Why Sod or Seed?

Why Sod or Seed?

Sod versus Seed, it’s a common debate in the landscaping industry. Which is best?  Let’s break it down by comparing a few of the issues faced with each alternative.


Newly installed sod generally is much more weed resistant than an area where seeds are installed. There are a few reasons for that. The main reason for that is the fully established turf is denser leaving little room for weeds to grow. When an area is seeded it takes time to become fully established. During that time the area is susceptible to weeds.


Under optimal conditions, new sod can be mowed as early as 2-3 weeks after being installed. This initial period is called establishment. Once new roots are established, water can be reduced. Areas established with seed can take much longer. Seeded areas are also recommended to have an application of fertilizer applied to promote growth. It makes sense that it would take seed much longer to grow until a point of establishment since sod comes with a head start of 1” root depth in the thatch.


Both sod and seed require initial care. It is crucial that seedlings and new roots maintain good moisture levels. After about 2 weeks of establishment watering times can be reduced on sodded areas. Establishment times can vary on several factors such as soil type and watering. Establishment on sod can be determined by new root growth. However, on seeded areas it is recommend to water extra until seedlings reach a height of 2”. This could take 3-4 weeks under good conditions.


Initially the win on cost appears to be a victory for seeding. However, it’s not simply a comparison of seed vs sod. There are other costs to consider. When comparing the cost for seed, consideration of the costs for weed treatments and fertilizer applications should also be considered. Sod usually comes weed free and with some residual fertilizer laced in its thatch. Seed does not come with these hidden perks. It is also important to mention the possible costs of needing to seed twice. Sometimes areas do not become fully established after one seeding and a second or third seeding may be required.


The win definitely goes to the sod here.  There is nothing more satisfying than finishing off a landscape project with new sod.  It brings green to what was dirt the day before.  It can really make a project pop.  And even though the space may not yet be usable for a few weeks it makes the project look completed.

So when it comes to new turf what is your choice? Does it really cost more to sod or do the pros and cons balance out to be equal? I think it’s costlier than people realize to seed.  For me it makes much more since on a new install project to install sod.