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To Seed or to Sod?

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Everyone loves gorgeous green grass, and looking out over the soil of your yard and envisioning a lovely lawn atop the expanse of dirt can be pretty darn exciting. Just how are you going to get that lawn, though?

After you've leveled your yard and tested and prepped your soil, you've reached decision time: sod or seed? Making the right choice comes down to a few simple considerations.

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  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
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Tip #1 - Know your price.
Grass seed is the undisputed winner when it comes to cost. Sod is simply grass seed that someone else has gone to the trouble of tending through its early growth for you, and you're paying for the sod farm's labor.

So be sure you know just how much you're willing to spend. Eating saltines and peanut butter for a month will definitely dampen your enjoyment of your new grass and the quick and easy sod method.

Tip #2 - Know your terrain.
If your yard has especially shady spots, you might be better off seeding those areas, since most sod is made up of sun-thirsty grass varieties. If you seed, you'll be able to pick a variety that won't die under your elm or in that odd corner.

If you have steep slopes or any especially erosion-prone spots, seeds may wash away before they have a chance to take hold. Putting in grass by laying sod in those areas can solve that headache.

Tip #3 - Know your time-tolerance.
Do you want a lawn this afternoon? Or can you wait a couple of weeks? Sometimes the decision to spring for grass via sod comes down to just how quickly you want your dirt transformed into a lawn.

Another factor: if you've missed prime seeding time (late spring or early fall) growing grass from seed may not be an option, but you can lay sod during almost any part of the growing season.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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