Turf Wars: Hydroseed vs. Sod
Small urban yards may need little ongoing maintenance, but growing new grass can be a challenge. If you are starting from scratch, you have two main options; laying sod or hydroseeding. Which is right for you?
The process of growing healthy grass in Philadelphia sometimes feels like waging an uphill battle against the elements. Nothing less than a perfect combination of seed, soil, patience, and tremendous quantities of water is required to achieve the glory of a lush, green lawn.
Hydroseeding and sodding are two different methods that can be used to improve your overall chances of success in this endeavor. Hydroseed is a liquid mixture blown through a sprayer over a large area. The liquid, referred to as slurry, is composed of grass seed, mulch, and other fertilizers. In the Philadelphia area, hydroseeding is typically limited to commercial properties or new construction, but if you have an entire yard to seed, you may want to look into this alternative to broadcast seeding.
Sod is simply fully grown grass attached to a bottom layer of soil. There are numerous sod farms in and around the Philadelphia area. Some farms will sell directly to consumers and allow you to pick up pallets or smaller pieces yourself, which saves the cost of delivery. If you are pricing sod at a local big box store, such as Home Depot, ask when they expect to receive a local delivery and try to buy that day because sod should be transplanted as quickly as possible.
When debating whether to lay down sod or hydroseeding, there are a number of factors to consider.
Sodding is more expensive and more labor intensive than hydroseeding. The type of sod and seed used will affect the results, no matter what method you choose, so avoid cutting costs in quality.
The greatest advantage of sod is the instant, golf course quality lawn, whereas hydroseeding can take up to one month to look presentable, depending on temperature and local rainfall.
Keep in mind that early appearances are not always indicative of the long-term results for either sodding and hydroseeding. Hydroseed may need a second or even third application, as some of the seed may not take the first time. Sod may look close to perfect when installed, but requires continuous watering until firmly established, otherwise it may burn out and need to be replaced.
If you have no prior experience working with sod, you may want to engage a professional landscaping company to avoid incorrect placement that will result in visible lines between pieces of sod (similar to carpet seams).
Time of Year
In the Philadelphia area, the best time to sod or hydroseed is the fall. Laying new grass at other times of the year has a higher failure rate.
The quality of your existing soil is also a factor to consider. You may want to mix mushroom soil with topsoil before you sod or seed.
Caring for a young lawn is hard work and can be a factor in a new home versus existing home buying decision. If you run into difficulties getting your grass to grow, don’t be afraid to try a different method. Based on the slope of your yard, soil composition and the amount of sun versus shade, it may take several attempts before you come up with the best solution.