Sod vs Hydroseed – Differences, Cost & How to Choose

Should you sod or hydroseed? If you’ve just recently bought a new residential or commercial property, you’re probably wondering whether to go with sodding or hydroseeding.

Sodding is the fastest yet expensive way of establishing a lawn while hydroseeding is slow yet cheaper. When compared to grass seeding, sodding is a much faster lawn establishment process of the two, but hydroseeding as a third option has unique advantages such as preventing soil erosion in the yard and producing a high-quality turf.

Below, I’ve done detailed descriptions guide on the differences between these lawn establishment methods- including cost differences and what you should consider when choosing between them.

Sod vs Hydroseed – Differences

While both are effective ways of establishing a lawn from scratch, there exist multiple differences between sod and hydroseed, the first being their physical form. Here’s a quick comparison between sodding and hydroseeding.

Sod vs hydroseed cost and differences
Sod vs hydroseed: cost and other differences
SoddingHydroseeding
Is a solid mass of soil and fully-grown grassIs a liquid mixture containing seeds, mulch, water, and fertilizer
Machinery required: skid-steerMachinery required: retrofitted truck
Instant fully-grown lawn, ready for use immediately afterYou’ll have to wait for about five weeks for the lawn to be ready for use.
Minimal maintenance requirementsRequires detailed maintenance from as soon as the seeds are planted
Can be completely DIYYou must hire a contractor at the initial seed planting stage
Offers no room for cross-breeding experimentation with different turfgrass varietiesOne can blend several different seed species for a unique lawn

Composition

Sod is a solid mass of soil and fully-grown grass, while hydroseed is a liquid mixture containing seeds, mulch, water, and fertilizer.

Sod is usually installed after the grass has already germinated, and it takes a few weeks to take root on the landscape it is installed.

Hydroseeding, on the other hand, is generally installed on prepared lawn soil where the seed in the mixture will germinate. A popular product to DIY is Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn Seed.

Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn - Bermuda Grass Seed - Made in USA -...
5,711 Reviews
Hydro Mousse Liquid Lawn - Bermuda Grass Seed - Made in USA -...
  • Hydro Mousse is easy to apply and provides the perfect solution for homeowners with patchy lawns that need repair. Fix dry spots, dog spots, high traffic areas and shade
  • Attaches to any garden hose and eliminates guesswork by clearly showing you where you are planting
  • Each kit is enough to cover up to 500sqft for overseeding or 165sqft for new lawn and will include the spray head, the coating chamber (canister), the grass seed blend that is suitable for all climates and the Hydro Mousse liquid formula foam

Below are some pictures of an area treated with a product called Grotrax, which is a form of hydroseed in a roll out mat that you can use for spot treating or even full yard plantings.

Grotrax Biodegradable Grass Seed Mat | Quick Fix Roll | All in...
6,172 Reviews
Grotrax Biodegradable Grass Seed Mat | Quick Fix Roll | All in...
  • ALL IN ONE GROWING SOLUTION: Grotrax ‘All-in-One’ Grass Seed fabric contains Seed, Fertilizer and Mulch in one easy to use ‘roll out’ growing system. "Every Seed Perfectly Placed" at over 100% of its recommended planting rate. Each Grotrax Bermuda Rye Grass Seed roll contains the latest in grass growing technology, inclusive of high-quality seed from leading Oregon growers.
  • SIMPLY ROLL, WATER, AND WATCH IT GROW: Every Grotrax roll contains seed, fertilizer, and mulch to create an All-in-One grass growing solution. Our Bermuda Rye Big Roll growing system stays green, even in extreme conditions or scorching sun.
  • BIODEGRADABLE GRASS SEED MAT: Once rolled out and watered, our specialized grass roll sticks to the ground. Each seed is surrounded by fertilizer and held in place between two bio fabric layers, Grotrax Micro Pellet Fertilizer produces fast germination and uniform growth. The biodegradable fabric prevents seeds from washing away making it cheaper, easier to apply, and lighter than expensive traditional sod.

IMG 1287 scaled e1594214510421

This is what it looks like on not well-prepared area and that has dogs that have access to it. The area that you apply Grotrax to should be tilled, smooth, and have a mix-in of topsoil. The area below will come in spotty.

