Should You Resod or Reseed Your Lawn?

If your lawn's looking a little less than lush, here's how to decide the best path back to a lush lawn.


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Your grass lawn may be looking a little patchy and sad after a long winter—which may have you thinking about potential ways to get it back into shape before summer party season is in full swing.

You have several options to bring your lawn back to its former emerald, grassy glory. You can reseed, resod—or go in a different direction entirely and opt for a more eco-friendly lawn alternative.

"Lawns coming out of winter into spring are usually in need of some repair and yes, may look a little scraggly," says Teri Valenzuela, natural science manager at Sunday. "While some lawns may just need a little time to recoup and ‘green up’ to grow out of winter damage—especially for issues like snow mold that can resolve on its own—most lawns will benefit from overseeding or propagating in spring."

So how do you decide if you can simply spring for a little grass seed to do some spring repairs to your lawn, or if a big lawn overhaul is in order? Here's what you should consider when you're deciding whether to reseed or resod your lawn–or make it over into a garden space.

How much damage does the lawn have?

For a few bare patches, reseeding your lawn will be the easiest path toward fixing it. "You’ll know if you need more drastic measures like resodding or a full lawn repair if you have areas of over 50 to 60 percent bare soil, extreme thinning or entirely weeds," Valenzuela says.

What's causing your lawn problems?

Before you start trying to replace a damaged lawn, you may need to address the underlying issue that's keeping the lawn from thriving. There could be several issues that lead to thinning grass, weeds, or bare patches, including compacted soil, disease, drought, and too much shade, Valenzuela says.

How soon do you want it restored to its lush lawn glory?

If you have a little patience and time, reseeding will get your lawn in good shape within weeks. But if you have a deadline (you're putting your house on the market within a few weeks, or you have a big backyard party on the calendar), resodding may be the way to go. Just keep in mind that you need to keep foot traffic down on either reseeded landscapes or new sod, so you'll need some lead time before that barbecue. (Generally, you'll need to give at least two weeks before you walk on new sod—though many lawn experts recommend keeping foot traffic light until a full month after installation.)

Is this the right spot for grass?

Grass may not be the best option for your entire lawn area—especially if it's a super-shady spot, or if you live in an area where droughts are happening regularly. In that case, it may be better to come up with a new garden plan for your land. "Converting lawn space to edible gardens, ground cover, native plantings, or other ornamental landscape is a great way to make better use of your outdoor space," Valenzuela says. Keep in mind that that will require a bit of work, as you remove all the turf and weeds and add back high quality soil for your plantings.

If drought is an issue, there are drought-resistant lawn alternatives like ornamental grasses, wild flowers, or other native plants. You still may be faced with an increased need for watering for the first few years while the new garden is established, Valenzuela says.

What's your budget?

If money's tight, reseeding will be a more cost-effective option, as you can likely get everything you need for the average-sized lawn for around $100. Grass sod costs between $0.35 and $0.85 per square foot for the sod itself, plus $1 to $2 per square foot for professional installation, according to Angi, leading to prices between $1,000 and $3,000 for the project.

If your lawn's in bad shape and your budget's tight, consider a hybrid approach. "Opt for sodding in the areas where you absolutely need new or replacement grass," Valenzuela says. "Focus on the parts of your lawn that have the most value to you and your family. Then, use the 50 to 60 percent bare soil, thinning grass, or full of weeds rule to replace only the most problematic spots in the lawn areas you value most."

How much work do you want to put into your lawn?

Most people hire the pros for resodding, but that doesn't mean you're off scot-free, as you'll need to commit to twice-a-day watering for the first few months after installation to help it establish roots.

Reseeding your lawn is pretty easy, but your new grass will need some TLC to survive and thrive. "The best way to ensure seeding success is to apply seed at the right time for the region," Valenzuela says. "To ensure you apply it at the correct rate, use a seed spreader to uniformly apply. Then water correctly to keep soil moist, not saturated." You'll need to water once or twice a day while the grass is getting established. Once 60 percent or more of seeds have germinated, you can opt for a less frequent (but longer) watering schedule.

If you live in cooler areas of the country, you'll need to wait until temperatures are over 50 degrees F in the spring or the fall, while in the southernmost parts, you can apply warm-weather grasses when the temperatures are consistently over 70 to give your grass seed the best chance of thriving.

Valenzuela also advises against using methods like putting down chicken wire, hay, or netting to keep birds from eating your grass seed. "Netting or screening lawns can potentially harm wildlife and surrounding ecosystem function, and we don’t think hay is a necessary tactic."

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