addition, laying sod, as opposed to seeding, also decreases the number of species you can choose from. Sod also runs some risk of not establishing itself as well as a seeded lawn, unless it is properly installed and regularly watered.
It’s important for homeowners to understand the value of having a professional do the groundwork. It’s also equally significant that the homeowner understands the importance of keeping up with the watering of the sod.
Grass seed is the cheaper option for homeowners looking to establish a new lawn. Opting for seed also gives homeowners more choice in the species they want to grow, because they’re literally starting from scratch. A lawn that grew from the seed stage in the same habitat is arguably hardier, as it may adapt to its conditions.
Of course, the biggest downside to seeding is that it takes time to establish the turf. Unlike the overnight success story of sod, it will be more than one growing season until homeowners see the full potential of their new lawn. There is also a bit more maintenance in the early stages, and there is greater potential for weeds to sprout up as the lawn grows.
There are a number of factors that might sway the final decision of sod vs. seed. In either case, for the landscape professional, the time of year, the climate, and the type of client you’re selling to should be taken into consideration before making a recommendation.
Time of year. Another plus in sod’s column is that it can be installed almost any time of year, as long as it is regularly watered. Seed, on the other hand, should ideally be put down in the fall, which is the best time to establish a new lawn. Though seeding can also be done in the spring and summer, the fall weather conditions (cooler air, warm soil) activate root growth and give the lawn its best chance.
Climate. Sod can be laid during any time of the growing season, which does provide a fairly big window of opportunity. However, since the roots are present at the soil’s surface, it’s risky to lay sod when the temperature is at or below freezing. Sod should be laid before the ground freezes in order to prevent those new roots from also freezing before they’ve been established in the ground. While some sources provide a similar timeline for grass seed (it can be planted any time during the growing season), since seedlings can be a bit more challenging to establish, it may be best to seed during optimum weather conditions. In most climate zones, this is considered to be the late summer and early fall.
Type of client. As you help steer your clients toward a decision, consider who they are as a client. If money is not an object and he or she is the type of person who would really appreciate an “overnight lawn,” then sod is likely the best choice. On the other hand, if your clients on a budget, particular about their grass, or would prefer to nurture a lawn from its infancy, then seeding is the way to go.
Lawn Site Prep
Regardless of whether you choose sod or seed, prepping your soil can make all the difference in the success, or failure of the lawn. As a result, you’ll want to explain to your customer the value of performing a soil test to learn about the characteristics of their soil and what you’ll potentially need to do to make it better. When clients are paying big money, particularly with sod, this type of information is incredibly valuable for you and the customer to have.
Some Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, both of these methods can give your customer a lush green lawn. The most notable difference is probably the time factor. Sod is already a mature turf whereas seedlings will take time to grow. As your client weighs the pros and cons, educate them on what they should expect so that there are no surprises.