A green lawn is an attractive landscape feature, even if it is a modest 400-square-foot area. A lawn provides a place for children and pets to romp. In warmer climates, grass has a noticeable cooling effect and allows you to spend more time enjoying your yard in the summer. Growing grass from seed and laying sod are both relatively easy projects. You can achieve your desired end result--healthy turf--with either method.
The cost of purchasing sod rolls and having them delivered is higher than the cost of grass seed. But you have to factor in the value of your time. Growing grass from seed is more time-consuming. Spreading the seeds must be done carefully, and you must water the seed bed up to four times a day for the first three weeks and periodically check the seeds to make sure they are not drying out.
With either sod or grass, you need to prepare the soil correctly. Good drainage is essential. Compacted areas must be broken up with a shovel or garden fork. The soil should be vigorously turned, digging down at least 6 inches. Any rocks, tree roots or other interfering debris must be removed. Depending on your location, the soil may need added nutrients such as compost or fertilizer. The entire area must be leveled and raked until it is smooth.
Even the most well tended lawn grown from seed can have a patchy appearance. Seeds get washed out of position by rainfall or irrigation, and birds inevitably consume a portion of the seed. Sodded lawns may suffer from dead spots along sections that were not fitted together properly and dried out on the ends, or from laying strips on the perimeter that are too small and dry out.
Challenges to Grow
Sod must be kept moist after delivery. If it dries out, it can die. The sod rolls should be kept out of direct sun by covering them with a tarp or placing them in a shaded area. You need to lay the sod within a short time after delivery. The major challenge with grass seed is keeping the seed bed moist until germination is complete. If the seeds are dry, even for a brief period, it can kill them. People and pets have to be kept off of a seeded lawn until it has grown to at least 2 inches in height. Until then, the root systems are too fragile to be walked on without damaging them.
Growing a beautiful green lawn from seed provides some of the same satisfaction you get from growing flowers or vegetables. Having sod installed is not quite the same gardening experience, but seeing a healthy green lawn in what was once unused space is still exciting. There also is the thrill of having the sod installed in one day and being able to enjoy your new backyard that evening. Growing grass from seed requires more patience.