Once the site is prepared (SEE MARCH 3, 2005 GREEN BLOG) and the proper grasses have been chosen, it's time to plant the lawn. Deciding whether to seed or sod involves a number of factors, as outlined below. Assuming planting is done properly, the end result of a healthy lawn should be the same whether establishing via seeding or sodding.

Comparing Seeding and Sodding Home Lawns

Advantages of Seeding
• Large choice of species and cultivars to use
• Less expensive
• Lawn develops on site

Disdvantages of Seeding
• Longer period to wait for useable lawn
• Greater chance of weed invasions & erosion
• Relatively short favorable time for establishment
• May need to reseed

Advantages of Sodding
• 'Instant' lawn
• Fewer weed invasions
• Longer favorable time for establishment
• Less erosion problems

Disdvantages of Sodding
• Expensive
• Less choice in species and varieties
• Potential soil incompatibility problems
• Rooting speed varies

Timing is critical to assure success when seeding lawns. Early September is the ideal time for seeding lawns in the St. Louis area. April would be a second choice. Seeding in late spring through mid-summer often leads to problems. Suggested seeding rates are found below. Exceeding rates may result in weak, spindly seedlings and potential disease development. Newly seeded grasses must receive adequate moisture to assure germination and early seedling survival. Putting down a light straw mulch can help prevent rapid drying and helps keep the soil in place until the grass is established. Use about two bales per 1,000 square feet.

When sodding, purchase quality sod that has been freshly cut. Try to use sod that has been grown on a similar type of soil as exists on the site. Install promptly. Stagger edges in a similar pattern as laying bricks. Avoid stretching sod or gaps between pieces of sod.

New sod should be watered thoroughly after installation, and then frequently until the sod is established. Water should go down through the sod to moisten the soil underneath for good root development. Mow newly sodded lawns on a regular basis so that no more than one third of the grass height is removed in a single mowing. A height between two and three inches is suggested. Core aerify a sodded lawn after the sod has firmly rooted to the soil. Fertilize newly sodded lawns with a starter fertilizer to enhance root establishment.

Suggested Seeding Rates for Lawn Establishment

Turf Type Tall Fescue: 10-12 lbs per thousand sq. ft.
Bluegrass: 3-4 lbs per thousand sq. ft.

Suggested Overseeding Rates of Existing Lawns.

Turf Type Tall Fescue: 5-6 lbs per thousand sq. ft.
Bluegrass: 1-2 lbs per thousand sq. ft.