#15- Should I over-seed, hydro-seed, or sod?

Which is the best method to start a new lawn or to fill in bare spots in my lawn? Which method will cost less? In this episode we discuss the different methods of growing grass, the costs and which will be best for you.


Hey, hey what is up everyone? This is Ete with another episode of Eco Lawn Science here in Heber City, Utah. Today's show, we're going to be talking about repairing dead spots, bad spots, bare spots in your lawn, whatever you want to call them. And the most cost effective way to do it and the quickest way to do it. And there's not a one size fits all for this. It really is gonna depend on the situation, the problem that you have. But this is a question that we get all the time with our clients. You know, "Hey I got this dead spot from my dog" or "our sprinklers were off this summer and we lost a big chunk of grass," or "a fungus or insect took over a little area and how do I repair it? What do you recommend?" So I kind of wanted to jump into that today just cause it's, it comes up so often that I thought it'd be valuable to other people who may have the same question.

Today, we wanted to compare the three main ways that people grow or get grass in their lawn, either establishing a new lawn, or filling in bare spots. And those ways are seed, hydroseeding, and sod. And what I want to do is I want to jump into a little bit of the, talk a little about the costs, the time length, and just overall picture. What's the best for the scenario that I have.

So let's look at the cost. So with seeding, overseeding, that's the process of when you can go to the store and you can buy the seeds. So you want to get a local seed that's going to fit your area. So if you're in...here we're in Utah, you're not going to put a St. Augustine or Bermudagrass lawn in cause those are more a warm season. They're down South. So you're going to look at a Kentucky Bluegrass or some type of fescue lawn. And so you want to make sure you get the right seed for your area. Generally you can buy seed at,–in Utah you can get them at different places: in Ace, IFA, Tractor Supply. But it's a big deal: you want to get the right type of seed in the rights, the right variety of seeds, because inside of a bluegrass there are tons of different types of bluegrasses and different types of fescue.

So once you understand what you already have or what you're trying to put down, you, all you basically do is you get the seed, you put it in a spreader, and you apply it over the area. Now there's a little more to it. There's some prep work. You know, you want to get rid of rocks, you want to get the soil moist, you want to make sure it's fertilized, balanced, do a soil sample. And then once you put the seed down, if it's really bare, you're going to want to cover it with some type of covering a quarter inch of peat moss or compost or a light covering to protect the seed from animals, from just from getting washed away. And so there's a little bit of work there, but economically that's your cheapest route. Generally to put down a seed, it's going to cost you 5 to 8 cents per square foot. That is for you just to get it and put the seed down. Now obviously there are companies who will do it and they have some extra tools and tricks and they're good at what they do, but that's overseeding and you're going to put the, put all the seed, you're gonna get a 50 pound bag. Sometimes it could be 200 bucks for a pound bag. Sometimes it could be 100, just depends on what the seed is and where you're located.

You're going to put it in your spreader and you're going to spread it evenly across the lawn. And like I said, there's more pre and post work, but we're mostly to comparing seeding. With the seed it takes time and it's a lot of babying to get that to come up. You have to have your irrigation in perfectly. So it might go off 5, 6 times a day for just 3 or 4 minutes. The idea is you want to keep that seed moist for 3 weeks at least. Depending on the type of seed, it could be longer, it could be shorter, but you don't want to over-water it, you know. I mean there's so many, there's so much baby and involved with a new seed, but once you get it up and once it begins to germinate, then you can really look at fertilizing it and then after a certain period of time, getting some weed treatments on it.

And so it can be, it is the cheapest at 5 to 8 cents per square foot. But it takes the most amount of time and there's a lot of variables, a lot of moving pieces, and it has a lot of error involved. They could be misapplied, it could not be followed up correctly. You could have bad weather. I mean, there's so many things that could go wrong. So generally when people seed, let's say it's in the fall, they're going to do it again in the spring and you're going to seed for a couple– twice a year for a couple seasons in a row. But again, 5 to 8 cents per foot. So if you're looking at costs and you're not afraid to do things yourself, you're going to want to overseed.

The next thing is the hydroseeding. Hydroseeding is when you hire, generally you're gonna hire a company because of the equipment is– most homeowners do not have the equipment. Where the overseeding you could use any type of broadcast spreader that you can find at any, any store. Hydroseeders, it's a huge tank. They have all kinds. There's 200 gallon tanks. There's 20,000 gallon tanks, you know, they're just all different sizes. They put the seed in, they put in a fertilizer. They put in– usually it comes out blue. They put some hay in or some type of cover, a tack. They mix it all in this big tank and they have these huge, wide hoses and they shoot it down over. If it's a bare spot, they pull this big truck up and they'll hop out and they'll, this big arm will come out and the hose, kind of like a concrete truck, and they will just spray this down and it'll look bluish or green. It'll have a dye in it so you know what areas were covered.

