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Extension > Garden > SULIS > Maintenance > Sustainable Lawn care Information Series > Establishing a New Lawn to Achieve Sustainability > Sodding vs. Seeding

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Seeding vs. Sodding

In the Upper Midwest, there are two primary means of establishing a new lawn: seeding or sodding. Either can result in a healthy, good quality lawn that will be sustainable once established. The most important difference between seeding and sodding is the time necessary for developing a mature and durable turf. Sodding is essentially transplanting a mature turf that has been cared for by a professional sod producer.

Seeding involves the application of seed either by hand or by some form of a mechanical seeder to a well prepared soil surface. The seed is then lightly incorporated into the soil surface and with proper post-seeding maintenance, begins to germinate and grow. The soil preparation should be similar whether seeding or sodding is to be done. Table 5.1 lists advantages and disadvantages of each establishment method.

Table 5.1. Seeding and Sodding Comparison



  • More grass species and varieties to choose from
  • Less expensive to install than sodding


  • Initial establishment time is longer
  • For best results, time of seeding is limited mainly to late summer and early fall
  • Moisture is critical for the young seedlings



  • Rapid establishment and relatively weed-free in the beginning
  • Good for slopes or areas prone to erosion
  • Can be laid any time during the growing season


  • Expensive and more labor intensive to install
  • Less selection or control over kinds of grasses, especially shade or drought tolerance
  • Not adapted for use in low-maintenance situations

Sometimes the best approach to lawn establishment is a combination of the two methods. This can help reduce costs and meet specific site needs with the use of the most appropriate method. The latter point is key to establishing a sustainable lawn as the best-adapted plants for the intended use of the lawn are established in the right place.

Proceed to Proper Soil Preparation.

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