Starting a New Lawn: Grass Seed, Hydroseeding, and Sod

Discover your options for growing new turf in your lawn

It’s time to start fresh - with your lawn! There are many ways to grow new turf or boost existing grass, but which is right for your lawn? We’ve got the details on grass seed, hydroseeding, and installing sod to help you figure out how to get the gorgeous, green lawn you desire.

Applying Grass Seed

The first option is to apply grass seed to your lawn. Grass seed comes in a wide variety of grass types. You can even mix grasses to help cover different areas in your yard, like full sun or shady spots. There are also 2-in-1 grass seed and fertilizer products that use added nutrients to help your grass grow healthy and strong in its initial stages.

All you need to apply grass seed is a spreader. Grass seed is great for any size lawn, and can also fill in bare patches or overseed lawns for thicker turf. Overall, grass seed is the most versatile and accessible option for most lawn projects.


Hydroseeding is a technique where you create a slurry and apply it to your lawn using a high-pressure hose or sprayer to apply grass seed. A slurry is a semiliquid mixture, in this case containing grass seed, mulch, fertilizer, and water. The mix, combined with high-pressure application, forms a protective layer over the soil to facilitate seed germination and provide essential nutrients for growth.

Hydroseeding is best for large lawns, and particularly great for sloped and difficult-to-access areas. This method also encourages a uniform distribution of grass seed. Hydroseeding requires specialized equipment, along with a little know-how to get an even application.

Installing Sod

Sod comprises grass, its roots, and a thin soil layer. The advantage of sod is an immediate green lawn. While seeding can often have irregularities in coverage, sod creates a uniform look. The mature grass also acts as a natural barrier against weeds in the initial stages of growth.

For best results, you’ll want to install sod quickly after purchase or delivery. Sod rolls can be challenging to transport and handle, and leaving them on pallets for extended periods may result in dead grass or a longer recovery time post-installation.

Determining What’s Best for Your Lawn

Still not sure which is the best option for your yard? Read our analysis below to help you determine what your lawn needs:

  • Cost - The winner here is grass seed. Grass seed does not require specialized equipment like hydroseeding, and the square footage cost of sod adds up quickly. Spreading grass seed is a job most DIY-ers can tackle, whereas it may be best to hire pros to lay sod or hydroseed your lawn.
  • Germination Time - Germination time means how long it takes for grass to grow. Sod is ready-to-go grass, making it the obvious choice if you want a green lawn right away. When using grass seed or hydroseeding, you won’t see seedlings for at least 7 days, though it could be as long as 3 or 4 weeks. Any method can take up to a couple of months to establish, but this process is typically faster with sod than with seeding.
  • Grass Type Options - Grass seed is versatile not only because it offers a wide variety of grass types, but you can mix grasses to get coverage for your whole lawn. Sod offers the fewest options, and you won’t be able to mix-and-match without disrupting the uniform look.
  • Creating a New Lawn - Hydroseeding or installing sod are great options if you’re scrapping a lawn entirely. Grass seed is still an option, though you may need to overseed after establishment to achieve best results. When starting a new lawn, it’s best to completely remove any existing grass from the area. Hydroseeding and sod require completely bare soil to grow and establish. Removing existing grass may also be necessary for regular seed depending on the grass types of your current lawn and your seed, as well as the condition of your lawn.
  • Overseeding - If you just want to cover bare or thinned-out spots in your lawn, grass seed is the way to go. Hydroseeding and sod both require completely bare areas to make full contact with the soil for best results. Overseeding existing grass with grass seed will help thicken the turf and cover any smaller patches that need attention.
  • Application Difficulty - While spreading grass seed isn’t difficult, it does require time and effort. Handling grass rolls requires some hard work, but does give you that immediate green lawn. Mixing your slurry for hydroseeding can also be labor intensive, and you’ll want to make sure you understand the process and how to use your equipment.

Tips for a Healthy Lawn

Regardless of which method you choose, all grass requires watering, mowing, and feeding. Do your research - whether that means thoroughly reading product labels or asking a pro - to determine the best way to keep your new lawn green and healthy.

Newly planted grass typically needs to be watered twice daily to keep the soil moist until the seedlings reach 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches high, or for the first couple of weeks after installing new sod. Once the lawn is established and you’ve mowed at least once, you can begin watering less frequently. Water deep into the soil when watering less frequently to encourage deep root growth for your grass.

Start mowing your grass at the right time to thicken the turf, which also helps crowd out weeds. Newly laid sod typically can be mowed after a couple of weeks, but when applying grass seed or hydroseeding, wait until seedlings are at least 4 inches tall before mowing (this can vary by grass type, so remember to check your product label). Never mow more than 1/3 the total height of your grass in a single mowing.

Feeding your grass with lawn food or fertilizer helps grass grow stronger and prevents pests, weeds, and diseases. When using any fertilizer or lawn food, be sure to read the label carefully and check for restrictions regarding use with new grass or seedlings. Your grass seed label may also have instructions for when you can start feeding your lawn.

Stop dreaming about a lush, green lawn. Now that you know your options, go out and make it happen!