When it comes to putting in a new lawn we frequently get asked if the best course of action is to sod, seed, or hydroseed? Our answer really depends on many factors involved in the conditions of the landscape we are dealing with as well as the budget considerations of the client.
Here are some pros and cons for each of these methods:
Grass Seed: Grass seed is the easiest and least expensive option for the do it yourselfers. You can plant anytime from April to September as long as you can get enough water. It is the slowest to green and takes several months before you can play on the grass. Seed is also vulnerable to birds and wind and this may cause you to have to reseed certain areas the next season. It’s recommended that you cover the seed with mulch or straw to protect the seeds from the elements.
Hydroseed: Hydroseed is more expensive than grass seed but still a cheaper option than sod. It usually requires a contractor to install, since there is special equipment involved in application. You can apply hydroseed from March to October and it needs a lot of water. It grows fairly quickly, greening up within 4-6 weeks. You can’t play on the grass for 3 months in order to prevent damaging the roots.
Sod: Sod is the highest priced option and can be done by a contractor or as a do it yourself project. The advantage of sod is that you can plant anytime and that you have instant grass. With sod you will still need lots of water, especially in the hotter months or you can get shrinkage. There are some care considerations at first but minimal wait time to play on. One downside to sod is the limited varieties of grass available.
No matter which choice you make, lawn site preparation is the same and extremely important to the success of your new grass. If your replacing an existing lawn, you must kill it off first. The ground will need to be tilled and amended, for example you will need to add organic matter such as compost, manure and quality topsoil to improve the clay soil. The organic matter is also important in helping new grass roots absorb the nutrients in the soil. It’s also recommended that you test the ph balance in the soil in the planning process so that adjustments can be made.
The goal is to have at least 4-6 inches of well-prepared soil, which includes starter fertilizers which are higher in phosphorous than a typical balanced fertilizer (although a different ratio may be required depending on soil tests). Once the soil is ready it is graded to allow for drainage away from buildings and to provide a nice smooth surface for the grass. Taking shortcuts in this process can lead to problems down the road with your new lawn.
Once your new sod, seed, or hydroseed is installed there are critical care instructions to follow, especially regarding watering. Not following through on this post-installation care could result in less than desirable results.
If you are considering replacing an existing lawn or putting in a lawn for a new construction, give us a call, 208-884-8986. One of our team members can meet with you and discuss the best options for your landscape needs.
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