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Extension > Garden > Lawns and turfgrass management > Establishment > Seeding and sodding home lawns

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Seeding and sodding home lawns

R. Mugaas and B. Pedersen


When establishing a new lawn, a common question asked is, "Should I seed or sod?" Both have advantages and disadvantages. There are three important decisions when considering establishment methods:

  1. Turfgrass selection
  2. Site preparation
  3. Care of the new lawn

Timing and site specific conditions may also influence the decision. For example, sodding will provide an immediate lawn if the site is susceptible to erosion. Once the lawn is established, it can provide many benefits such as cooling effects, erosion prevention, as well as noise and allergen reductions. 

The pros and cons

The most important difference between seeding and sodding is the time necessary for developing a mature or durable turf. The following outline lists some of the advantages and disadvantages of each establishment method.



  • More grass types and varieties to choose from
  • Less expensive than sodding
  • Stronger root system development initially
  • No layering of soil types


  • Initial establishment is longer
  • For best results, time of seeding is limited mainly to late summer and early fall
  • Moisture is critical for the young seedlings
  • It takes nearly a full season to achieve a mature and durable lawn



  • 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
  • "Instant" lawn


  • Less flexibility in choosing species; most sod in Minnesota will be Kentucky bluegrass
  • Expensive
  • Labor intensive to install
  • Potential layering of soil types which causes rooting issues

Seed options

In Minnesota, Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescues, turf-type tall fescue and some of the perennial ryegrass varieties are recommended. Your local seed distributor, garden center, or county extension educator can help you to determine the best varieties for your lawn.

Sod options

Most of the sod grown in Minnesota is a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass varieties. Occasionally, some perennial ryegrass, improved varieties of tall fescue or fine fescue are available in the mixture. A retailer or installer should know what varieties are in their sod; if not, they can get this information from the sod grower.

Soil preparation: seed and sod

Soil preparation should be the same for seeding or sodding.



Revised 2017

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