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Sod versus Seed

Time of year to install Not recommended for winter or summer; possible in spring; best in fall for most areas Year-round installation, even on frozen ground if sod is available
Soil preparation Same for all types of lawn installation:  Deeply till soil, add necessary amendments and fertilizers, grad and level for smooth surface, remove all debris, lightly pack and moisten.
Water Requirements Highest water needs - bare soil will dry quickly. Moderate to high water needs.  Mulch will preserve some moisture. Lowest water needs - water at installation to a depth of 6-inches, then light waterings for next 2-3 weeks.  Grass will shade soil and prevent drying.
Water lightly for 3 to 4 weeks, keeping surface moist, begin to apply 1-inch of water per week after first mowing.
Seed Quality Extremely variable because of germination rates, weed and foreign matter content; unknown or unspecified varieties.  Generally lower quality seed than used in cultivated sod production. Typically highest available sod quality, certified, elite seed.  May be certified to prove specific variety.  Mixture and blends used to suit area needs.
Wee Control Multiple applications of chemicals usually required to combat competitive weed invasions until turf is well established. Minimal, if any chemical control required.
Uniformity of Coverage Seeding varieties, rates, germination times, wash-outs (erosion), traffic, feeding birds and rodents can create spottiness. 99 to 100% uniformity with use of mature turfgrass sod.
  Mulch layer may reduce some problems.
Runoff/Erosion Heavy rains or sloping areas will cause seed, chemicals and silt to wash onto sidewalks and into sewer systems. Capable of accepting heavy rains without erosion or damage.
Little, if any protection for several months Mulch should reduce erosion/runoff.
Visual Impact Rough texture and open soil colored mulches act to camouflage soil appearances. Immediate beauty of a "complete'' and mature landscape.
Useability Low traffic use 2 to 4 months after seeding with faster germinating seed.  Normal to high use only after first year. Low traffic immediately.  Normal, high traffic levels within 2 to 3 weeks.
Installation Cost Lowest cost. Low to mid-level cost. Highest cost.
Cost versus Value Higher management and maintenance costs, compounded by increased water and chemical applications, as well as delay of use, poor uniformity and visually unappealing are trade-offs for lower installation cost. Installation costs offset by added values of timing, useability uniformity and visual appeal.  Reduced maintenance, chemical and water costs.




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