Starting a New Lawn: Sod Vs. Seed

Two strips of grass with seeds and yard tools in between.

There are few things that will improve the look of your home like a lush and healthy lawn. When getting the lawn of your dreams there are two options at your disposal: sod and seed. Picking the right option for your yard will depend on several factors, including budget, time, and the existing condition of the yard. Here is everything you need to know when choosing sod vs. seed.


Cost is one of the main factors when choosing between sod and seed. Seed is less expensive by a large margin; even the most expensive seed mixture is cheaper than sod. If budget is your main concern, then seed is definitely the way to go. Sod is more expensive than seed because someone else put in the time and effort to grow the grass, and you are simply paying for a finished product. If money is not an issue, then sod could be a better choice, depending on your situation.


A roll of sod.

Time is another consideration when installing a new lawn. Both seed and sod require preparation for a healthy lawn, but sod takes considerably less time to reach maturity. Sod typically comes in rolls or squares and is installed directly onto the surface of the yard. When using sod, you can instantly transform your dirt into a green paradise and can be mowing in as little as two weeks. The best times to lay down sod are spring and fall, as these seasons provide the roots optimal conditions to grow.

Grass seed growing in soil.

Growing a lawn from seed takes a lot more time than sod—sometimes as long as two years to completely fill. Installing the seed, however, is a lot cheaper and less-labor intensive. The seed is typically added on top of prepared soil using a spreader. The time it takes for the seeds to grow into a lush lawn depend on the soil conditions, climate, and time of year. Fall is the best time to seed because you do not have to deal with those pesky springtime weeds. Although seeding is easier than laying sod, it takes a lot of time and effort to keep it healthy as it matures.


The quality of lawn you get from seed versus sod depends on a variety of factors. Sod is usually grown in large, open fields that receive plenty of sunlight. If your lawn meets these requirements, then you will probably get great results with sod. Sod typically does not fare well, however, in shady conditions. Sod also is not guaranteed to come weed-free. Depending on the time of year, weeds can easily infiltrate your sod just like any other lawn.

Seed, on the other hand, can produce just as good if not better quality than sod. The downside is that weeds can infiltrate the lawn because it takes such a long time for the grass to fully mature. This often results in more maintenance with seed than sod, though there are other benefits to starting with seed. If your lawn features a lot of shady areas, you can find a seed mixture that thrives well in low-sunlight conditions. In fact, you can find a wider variety of seed mixtures than you can with sod, which enables you to find the perfect match for your lawn.


Sprinklers watering a newly planted sod lawn.

There are certain maintenance requirements for both sod and seed. You will need to water the sod daily for a couple of weeks to get the roots healthy. You also have to be careful about when you first mow the sod to avoid ripping it out with the mower. As a general rule of thumb, you should cut the sod around 45 days after the initial install.

Seeds require a lot more maintenance in the first month than sod. You should water the seed every day and slowly reduce the watering frequency over time. This helps prevent the grass from becoming stunted. You will also need to be diligent with weed removal as the seed matures into a lush lawn. Certain mixtures even require fertilizers for the first couple of months.