When renovating or installing new turf, choosing whether to sod, seed or hydroseed is a case-by-case decision. Below, we break down a few considerations, but the most important one should always be what’s best for the lawn and the customer’s goals. “When we are speaking with new clients who are assessing each option, we carefully screen them as much as they are screening us,” says Monte Dobson, owner of Rapid Lawn Hydroseeding and Landscaping in Regina, SK. “We want the method of new lawn installation to fit with our customers needs, not only short term, but longer term as well.
1. Dollars and Cents
Prices vary greatly depending on size of the job and equipment and material prices and availability. Typically, sod is the most expensive option, costing customers between $0.45 per sq ft for material only and about $1.50 per sq ft for sod supplied and installed, due to high material and labor costs. The middle-ground option is hydroseed, and depending on the contents of the mix, it can run a customer about $0.12 – $0.20 per sq ft. Hydroseed combines conventional grass seeding with a moisture retaining layer of erosion control. Seed is typically cheapest, costing a customer from $0.05 to $0.10 per sq ft.
2. Specialized Equipment
Machinery is another major factor. Do you own or would you need to rent the equipment for the various installation methods?
If you’re laying sod by hand, transporting sod pallets requires a skid-steer or tractor, and lots of labour. Laying “big rolls” of sod mechanically is often the most efficient method, though it requires a “big roll” attachment on a tractor or skid-steer. “Big roll sod is the most efficient method of installing sod, but is only suited for large spaces such as sporting fields, parks and acreages,” says Dobson. Hydroseeding requires specialized and expensive equipment and is not a DIY-type of operation. Seeding requires the least equipment—as little as a spreader, although specialized equipment like a drill-seeder will provide better results.
3. Got Time?
We call sod “instant green” because it looks great the day it’s laid. Its fast-fix nature makes it perfect for customers with short timelines, or want instant gratification and less maintenance at the start and with money to spend. Seed can take four to five weeks before it begins to sprout. Hydroseed and seed typically takes “4-6 weeks to germinate and begin growing,” says Dobson. However, its quick, efficient application suits it for large-scale properties, like acreages and larger city lots. “Small city lots of 2000 sq ft or less are typically better suited for sod vs hydroseed or seed, simply because of the cost of operating the large hydroseed equipment for such a small space makes it not as economical vs larger areas,” says Dobson.
4. The Choice is Yours
Seed and hydroseed reign supreme in terms of options and availability. We can select specific seed types easily and affordably, and those options carry over to hydroseed, which also comes with a choice of fertilizer, tackifers and other components in the hydroseed mix. With sod, however, options are limited to a handful of local suppliers. “Sod never looks as good over time as the day it’s laid,” says Dobson. “Hydro(seeded) lawns require more maintenance at the start and looks terrible when you first put it down, but two or three years later, a seeded lawn is going to look wonderful and a sodded lawn is typically going to look pretty marginal.”
Soil and Water Vital to Success
Regardless of the installation method, soil quality, watering and maintenance determine the success of any new lawn. Prior to planting, it’s important start with the best quality soil available.
“Regina, SK contains very heavy clay soils, and while clay has high moisture and nutrient holding capacity, it can lack drainage and is prone to compaction issues,” says Dobson. Nutrient-rich loam based topsoil is vital because it retains water better, and moisture is the most important factor a successful new lawn, regardless if it’s sod, seed or hydroseed. Hydroseed, though it’s made not to dry out, should still be watered at least once a day. “The more frequently you water a newly hydroseeded lawn, the faster it will grow.” New sod should be watered two times a day for four to six weeks until it takes root. “The number one issue we see, regardless of seed, sod or hydroseeded lawn, is lack of watering,” says Dobson. “New lawns require soil, sun and water to grow lush and green.”
Interested in a no-cost consultation to see which method of new lawn would be best for you? Contact us today at www.rapidlawn.ca or call 306-993-7300.