And then the nice thing about that is it's all mixed in. You've got everything mixed in your coverings, fertilizer, some amendments, and so it's a really nice like, and you can see where you applied it. It's just a really nice process. As far as pricing, because you have to subcontract it out, it could be anywhere from, you know, 26 cents is the lowest, which I've never seen here. But online I found that some people were charging that to 20 to 30 to even 40 cents a foot. So versus 5 to 8 cents a foot. You know, this is a lot higher. In my experience–it depends on where you are–but I have seen phenomenal results in Utah with hydroseeding. Now I know back East and down South places where you can get good rain, overseeding can work awesome. Here it's just, there's so many variables.

So the hydroseeding removes some more of those variables and I love it. The downside is if you have a spot in the way back of your lawn, sometimes they don't have hoses to get that far and they have to charge you more. Like it's the equipment's very expensive and it's big and bulky and so your costs can go up. So if it's in the front yard or if it's within their reach of their hose, I love hydroseeding, but if it's far back and out of reach, the charges jump up significantly and it's, I have to think a little more about it if it's the right fit for me.

Then the third thing is the sod. Sod is awesome because it's instant. You put the sod down and your lawn is in. The downside is it is the most expensive. We're coming in at somewhere, 1-2 foot. That's for the product for the sod and to have it installed cause there's a big labor side on sod, the biggest, so there's a lot of costs, but some places you can get it for a buck 50 - 2 bucks per foot installed and it's like carpet. Once it's in, it's done, you can go play on it. Now there are some, you have some strict guidelines as far as when, when not to fertilize, what to use, how much water to put down, et cetera. But it's going to be instant. It's going to be the most durable, the quickest. But it is by far the most expensive.

Some things to consider when you're making your choice, what is right for me is again, where is the area you're taking care of? Because as I've said, if it's far away, if it's going to incur more costs, you know, on the huge back of a 2 acre property, hydroseeding may not be the way to go. Maybe it's overseeding. If you have a lot of pets, you know, you've got to keep the pets off for weeks and the kids so that the seed is germinating without being trampled on. So if you've got a lot of pets and things, sod could be a better option because it comes on right away. You know, you can walk on it, you know, within a few days and you don't have to baby it as much as, as the seed. If you have a good lawn and there's just a few weak areas, seed could be the best way because it can be the most cost effective, easy to apply. And it's really not going to take up too much resource because you have a thick lawn that's going to protect the seed. You're just filling it out. So I love seed for overseeding lawns that are already in pretty decent shape, but you've got to consider the terrain.

You know, if you've got slopes or areas with too much sun or shade, it may be very hard to get seed germinated and it may not be, you may not have the time and the energy to stay there with it every day for 3 weeks to grow it. So you may look at, look at the sod and you know, and then of course there's the water. If you don't have proper irrigation, if you can't dial it in correctly, don't even bother with seed cause it's not going to grow. That is here in Utah. Other places that are more wet, you're going to have better options there.

So overall, all 3 are great tools. Sometimes it's a combination of all 3. Sometimes, like I said, if it's a great looking lawn or a medium lawn and you've got some bare spots, I overseed it. Just thicken it out. If it's a good lawn with huge bare spots or just obviously noticeable bare spots that aren't too far from the street, I'll call the guys, they'll hydroseed it, I keep it wet. It's good. And if you're talking big sections or, or if you have a nice like perfect turf and a big dead spot that's way back somewhere, I may just find out the sod that was in there already, match it, and have a company come apply sod.

There's really no wrong or right answer. It's just you have to look at your situation. Look at the difficulties, the terrain, the weather, the irrigation, and make the best decision and, of course, your budget and make the best decision. I will say this, sometimes people look at the cost of it, you know, they look at the sod, 1 to 2 bucks per square foot. And they look at the seed 5 to 8 cents and they go, this is a no brainer. I'm going to seed. But then it takes them 5 or 6 years of constantly seeding, watering for, you know, all this babying. And all that time goes by. They still don't have the lawn that they want. And I say, okay, what if you had just gone with the sod, paid the money up front and have enjoyed this lawn the whole time? So there's so many ways to look at it. Depending on where you are, it could be one way could be better than the other. But that's the 3 main–sod, seed, hydroseed–in a nutshell. And that's all I got for you today.

Hope you guys have a great day.

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