Whether you are just thinking about repairing a few bad patches on your lawn or replacing the whole lawn due to it beginning to look a little grubby, worn out and past its best, then there are two options you have.
You can do either plant grass seed to grow back the lawn yourself OR lay brand new turf. Both of these options have their own pros and cons and the choice you make really depends on your budget and situation.
- Planting grass seed is much cheaper than using turf. You will have to put in more effort but it will save you a lot of money. You don’t have to pay the lawn turf producer for their time and effort to grow the turf making it a much more affordable choice.
- Choice of seeds. You have a much wider variety of grass seed to choose from compared to turf. You are also more likely to find the most suitable grass type for your circumstances and preference, that is likely to be available years to come should you need to patch up or extend the lawn at a later date. For example, you can choose between types like ornamental, if you have a decorative lawn, and ones that are more tolerant to shade OR draught like conditions. This type of grass seed will be tougher and stronger to combat difficult situations and recover more quickly.
- Ideal for small fixes or areas in your lawn. As grass seed can be easily spread, is light to carry and can be sown in a very short period of time, planting seed will take no effort compared to the work required when laying turf. With grass seed, you can always keep extra in your shed or garage for future repairs, this will not be possible with turf.
- Ideal for the keen gardener. Many home owners will want to see the instant results with turf, however keen gardeners will enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of growing their own lawn. They will then be able to sit back and appreciative their handy work.
- Clean process. Grass seed compared to laying turf, is a clean process that can be carried out at your convenience (turf has to be done soon after delivery regardless of the weather conditions).
- It takes a long time. As you need to grow the grass from scratch it will take a couple of months to establish and will need focused care and attention for at least the first 3-4 months.
- It is vulnerable. If you go through a period of heavy rain then the seed could easily wash away on the slopes resulting in bare patches and uneven coverage. Grass seed also is prone to be eaten by birds so extra time will be needed to implement some method of protection. Other animals will also need to be kept off the lawn whilst it is establishing.
- Needs more care. During the first month you will need to take much more care of your grass seeded lawn compared to turf as its root system is much more established. With grass seed you will need to wait for at least 6 months before you start using it normally.
- Weeds. Because the soil is open for the first month of growth it is likely that weeds are going to invade the lawn.
- Not all grass seed is equal. You do not want to spend time and money re-seeding your lawn to find out that the poor grass seed will leave you with a bad and patchy lawn. Ensure you purchase a good quality branded grass lawn seed, from a reputable manufacturer. This will cost a little more than the cheap grass seed, however in the long term this will be money well spent.
- Uneven sowing of grass seed. If you are sowing your grass seed by hand it will be difficult to achieve an even coverage. I would therefore recommend investing in a good lawn grass seed spreader to ensure a consistent and even coverage (don’t think this is a tool you will just use once to spread the lawn seed, the spreader can also be used for fertilisers, over-seeding and sand). If you would like to learn more about the best types of lawn spreaders, see my article – Best Lawn Spreaders.
- Watering. Regular watering will need to be done for the grass seed to establish, otherwise it will quickly wither and die.
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- Quick and instant results. After the turf has been laid on prepared soil, the edges cut to fit, you are pretty much able to use the lawn as normal within a month or so. Visually you have instant results, enhancing your garden, for you to enjoy.
- More tolerant to rain. If you have periods of heavy rain, then the turf won’t wash off slopes like grass seed would.
- Doesn’t need as much water. As there is no need for growth, you don’t need to water as much as you would with grass seed. However the turf will need to remain moist, otherwise it will shrink and gaps will start appearing between the layers.
- Effective remedy. If your lawn has sunken over the years, during the preparation stage, this is a good opportunity to level it with top-soil or compost. Any soil imperfections will be immediately covered by your new lash turf.
- Try before you buy. You can see and feel the type of turf before your purchase. There are many different types of turf, different colours and textures to suit your needs.
- Cost. Buying lawn turf can be very expensive especially when compared to grass seed.
- Limited choice. There isn’t as many types to choose from when laying turf compared to grass seed, so you might find it difficult to find something that suits you. Remember high street garden centres will only stock one type of turf, so you may be better of to purchase from a dedicated turf specialist.
- Labour. The turf must be laid as soon as delivered, it is much more difficult and labour intensive compared to grass seed. Also the rolls of turf are heavy and difficult to more around especially when your garden isn’t the easiest to reach.
- Transport. As already mentioned, turf is heavy and dirty. If you are going to collect it from a local store, you are going to need a van for transportation. If your lawn is tiny then you may get away with transporting the turf in an estate car, but just remember to take a sheet or blanket as the turf tends to crumble. You may decide to have it delivered to your house, which may add an additional cost.
- Limited shelf life. As mentioned above, turf has a limited shelf life as it can quickly dry out, especially in warm conditions. You will need to lay the turf shortly after delivery, regardless of the weather conditions. Little know how will also be needed to ensure the turf is laid correctly. In particular there should be no gaps left between the rolls of turf and they should be butted up to each other tightly (no overlapping). You should use boards or planks for walkways.
- Disposal of excess turf. You will always have to order more turf then you need, but just try to keep it to a minimum by measuring precisely before purchasing. Excess turf can be disposed of on your compost heap, but be careful not to put too much in your garden waste bin, as it may make it too heavy and the council may refuse to take it.
- Watering. Daily watering will be needed for the turf to get established.
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I hope that this article has given you enough information to decide whether or not you should use turf or seed in your garden.
I have been asked this question many times before and simply cannot recommend one option over the other, as it is dependant on your situation and circumstances. Some professionals would only go with grass seed and others with turf – for that instant result.
If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, please use the comment’s box below – I will be happy to respond.
If you have your amazing looking lawn and are now looking for a suitable lawn mower, you can click the link below that will take you to the best Cordless, Electric, Petrol and Robotic Mowers I have reviewed – easylawnmowing.co.uk