One of our Canadian friends is asking about a new lot home that has just been finished. It was an owner built with some contractors to provide help and now he is at the point where he needs a nice yard.
He has been asking around about the costs of putting in a sod lawn and we also wanted to talk with him about the options of Hydroseeding. His main concern is the cost of the project. He has been asking contractors and the cost will be about $8,000 to $10,000 and all they are offering is sod. He lives out in a remote area a suburban type commuter town and really wants to save some money so he looked at one of the big box suppliers of sod and they were quoting about $3000 for enough sod to cover his property. Obviously the rest of the preparation and labor is eating the cost of the project but what are the similarities and what benefits are of both of these methods.
Obviously Sod will give instant gratification for your project but normally contractors limit the installs to small properties because of the labor. You can also have failure rates of sod lawns because of many factors including the property owner not watering enough after it is installed.
Both types of installs require preparation of the soil. The lot must be graded for water drainage and then if it is absent of top soil some must be trucked in and distributed to about 3 inches deep around the area to be planted.
At this point if you were sodding a lot you would need to have pallets of sod delivered from a farm. Since this is the end of the season it is likely that the grass might be a bit burnt and contain some weeds. This is to be expected at the end of the season. Sod will be placed by hand by a number of workers that will try to stagger the joints as they go. Machetes can be used to cut the sod strips to fit around hardscape materials, pathways and driveways.
Once the sod is in place it should be rolled and watered and the watering will need to continue every day without fail for the entire yard until the roots have formed a good bond with the soil.
Hydroseeding requires the same lot preparation up to the point where you place down your topsoil. After that a company will come out with a large pump truck and hose to distribute its seed mixture over your topsoil. Most companies will also distribute straw over the hydroseed but many might not. In my opinion it is preferred to cover with straw.
At this point you will need to water your entire lot until the seed grows grass that is 3 inches tall. Less watering is normally necessary for hydroseeding vs Sod but they both need to be watered to begin growth.
At the point where you can cut your grass the third time then you can worry less about watering and just use normal care for your yard.
Benefits of Sod are that you can walk on it although it is not advised and it is instant grass.
Benefits of hydroseeding is that the only seed being planted is grass seed and that you start off with a good mixture that you can choose. It also has a better chance to have good root bond.
Costs of hydroseeding is normally under 20 cents per square foot. Sod Lawns depend on labor costs and can vary dramatically from contractor to contractor but normally cost much more than hydroseeding.
Neither of these methods are really good to do in the hottest times of the summer. Both will benefit from early spring installs as rain will help with the watering and normally rain water will grow grass much better than anything out of a hose.
If you really need immediate gratification then Sod is the way to go but if you are preparing a whole yard for a home you will be living in for many years Hydroseeding often results in better lawns.
Cost is always a factor but if you are reselling a home then Sod is your only option.
Home owners can do much of this work themselves and even rent hydroseed equipment but it would be better for a home owner to broadcast seed with a push spreader over topsoil and then cover with hay. Good results can happen from this method too.
I simply do not suggest an average home owner try to sod their entire lawn themselves. Unless you have 5 teenage boys who will work for free it is very labor intensive for the average person who is not doing this every day.