Seeding vs. Sodding

Fri Aug 14 2015 | off-topic | sod

Living in a dry area is a gardener's worst nightmare. You long for a green landscape, but your yard looks dead, dirty, and brown. Fortunately, you can still achieve a lush, beautiful lawn with help from seed or sod.

If you order sod, you can transplant already-grown turf directly to your lawn. If you buy a bag of seed, you are responsible for planting and caring for the grass.

So which option should you choose? Here are some factors to consider:


There's no question that sod is more expensive than seed. You're paying not just for the grass, but for someone else to grow it for you.

For example, at California Sod Center, you can purchase sod for either $0.39 or $0.85 per square foot. For a 5000 sq. ft. lawn, you'd pay around $2000. On the other hand, you can purchase a five pound bag of seed for just $17.

In either case, you'll need to buy fertilizer and topsoil as well. But if your main goal is to save money, choose seed.

Time Commitment

Whether you're planting seed or sod, you'll need to prepare your soil so it promotes good growth. In both cases, you should rake the soil and add some topsoil or compost. But aside from this common preparation, planting seed and planting sod are very different.

You might think sod's cost is worth it when you consider how little time it takes. In just a day, you can roll out your sod and turn your dirt lawn into a thriving grassy area. The sod should take root in your lawn in just two weeks. All you need to do to keep your new lawn vibrant is to regularly water and fertilize it.

If you choose to plant seed, you need to exercise patience. The planting process will take time as you till the soil, apply fertilizer, and spread the seed.

Then, you'll wait for the seed to grow. Growth time depends on the type of grass. For example, fescue grass grows fairly quickly-it takes just a couple of weeks to germinate, and about four weeks to grow tall enough to mow.

As with sod, you'll need to water and fertilize your grass. You may need to reseed in areas where the seed doesn't grow well.

If saving time is your goal, sod will give you an instant lawn.

Planting Flexibility

The best time to plant seeds is early fall. Grass seeds may not grow well at other times of the year.

You can plant sod during any time of the year, although spring and fall will let your sod root more quickly.

If it's seed's off-season and you don't want to wait for your new grass, choose sod.


Working with seed exposes you to dirt, dust, and mud for several weeks, while sod gives you a clean lawn right away.

And when it comes to weeds, you're more likely to see them in seeded lawns-at least until the lawn is fully grown. But sod isn't always free of weeds, either.


When you plant seed, you can choose from a wide variety of grass types, each with certain qualities. For example, you could choose seed that works best for your type of soil, or seed that grows successfully in shady areas. You could even choose seed that's more resistant to disease.

When you pick sod, you have the choice of only certain grass types. You may prefer a specific grass type that's not available in sod form. In that case, choose seed.


Initially, sod is stronger than seed because it's already gone through the growth process. It might take a while to get your seed to grow. Rain can wash your seeds away, making it necessary for you to replant. And seed may not grow well in certain areas of your lawn, such as sloped surfaces-sod can thrive in these areas.

But over time, seed may become stronger than sod. Remember, you can choose a seed that grows well in your area (you have limited choices with sod). Certain types of seed grow well in shade, whereas sod often struggles in shady areas.

Plus, unlike sod, you don't transplant seed from one environment to another. Thus, it may develop a stronger root system than sod would.

Which Should You Choose?

On the one hand, seed is more versatile and may end up stronger than sod. And it's by far the cheaper option.

On the other hand, sod is easier to plant and provides instant gratification. You're more likely to get a successful lawn quickly, while seeding might prove unsuccessful at first.

Either seed or sod can give you a gorgeous, healthy lawn-even if you live in the desert. Choose the one that best fits your needs and get started creating a vibrant lawn.