Category: Spring

A New Lawn: Sod vs. Seed

As mentioned in this previous post, we moved in to a new house last fall, which means we get to install a new yard. And while I am very much a proponent of everyone including more trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, and even annuals in their gardens, I cannot deny that I am also a fan of grass. There’s just something about walking barefoot on the cool grass in the summer.

There are a lot of reasons to reduce the amount of grass in your yard: it can be terribly water inefficient, it requires a lot of maintenance, you can’t eat it or make a bouquet out of it, etc. But, there are some reasons to still include at least some grass in your plans: it doesn’t have to be water inefficient or require a lot of maintenance, and while you still can’t eat it or make a bouquet out of it, you can play tag or Frisbee or red-rover or football or (insert favorite activity here) on it and it will withstand the traffic and stress much better than, say, a bed of pansies. And it will be a lot more comfortable than doing said activities on gravel or amongst the roses.

So, while I’m not advocating endless expanses of emerald green turf, I do believe there is a place for at least some lawn in the home garden. If you’re building a garden from scratch, like we are, your next question then is probably something like this, “Ok, so we want a lawn. Should we plant seed or sod?”

Here are some points to consider:

  • I don’t know if this is true for every sod farm, but where I live the sod options are limited to Kentucky Bluegrass and …Kentucky Bluegrass. If you are looking for a custom blend or a particular species of turf grass, then seed would be the route to take.
  • If you are on a tight budget, seeding is a good option since you’re paying just for the seed and perhaps the application of it. Though, if you’re going to do it yourself, you may also need some specialized equipment to make sure the seed is evenly applied across the area.
  • Sod, on the other hand, while more expensive per square foot of grass, needs no specialized equipment for installation once the initial soil prep is done – which is is the same for both seed and sod.
  • One of the hardest things about successful establishment of a lawn through seed is that those seeds need water to germinate. And if they dry out before those roots are established there’s no going back. This is why hydroseeding is so popular. The grass seed is applied with a protective mulch that will help keep the seed from drying out too quickly. Water will still need to be applied at regular intervals those first few weeks, however, for successful establishment. And while those little grass seeds are getting regular water to help them grow along, so are any weed seeds that were in your soil. Competing against weeds to get a foothold is probably the other biggest hurdle your grass seeds will have to cross.
  • Sod, on the other hand, is basically a weave of mature plants that have been cut from where they were once growing and you will transplanting in a new location. It will still need regular watering to get those roots to take hold in your yard, but the water isn’t going to evaporate away as quickly as it would from a bare surface and the sod will be much more competitive against any newly emerging weed seedlings.
  • Another important factor for where I live is that sod is also not going to blow away. We get some strong canyon winds every morning and evening and I’m concerned that the seed wouldn’t have much of a fighting chance against the wind and the weeds.

I also really like the idea that with sod I’m getting an “instant” lawn. I know I’ll have to be a little patient and not walk on it for a few days, but the waiting period will be much shorter than if I was planting seed. And with an active toddler, keeping her off the germinating grass seed just sounds more exhausting than necessary.

The following two photos show the difference between starting a lawn from seed and starting a lawn from sod. Both seed and sod were applied last fall. The seeded lawn is patchy and fighting a lot of weeds. The sodded lawn, while still coming out of winter dormancy, is looking lush and full.

a photo of a lawn started from seed

A lawn in my neighborhood seeded last fall.

a picture of a sod lawn

A lawn in my neighborhood started from sod last fall.

Which have you done? Seed or sod? Would you do it again?

Garden Tour: Tulip Festival at Ashton Gardens

This is the first in what I hope is a continuing series of Garden Tours: virtual tours of the gardens I visit, both public and private. If you know of a garden you think I should visit, let me know in the comments below.

Tulips often evoke images of the dikes and windmills of Holland; generally not the semi-arid Utah desert or the rugged Turkish or Persian steppe. Yet every year in mid- to late-April, these three places – Utah, Turkey, and Holland – become intertwined in the annual tradition of Tulip Festival.

Continue reading

#EarthDay Special: evolution from bud to blossom

apple bud

apple buds expanding

apple bud petals 1

apple bud petals 2

open apple blossom

apple blossoms

Happiness is…gardening

Earlier this year I had the crazy thought that I wouldn’t plant a garden this year. I’ve got a new baby, I’m still working part-time, we’ll be moving into a new house this summer so by the time we get in it might be too late to get a garden in, etc. Basically I almost had myself convinced that planting and maintaining a garden would just be too much work.

And then I realized that I just couldn’t not plant a garden. And I also realized that the way I’ve been doing a lot of my gardening the last few years – aka in buckets – really cancels out all of my previous concerns:

  • They are portable! I can plant them now, here at my apartment, and then whenever we happen to move, I can easily take them with me.
  • They are easy to maintain – besides daily watering and an occasional feeding with fertilizer, they don’t need too much fussing. (Read: no weeding here!)
  • I can plant my lettuce and spinach and onions now, and if I don’t get to planting a tomato (because I must have garden-fresh tomatoes in the summer) until we move, it will still have enough time to mature.

So, in the spirit of National Gardening Month, I planted up my bucket garden – at least a couple buckets worth of it – last week and I am oh, so happy I did.

Gardening really is good for the soul. (Well, my soul, at least.)


Is gardening a happiness boost for you?

It’s Spring Again!

With yesterday being the first official day of spring, a lot of people’s thoughts turn to gardening. Maybe you’ve still got snow where you live, but you’re itching to see something green. Or maybe it has felt like spring for a couple weeks now, but you’re wondering when it will be safe to start planting. To help answer some of your questions, or satisfy your need for green, I’ve rounded up some of my “getting ready to garden” posts:

Hardiness Zones

When Can I Plant?

Bucket Gardening 101 and Bucket Gardening Video

The Dirt on Soil

Starting Seeds Indoors (1)

Starting Seeds Indoors (2)

Hardening Off Plants


I’m interested to know what the gardening timeline looks like in your neck of the woods. Is it at your doorstep? Or still only a distant dream?

Either way, when the time comes, Happy Gardening!