Are you looking to lay a new lawn? You are likely faced with the choice of grass seed vs turf. This is an exciting project and you want to do everything you can to get your lawn off to a great start.
Both grass seed and turf are good options but the ultimate choice will depend on your needs. We’ve written this article, comparing grass seed to turf, to help you make the right decision as you put up your lawn.
What Is Grass Seed?
As the name suggests, grass seeds are the seeds that are sowed to grow into grass. Unlike turf, which arrives at your premise as already germinated grass, you first have to sow grass seed in your garden for a lawn to gradually emerge.
There are pros and cons to using seed to start your lawn. Let’s take a look at these.
Advantages of using grass seed
Here are the primary advantages of using grass seed to set up your lawn.
Grass seed is considerably more pocket-friendly compared to turf. If you are setting up a large lawn on a budget, you should consider sowing grass seed. Seed is also a perfect choice for overseeding and reseeding to repair an old lawn. In addition to this, only minimal labour is required to plant grass seed.
There are many types of grass seeds to choose from and sometimes this can be disadvantageous, especially if you do not know how to select the right seeds for your unique lawn needs. On the upside, with so many seed options you can build the garden you have always wanted whether it is for hanging out with the family or for ornamental purposes.
Grass seed is resistant to difficult conditions such as shade and heavy soil. Turf will not do well when installed in a shady area but seed will flourish as long as the ground is properly prepared. The seeds themselves are not only easy to store but they also have a long shelf life so you can use the same bag of seeds several times.
Some of the challenges you will face with grass seed are:
Takes longer to establish
After sowing grass seeds, you will have to wait several months for the roots to establish and the grass to sprout. This is unlike turf, which gives you an instant lawn. Seeds can also be high maintenance and might require more tending to after the first month.
Prone to loss
Seeds are at the mercy of birds, heavy rain, and wind. If you do not protect your ground against these elements, you will easily experience a heavy loss and your lawn will take longer to come together.
Defined period for sowing
Grass seed needs to be sowed at very specific times. If you sow at the wrong time, the seed might fail or the resulting grass might be vulnerable to weeds and disease. For example, warm-season grass seeds need to be planted in late spring to summer for maximum growth and development.
What is Turf?
Also known as sod, turf is carpet-like organic rolls of pre-grown grass and a layer of soil held together by grass roots or a special type of gardening net.
Some farmers specifically grow turf for sale. When a buyer is available, the carpet-like grass is harvested, rolled and transported to be installed in a garden or field.
Once the ground is prepared, a process that involves cultivating, tilling and fertilizing, the rolls of grass and soil are rolled out to cover the entire target area. The sod is then watered immediately and regularly after that initial installation. Turf will generally take up to six weeks before the roots establish and the lawn is ready for use.
The main advantages of turf are:
The fastest method of setting up a lawn
Since the grass is already grown elsewhere, all you have to do is lay the rolls of harvested turf on your bare ground and you will have an instant lawn. You will not use the new lawn for up to six weeks but this is a small sacrifice compared to the 6 to 12 months you would have to wait for grass seed to mature.
A big challenge that comes up when creating a lawn is achieving an even appearance. Sowing an even lawn takes years of experience and requires a real pro. This is something you do not have to worry about with turf. A professional has already sown the seed so you are sure of an even, attractive lawn from the first day.
Flexibility in installation
Unlike grass seeds that need to be sown at certain times of the year, you can lay turf all year round including during winter without affecting the quality of the resulting lawn. Turf will also not attract weeds and will not be blown away by wind or washed away during heavy rains.
Turf has a few downsides. These include:
Turf is comparably costlier than grass seeds. It is best suited to smaller lawns while grass seeds will be more cost-effective when setting up a larger lawn. Also, a significant labour cost comes with laying turf.
While there is a wide array of grass seeds to choose from when it comes to sod, you are limited to the varieties the sod farmers opt to cultivate. You would have to look around for farmers who can provide you with turf that meets your unique requirements.
Turf has a short life span. You need to lay it on prepared ground as soon as it is harvested or else the turf will dry out and will no longer be of any use.
Which One Should You Choose: Grass Seed Or Turf?
When it comes to grass seed vs turf, it is not easy to say which one of the two is better for your lawn. As we have seen, they both have their own pros and cons and the one you opt for is really a matter of personal preference.
Here are some important factors to keep in mind when deciding whether to go with grass seed or turf for your lawn:
Your budget is a major determining factor when choosing between seed or turf. You have to consider the cost of buying the material (seed and turf) and hiring a professional to get the job done. Generally, if you are on a tight budget, seed offers a more pocket-friendly option.
This is a question of whether you want an instant lawn or you are willing to wait a bit for a fully-fledged lawn. Turf will take at most a month to establish its roots after which you can start using your garden.
Seed on the other hand requires several months to sprout and you might have to wait up to a year to have a decent lawn but if done well, the results make the long wait worth it.
How much time and effort are you looking to put into your lawn? If you are keen on setting up a low-maintenance lawn, turf might be the way to go.
Buying turf might initially be costly but after the first week or so of installation, the lawn will require less and less care and maintenance. Turf is also less susceptible to weed problems.
If you enjoy spending time tending to your lawn, building a lawn from grass seed might be the best option for.
Tips For Choosing The Right Grass
The success of your lawn largely depends on the type of grass you install or plant. Buying top-quality seed or turf that is suited to your region is always a worthwhile investment.
- Perform a soil test: Test the pH of your soil before planting any grass on it. Grass generally requires slightly acidic soil between pH 6.0 and 7.0. You could have good seed or turf but if you plant it on poor soil, you will have a less than appealing lawn.
- Consider your climate: Choose accordingly between warm-season and cold-season grass. The weather in the UK can be quite varied so you want to think carefully about how the different weather conditions will determine the kind of grass you plant.
- Use: Consider how you will use your lawn. Hardwearing grass such as ryegrass is a good option for a busy family lawn.
When setting up a lawn, you will have to choose between grass seed vs turf. As you can see, one option is not better than the other; your choice will depend on your unique needs and lawn goals.
All in all, to get your lawn off to a great start, it is important to choose the right type of turf or to select the best seeds for your particular climate and soil condition.
Have you tried setting up a lawn? Did you use garden see or turf? Let us know in the comments below and we’d be happy to hear from you.