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Hydroseed or Sod? Which is right for you?

Do you have a new home that needs a lawn? When deciding whether to seed or sod, it is important to know the facts and the maintenance required for establishment.

Before you apply hydroseed or lay sod, it is important that your yard has been final graded. The builder will typically take care of the rough grade before you close on your house. The final grade consists of making sure the dirt in the yard is up to the proper elevation, determined by the City, and smoothing out any large clumps of dirt. The final grade will ensure there is proper drainage away from the house and that water is properly routed to the correct drain inlet or curb.

Some homeowners decide to install an irrigation system to help their new lawn become established. An irrigation system will automatically water the lawn at the set times programmed by the homeowner. A new lawn will require multiple watering times per day, which can be difficult for some homeowners without an irrigation system. Once your lawn is established, an irrigation system will also help to keep your lawn healthy and green throughout the hot summer months. An irrigation system is an added expense, but it will increase the value of your home.

Sod vs. Seeding


What is Hydroseeding?

Hydroseeding, also called Hydraulic Mulch Seeding, is a mixture of seed and wood mulch with a bonded tack fiber. The mixture is sprayed on a freshly graded yard. The mulch will harden, acting as a blanket to protect the seed. The mulch also acts as a form of erosion control. As the seed is watered, it will start to germinate and grow. The mulch is made of organic matter and it will decompose as the lawn establishes itself. Many contractors will add a starter fertilizer to the hydroseed mixture, however, it is important to continually fertilize as the lawn comes in.

Cost – Hydroseeding is generally less expensive than sodding, however, there is more maintenance required on the homeowner’s part for establishment.

Water – A newly seeded yard needs to be watered frequently. It is best to keep the seed consistently damp. The seed, during the germination process, should not be allowed to dry out. You do not want to over water the seed, there should be no standing water.

The Wait– The wait time for a seeded lawn is longer than that of a sodded yard. You will have to wait for the seed to germinate and grow. You should see “green” areas within a couple weeks of the hydroseed application, but your yard will not be “sod-like” for about a year. It is important to remember that certain areas of your yard will germinate quicker than others, due to amounts of water and sunlight, but eventually the “thinner” spots will catch up.

Seed Blend – Hydroseeding contains a seed mix of Kentucky Blue Grass, Fescue and Rye.

Weeds – As the seed germinates and grows, it isn’t uncommon for weed seeds to germinate and grow as well. You shouldn’t apply any weed killer right away, because the grass is too juvenile. A good rule of thumb to follow: after you have mowed the grass at least three times, you can “spot treat” any weeds with a broadleaf herbicide. DO NOT apply RoundUp.

Mowing – As your newly seeded yard grows, you can mow. For the first couple mows, set your mower’s blade height to the highest setting. Be sure to let the yard dry up slightly, so you do not make a mess.


What is sod?

Sod is grass, that has already been established. It is cut from the ground, usually with about an inch of dirt in the roots. It is usually delivered in rolls, which is than laid out on the ground, similar to carpet.

Cost – Sod is generally more expensive than hydroseeding. Sod has been growing for a couple years before it is cut and sold in rolls. Unlike seed, which is sold as a dormant product, sod is live material and it has a VERY short shelf life. It should be laid within a couple days of being cut.

Water - A newly sodded yard will require more water than a seeded yard. A sodded yard should be watered heavy for the first couple weeks. After a couple weeks you can tone the watering back a bit, but it should still be watered daily. You cannot over water a newly sodded yard. Within 3-4 weeks, your sod should be fully rooted into the ground. Once the sod is rooted, you are ready to fully use your new lawn. While watering heavily, it is important to stay off the lawn. Walking on it will not damage the sod but can create ruts or divots in the lawn because the ground is soft from watering.

The Wait – After the sod has fully rooted down, about 3-4 weeks, you can fully use your new lawn.

Seed Blend – Sod is 100% Kentucky Blue Grass.

Mowing – You should not mow your lawn before it is fully rooted down. Once the sod has rooted and the ground is no longer saturated with water, you can mow. Be sure to set your mower’s blade length to the highest setting for the first couple mow times.

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