IMG 1292

Planting process

The other difference is that sodding requires a different set of tools to hydroseeding. When manually laying sod pallets on your lawn, you’ll need a skid steer to move the sod pallets as you work your way around the bare lawn. After you lay the sod you’ll want to roll the lawn using a lawn roller such as the Brinly Lawn Roller or these roller alternatives.

lawn roller over fresh planted sod

Hydroseeding, on the other hand,  requires you to spray on the product using a garden hose or roll out the product depending on what you purchased. For full lots, or larger projects I would recommend you to hire a professional hydroseeding company.

liquid hydroseeding

How long it takes

The third difference is the time it takes to have a fully-grown lawn with lush greenery. With sodding, you’ll have an instantly beautiful lawn that’s ready for use as soon as the installation is done. Hydroseeding- on the other hand- could take between four-five weeks for the seeds to germinate.

Labor requirement

Lawn establishment via hydroseeding is more labor-intensive compared to sodding. With sodding, all you have to do is lay the sod, followed by the scheduled watering and mowing of the fully-grown grass.

Lawn establishment via hydroseeding, on the other hand, requires detailed care from the moment you plant the seeds. Before the grass even matures and is ready for the initial mowing, you shall have already put in lots of effort on providing the right conditions for seed germination and plant growth.

DIY vs professional installation

Another difference is that sodding can be entirely DIY, while hydroseeding has to be done by a contractor who has the necessary machinery for the same- that is- a retrofitted truck.

hydroseeding truck

Timing and mixing seed varieties

Next, sod lawns can be established at any time of the year, though the preferable window is late spring to late summer while hydroseeding should be done anytime between March and October.

The final difference is that sodding doesn’t accord homeowners as much experimental room as hydroseeding. This is because sod pallets can only be of a specific turfgrass species.

The most common commercially sold sod species include Bermuda sod, Fescue sod, and Kentucky bluegrass sod. Hydroseed species- on the other hand- can be mixed for a unique and visually intriguing blend of grass color.

Cost: Sod vs hydroseed vs seeding

Lawn establishment via sod pallets is the most expensive option of the three, as hydroseeding costs about 70% less. An acre of sod pallets, for instance, may cost up to $10,000 while hydroseeding can cost anywhere between $2500-dollars – $5,000; with the extra costs going towards hiring a licensed hydroseed contractor.

The lower cost of hydroseed takes into account that the buyer/homeowner has to do the early plant life maintenance themselves whereas sod pallets are sold fully grown.

Traditional seeding is the cheapest option, as most turf grass seeds can be bought commercially for less than $1000 lawns established using this method normally take the longest to be fully established (8-10 weeks).

Choosing Which Method to Use

The appropriate lawn establishment method for you will depend on aspects of your personal preferences.

If you’re looking for fast results, then sodding is the way to go.

However, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s advisable to go for the cheaper hydroseeding.

Moving on, if you’re a busy individual with little time to take care of your lawn, sodding is logically the better option. On the other hand, if you’re a gardening and landscaping enthusiast that enjoys the sense of satisfaction that comes with establishing your own beautiful lawn from scratch, then hydroseeding will give you the chance to experience that kind of journey to success.

Just to recap, while sodding and hydroseeding may each have their pros and cons they’re both effective methods of lawn establishment. Your choice between the two should depend on a variety of factors including your budget limit and willingness to undertake the necessary lawn care.

Check out more lawn care tips and best lawn products.

4 thoughts on “Sod vs Hydroseed – Differences, Cost & How to Choose”

  1. It’s great to hear that hydroseeding costs 70% less than sod. I want to install a new lawn in my backyard, but since it is sloped, I also want some form of erosion control. Hydroseeding seems like the perfect choice for these two tasks, especially considering how affordable it is.

    Reply
  2. Good morning, we lost our irrigation system 2 years ago due to construction but we haven’t replaced it yet (due to more construction coming) our lawn died this year completely and now weeds are taking over, could we hydro seed over top of dead grass and get a good result?

    Reply
    • Hydroseed should give you a good result but expect to do a few applications to get a good thickness in the yard.

      Reply

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