tofino gardening: to seed or sod?

To Seed or Sod?

by Sarah Sloman, Tofino


The warmth of summer is here (or was) and it may have left you with a yearning to lay, play or just sit on some grass. But, possibly you only have a gravel or a grown over bushy yard. now as your wheels are turning you may wonder to seed or to sod. Both seed and sod have perks and drawbacks but they have some very common requirements.

The first step to your new turf is evaluation of your growing medium; after you get your desired lawn area picked. your soil should be a minimum of two inches, uncompacted and the richer in nutrients the better. The soil should be graded and all lumps, rocks and sticks over two inches in diameter removed. Sand is no longer considered a desirable growing medium for grass due to problems with pH, leaching of nutrients, difficulty in proper fertiliser application, lack of water retention, and the increase in thatch build up it will cause later on.

Sod is great for an instant effect and with proper maintenance it can look great for years. Sod comes graded for the desired usage. Premium or standard types are recommended for lawns. Once the roots have established the mower can be rolled out for a spin. Sod often comes with a layer of thatch buildup, which will inhibit proper drainage and decrease air circulation increasing the risks of fungi. Sod is the most dramatic change to a landscape but unfortunately it is costly and heavy to lug around.

Seed is the tried and tested method of creating a lawn. Seed usually takes a month to be fully germinated and mowable. There are several types of grass seed—creeping bent (for putting greens), perennial rye (durable and drought tolerant), POA annua (annual will die in heat) and fine fescue (excellent shade grass, drought and traffic tolerant). Confused? I have had great success with the back yard mix at OCN. A mixture of seeds will have an increased resistance to pests and diseases. Although seed is very durable and lower maintenance you will have to exercise your patience while waiting for the luscious green.

All freshly seeded and soded areas require a good dose of high phosphorous fertiliser. New lawns will also require a good sprinkler. To ensure the roots develop properly the water should penetrate two inches deep. Whichever method you chose, lawn is a great way to start a garden as you will enjoy it for years or you can always delete chunks and turn them into gardens.

Sarah Sloman is a trained horticulturist and owns and operates Pacific Earthworks in Tofino.

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Tofino horticulturist Sarah Sloman explains the difference between seeding lawns and laying sod in Tofino Time magazine.

tofino time july 2004

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