Turfgrass Lawn Guide: Establishing a Lawn


Vegetative stock includes one of three options: Turfgrass Sod which is available in both warm and cool season turfgrasses, and Plugs, or Sprigs and Stolons, most often associated with warm-season turfgrasses. 


Seeding and/or Hydroseeding is a process in which you apply selected turfgrass seed to a prepared soil, allowing it to grow in place to maturity. Most cool-season turfgrasses and select varieties of warm season grasses can be established by seed.


Small cylindrical or block shaped pieces of grass extracted from a field of turf or cut from strips of turfgrass sod.

Turfgrass Sod

A process through which rolls or slabs of turfgrass are placed on prepared soil and capable of rooting within one to two weeks creating an "instant" lawn. 

Sprigs / Stolons

Individual plants or sections of plants containing several nodes from which new plants may grow.

Making The Right Decision

A properly established and maintained lawn is not only a life-time investment, adding to the value of your property, it also offers a wide variety of environmental, community and economic benefits including:

  • Soil Erosion control
  • Storm Water Runoff Reduction
  • Ground Water Recharge
  • Heat Dissipation
  • Noise Abatement
  • Disease Prevention
  • Organic Pollutant Decomposition
  • Soil Restoration
  • Wild Life Habitat
  • Dust Suppression/Capture
  • Glare Reduction
  • Air Pollution Control
  • Oxygen Production
  • Carbon Retention & Storage
  • Cooling Effect
  • Fire Barrier
  • Reduced Pest and Allergy-related Problems
  • Crime Control
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Recreation & Social Harmony
  • Human Productivity
  • Community Pride
  • Improved Property Value

Making the wrong decisions when trying to establish your lawn will cost you time, energy, money and natural resources.

Making the right decisions when establishing your lawn will give you a beautiful, usable and enjoyable investment.

Best Time To Install Depends on geographic location. Best in Fall for most areas, possibly Spring or late Summer but not recommend in Winter. Depending on geographic location warm season turf-grasses should be planted in late Spring to early summer. Turfgrass sod can be installed any time of the year if it is available
Water Requirements Highest water needs. (Bare soil dries quickly) Moderate to high water needs. (Mulch will retain some moisture) Water lightly for 3 to 4 weeks. Keep surface moist; apply 1-inch of water per week after the first mowing. Watering is crucial. Water immediately after planting and closely monitor each day. Once established (with-in two weeks) watering can be done less frequently. Lowest water requirements. Water at time of installation to a depth of 6 inches, then light watering for next 2 to 3 weeks. Turfgrass will cover soil and prevent drying.
Seed Quality Extremely variable because of germination rates, week and foreign matter content; unknown or unspecified varieties. Generally lower quality seed than used in turfgrass sod production. Buy fresh plugs and sprigs. Keep vegetative stock moist to prevent it from drying out. Typically highest available sod quality, certified, elite seed. Seed may be certified to insure specific variety. Mixtures and blends used to best suit area needs.
Weed Control Multiple applications of pesticides usually required to combat competitive weed growth until turf is established. Spacing between plants increases invasion of weeds. Minimal if any pesticide control
Uniformity of Coverage Seeding varieties, rates, germination times, wash-out (erosion), traffic, feeding birds and rodents can result in spottiness. Mulch layer may minimize these issues Sprigs and plugs are usually planted 6 to 12 inches apart and result in spottiness until plants fill-in. 99 to 100% uniformity with use of mature turfgrass sod
Runoff/Erosion Heavy rains or sloping areas will cause seed, chemicals and soil to wash onto sidewalks and into sewer systems. Little if any protection several month. Mulch layer may minimize these issues. Heavy rains and overwatering can result in runoff. Monitor to keep plants moist. Be careful not to overwater Capable of accepting heavy rains without runoff or erosion.
Visual Impact Rough texture and open soil. Colored mulches act to camouflage appearance of bare soil. Visible gaps until plants begin to establish and fill-in. Immediate beauty of a “complete” and mature lawn.
Usability Low traffic for 2 to 4 months after seeding with faster germinating seed. Normal use only after the first year. Depending on grass variety, may accept low traffic within two to four months but may take as long as three years to fully establish and fill-in Low traffic/use immediately. Normal and high traffic levels within two to three weeks.
Installation Cost Lowest initial cost low to mid level cost Plugs are more expensive than seeds/sprigs. Sprigging is the least expensive and fastest method of establishing a warm-season grass. High initial cost.
Cost vs. Value Higher management and maintenance costs, compounded by increased water and pesticide applications. Delay of use, poor uniformity and unappealing look are trade-offs for lower installation costs. Soil preparation, time, post planting care and keeping plants moist is critical until established. Labor intensive. Installation costs offset by time, usability, uniformity and visual appeal. Reduced maintenance, pesticide and water costs.

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