Hydro-seed vs. Sod

Hydro-seed and sod are both effective methods of installing a new lawn, or repairing an existing lawn, however, there are some differences to consider when making your decision.

 

What is Hydro-seed?

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Hydro-seed is a mixture of grass seed, fertilizer, paper mulch and water. This mixture is typically sprayed onto 4” of prepped topsoil soil, planting the grass seed. Hydro-seed is a product that will take some time to nurture and grow into a lush green lawn. This is a very affordable option, although it does take time and effort to aid the growth and can take several years to grow in thick and full as desired. The care of the new hydro-seed must begin immediately if your new lawn is to be successful. Hydro-seed is applied late May – August and again in October. Read more below on caring for your new hydro-seed.

 

What is Sod?

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Sod is established grass that has been growing in ideal conditions, fertilized and watered regularly for 3 years before cutting for sale. Sod is cut into strips and rolled, then laid onto prepped soil to allow the grass to re-root. This method, although more expensive than hydro-seed, will give you almost immediate results taking less time and effort from you to care for. Sod is installed late May – August. Read more below on caring for your new sod.

 

Caring for Hydro-seed

There are many variables when deciding how to care for your newly planted seed such as the time of year the seed was planted, sun and shade exposure, weather, and the amount of water and nutrients in the soil. These guidelines should be adapted to meet the needs of your property. For beautiful thick growth and healthy bladed grass, proper care must be given. If the following instructions are carefully followed, there is no reason why you too can’t have a beautiful, healthy, and attractive lawn.

 

Watering

  • After the landscape work is complete and the grass seed is planted, the next several weeks are critical in promoting growth of the grass seed.
  • It is very important to keep the seed moist. This usually means watering 2-3 times per day. On warmer days it may require more water. Be careful not to overwater or allow water to collect in areas. Make sure the hose and sprinkler fittings do not leak as this could allow the seed to wash away or become displaced. Water the area evenly and do not allow the seed bed to dry out.
  • Keeping the seed bed uniformly moist constantly for the first 3-4 weeks will allow the germination process to begin. Seeds will remain dormant or inactive until conditions are right for germination. Depending on weather and the time of year, this process could take up to 6 weeks before you will see the seedlings sprouting through the surface of the topsoil. If hydro-seeding is done in October, the seed will remain dormant until spring as ground temperatures are too low to allow germination to begin.
  • Keep people and pets OFF OF THE NEW GRASS for as long as possible, especially during the first 6 weeks. When walking on the grass to adjust and move sprinklers, a new path should be taken each time to avoid one area from getting compacted too much as this could result in the seed failing to germinate.
  • After the seed has germinated, sprouted up through the topsoil, and has been cut 2-3 times, watering can be reduced (about once every couple days depending on weather) to allow for the roots to stretch down into the soil in search of water. This will encourage deep rooted turf for maximum results and ruggedness.

 

Mowing

  • The new grass should be cut when it reaches 3” or more in height.
  • No more than 1/3 of the blade length should be removed in a single cutting to prevent “shocking” the new grass. Grass in Alaska does best when cut to a height of about 3”.
  • Care should be taken not to make ruts in the soil with the wheels of the mower while pushing and turning. Do not mow after heavy rainfall or watering.
  • Always use sharp blades when cutting grass to ensure that no damage is done.

 

Fertilizing

It is important to provide your lawn with constant nourishment. Fertilizer was included in the mixture sprayed onto the soil, however, after several weeks the new lawn has used up all of the nutrients. There are many ways to fertilize; however, this method has given us the best results after hydro-seeding occurs:

  • Once grass has grown and has been cut at least once, more fertilizer can be applied. If the shades of green in the grass vary from light to dark, this is a sign that the grass needs nutrients. Again, the Arctic Gro 16-16-16 is a balanced fertilizer to use in Alaska. Apply as directed on the package.

 

BE CAUTIOUS! Fertilization can burn and destroy your new lawn; so apply it evenly and preferably with a broadcast type spreader.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As difficult as it may seem, try to stay off of the turf areas in the winter months. Walking on the snow can create an ice layer which can kill the grass. Under certain snow conditions, simply walking on the lawn can leave footprint-sized dead spots in the spring. Try to avoid piling snow on lawn areas; during spring melt-off lingering snow can create conditions ideal for the growth of snow mold leaving damaged or dead spots in the turf. Be sure to rake your lawn well with a stiff tined rake as soon as the snow melts in the spring.

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Care for it, nurture it! The next several weeks are critical to getting your new lawn off to a great start. As you view your beautiful lawn, you will know that your money and efforts have not been wasted. ENJOY!

 

Caring for Sod

When it comes to caring for sod, there is much less work involved to establish your new lawn. After the soil is prepped and the sod is laid, the watering can begin.

 

Watering

  • The sod that was just laid has already been established for 3 years and is thirsty! In the first two weeks, it will need quite a bit of water to aid in re-rooting into the soil. The sod should be kept moist at all times. If you allow the sod to dry out it can shrink, turn brown and potentially die. During the first couple of weeks while the sod is taking root, you will want to keep people and pets off of the lawn. Stepping on the damp sod at this point can leave depressions from your footsteps.
  • After about two weeks and after the grass has been cut at least once, the watering can be reduced to every 2-3 days, or as needed, not to be overly dry. Spot watering can be done if you find areas of your lawn are drying out more quickly than others. This “stress period” will allow the roots to grow down into the soil in search of water. This will encourage deep rooted turf for maximum results and ruggedness.

 

Mowing

  • After your grass has reached a height of at least 3-4” you can mow your new sod.
  • Allow the sod to dry out just enough to mow and not leave depressions when walking on it. Use caution not to damage or pull up any of the sod. If it does move around a bit, don’t worry, put it back and it will grow in.
  • No more than 1/3 of the blade length should be removed in a single cutting to prevent “shocking” the new grass. Grass in Alaska does best when cut to a height of about 3”.
  • Always use sharp blades when cutting grass to ensure that no damage is done.

 

Fertilizing

It is important to provide your lawn with constant nourishment.

  • Once grass has grown and has been cut at least once, fertilizer can be applied. If the shades of green in the grass vary from light to dark, this is a sign that the grass needs nutrients. Arctic Gro 16-16-16 is a balanced fertilizer to use in Alaska. Apply as directed on the package.

 

BE CAUTIOUS! Fertilization can burn and destroy your new lawn; so apply it evenly and preferably with a broadcast type spreader.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As difficult as it may seem, try to stay off of the turf areas in the winter months. Walking on the snow can create an ice layer which can kill the grass. Under certain snow conditions, simply walking on the lawn can leave footprint-sized dead spots in the spring. Try to avoid piling snow on lawn areas; during spring melt-off lingering snow can create conditions ideal for the growth of snow mold leaving damaged or dead spots in the turf. Be sure to rake your lawn well with a stiff tined rake as soon as the snow melts in the spring.

 

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