Summer’s passed... and your lawn is looking a little rough. There’s bare patches, deary spots or overrun weeds— and your turf is in need of a serious facelift before the cold weather hits.
Not overseeding or laying sod on weakened grass can mean bad things come spring after a harsh winter of damage to your turf. Fortunately, rejuvenating your grass now doesn’t have to be that hard. It just starts with a simple decision: to overseed or sod?
In this article, we’re going to help you decide which is best for your landscape to keep your turf strong and vibrant— and fresh for spring.
What is Overseeding?
Overseeding is the process of laying new seeds down to regrow grass. It’s usually coupled with a service called aeration, in which tiny holes are punctured into your turf to loosen compaction and create safe spaces for the seeds to burrow and germinate.
What is Sod?
Sod comes in rolls or sheets as grass rooted in a layer of dirt. It is laid overtop of prepared bare soil surface like a carpet and roots into the ground with the help of compost. Just like with overseeding, you need to aerate, scarify or full on till the soil prior to laying sod so that your soil is loosened enough for the sod sections to take root.
When to Overseed vs. Sod
Not sure if you should be laying down fresh seeds or a few sheets of sod? Here are a few reasons why we choose to do one over the other:
If you are trying to thicken up your already healthy lawn to get a robust, full look— overseed in the fall. This is something we typically recommend if your lawn is in relatively good shape, but simply needs to fill in some gaps; whether that means thickening across the board or filling a few bare patches.
Because you are starting from seed, it can take 2-3 weeks for germination, and another two months for your blades to fully establish. But once established, these new blades can really prosper and promise a stunning green lawn!
One limitation of overseeding is definitely the amount of time it takes to grow, while another is the temporary restriction from your lawn. For the seeds to root and begin to lengthen, these areas shouldn’t have foot traffic for up to 60 days, else you’d trample and kill the young seedlings.
Another thing to consider is that seed is hard to establish when laying down mid-summer because the sun’s heat easily burns and dries up the seedlings. Fresh seedlings don't have a deep root system to rely on, plus weeds are still growing and can steal nutrients from your new growth crowding them out.
There’s also a short span of time to overseed: from the last week of August through the first week in October. After that, it becomes too cold in Massachusetts for your new grass to germinate and grow before the frost sweeps in.
Key takeaway: Only overseed if you can plant fresh seedlings early in the fall, to give them time to establish and develop before wintertime.
Here are a few reasons to sod instead of overseed:
- If you’d like thick, vibrant grass come spring but overseeding would be difficult due to any of the circumstances above
- If you have large, open areas in need of new grass
- If you’re looking for instant gratification or fresh green right away
- If you recently did construction or need fresh front or backyard turf
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons homeowners across Massachusetts opt to sod over overseeding is because sod can be installed any time of the season. You don't need to wait until the fall seeding season to have the green landscape you desire.
As long as the ground isn't frozen, sod can be laid from November through December and stabilize in your soil before winter hits. Here at Swazy & Alexander, we’ve installed sod as late as December 21 and didn't lose a single roll over the winter! It's dormant during this time, so it just lays there until spring when it “wakes back up.”
Another benefit to sodding is that you don’t have to worry about weeds growing in the sod while it gets established. When growing grass from seed in the spring, this is a problem. Plus, sod is so thick and healthy, new weeds don’t stand a chance against your strong new blades.
Making the Most of Overseeding or Sodding
Did you decide that overseeding is the best way to go since your lawn only has a few thinning patches?
Fall overseeding is best paired with weed control prior to seeding to ensure your grass comes up without dandelions and crabgrass. If it’s springtime when you’re reading this, instead of overseeding now, fertilize your grass then and wait until autumn to lay new seeds.
If you decide that your lawn needs an overhaul and opt to sod, be sure to fertilize before laying it down— no matter the time of the year. These nutrients aid in the uptake of your sod’s roots and improve its pH, which allows the grass to root deeper into the soil. If sodding mid-summer, your turf will require a lot of water to prevent sunburn, so be mindful to follow these hydration tips.
Get a Greener, More Attractive Landscape
Ready for a lush lawn? Check out these seven turf care tips to foster a greener landscape. More specifically, also read through these six fall lawn care tips to keep your turf flourishing this autumn.
After you get a handle on your turf, read this handy guide: The Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal. It outlines some surefire ways to increase your property and home value and cultivate a stunning property.