If your lawn is in need of a makeover or you have moved into a newly built home that doesn’t have a lawn at all, you’ll be wondering about the best way to tackle the problem, and a strong possibility is buying and laying sod.
For anyone wondering about where to buy sod, you’re probably also looking for information about how to buy it, how to choose the best sod, how to lay it and more – so to help, here is our guide to buying sod to help you get it right.
What Need to Know Before You Buy Sod?
For a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking out, give this video a watch before you continue.
What is sod?
Let’s start at the beginning – what is sod? Sod is grass that has been grown for you elsewhere and is delivered to your home in rolls of turf ready for laying in your garden.
You simply order the amount you need, wait for it to arrive and then set it down in place, instantly providing you with a green and thriving lawn. Or at least, that’s the theory – and in a moment, we’ll talk more about how to ensure that’s just what happens.
The rolls of turf are delivered on pallets, and you need to carefully measure the size of your lawn to order the right amount – it’s best to order an extra 5% just to be sure. Then, when it arrives, you need to be ready to put it in place right away.
So now let’s look at the process of choosing, buying and installing sod – and of course, answering the main question of this post about where to buy sod.
Buy Sod vs. seeds?
Both laying sod and sowing seeds have distinct advantages and disadvantages, so before you decide to buy sod, let’s consider whether this is the best choice for your situation.
The main advantage of sod is that it gives you instant results. You can lay the rolls of turf in just one day, and when it’s done, you have a lawn.
You might not be able to walk on it right away, and it will take a bit of care to help it settle in, but right from the first day, it looks like a lawn. And after only another two or three weeks, you will be able to walk on it, play on it or do whatever else you want to do on it.
Sod is also a good choice if you need to control soil erosion in a hurry since it comes with a ready-made root system that will take care of the problem as soon as the turf is in place.
There is also more flexibility about when you can lay it. Depending on where you live, you can install sod in the spring or fall, or even year-round in certain areas.
However, sod is by far the more expensive of the two options. There is much that can affect the price (and we’ll look at some money-saving tips later), but to give you a rough idea, you can expect 1,000 square feet of sod to cost around $650 – or double this with installation.
You are also more limited in your choice of grass species since you can only choose between types that are grown locally – and some grass types aren’t available as sod at all.
- Instant results
- Ready to walk on in only three weeks
- Immediately controls soil erosion
- More flexible over when it can be laid
- No weeds
- Expensive to buy
- Expensive for labor
- Labor-intensive to install
- Limited choice in terms of grass species
Seed, on the other hand, is much cheaper to buy and requires less labor – you simply need to spread it over the area where you want your lawn to be and wait for it to grow.
You also have more choice over the species you can buy, and it doesn’t experience the shock of being transported somewhere else, so it should be healthier with stronger roots.
However, the growing window is shorter, and it’s a much slower process. It can take a long time for it to mature fully, and it requires more maintenance.
It is prone to invasion by weed species, you need to prevent birds from eating the seeds and the soil can also erode before it has become fully established.
- More affordable options
- Less labor intensive
- More choice
- Healthier since no transplantation
- Possibly more rewarding to grow grass from seed
- Slower results
- More maintenance
- Prone to weeds
- Soil can erode since not held in place
- Tighter seeding and growing window
In short, if you need instant results and are not limited by your budget, sod is probably the way to go. On the other hand, if you don’t mind waiting or need to save money, seeding might be a better option.
Also, if you are looking at repairing an existing lawn, if it is already around 40-50% infested by weeds, you might be better digging it up and starting again with sod – but anything less, and you may be able to save it by reseeding alone.
For more information about the seed vs sod debate, give this video a watch before reading on.
Choosing your sod
If you have decided sod is the right choice, you then need to move onto choosing the right type. To do this, there are several factors you need to consider, including the following:
- Sunshine or shade
- Level of foot traffic
- Type of soil – clay, sand or mixed?
For example, you need to choose a type of grass that is suited to your local mix of climatic conditions – you shouldn’t choose a type of grass that can’t stand powerful sunlight if you live in an area with hot summers.
Similarly, some grasses look great but don’t stand up well to being walked on – so if your grass is likely to be well trampled, you need one that is suitable for this.
In general, the kind of sod available in your area will be suitable for your climate and soil conditions, but these are all points to bear in mind when deciding.
Finally, if you are buying sod to place in a worn-out area of your lawn rather than for replacing your whole lawn, you should choose the same type of grass as the rest of your lawn – or at least one that will match.
Where to Buy Sod? Your Options
Now we come to our central question of where to buy your sod, and you have a few choices.
One option is to head to your local garden center. They probably won’t have sod sitting on display (and if they do, you should avoid it because it won’t be in good condition), but they can usually order some for you from their supplier.
Alternatively, you can look for local suppliers yourself and buy directly from them. You should be able to find a list of nearby places online.
It is also possible to buy sod online directly, although this means you won’t be able to check the quality before purchasing – this is something we’ll talk more about in a moment.
Another option is to hire a specialist to take care of the whole process for you. This way, they can source the sod, bring it to you and install it without you having to worry. If you want, they can even choose the type for you, or at least give you advice and suggestions.
Which is best?
There are positives and negatives with all of these options, so let’s look at the best one for you.
Buying from a garden center is convenient because you might not have to travel far. All you need to do is speak to someone about what you want, place the order and then go home and wait for delivery.
However, the problem here is that you don’t get to see the sod before it arrives, so it’s harder to check the quality – you have to rely on the reputation of the vendor.
Buying online might be cheaper since you can source the sod directly from the grower, which may save you some cash. However, you won’t be able to see it before it arrives, so you won’t know anything about the quality.
If you trust your gardening professionals, they may be able to source it for you, which can be the simplest option, but this will also be the most expensive way. Still, if you are more worried about convenience than cost, this could be an attractive choice.
However, if you want the best deal and the best quality, the recommended solution is to find a sod grower that you can visit and then buy from directly.
This gives you the chance to inspect the grass you are buying to check the quality, and the fact that you are cutting out the middleman will also help save you some money.
What to look for when buying sod?
When choosing your vendor – and when inspecting the sod you want to buy – there are a couple of points to bear in mind.
Make sure the grass is free of weeds and that it is lush and healthy. Make sure that it also has a uniform color and that there are no dead patches. You should also check that it doesn’t have any thatch.
Buying sod locally should ensure that the grass will be suitable for your climate, but buying from somewhere closer to home will mean the turf spends less time on the back of a lorry too.
Transplantation is traumatic for grass, so choosing somewhere within around 50 miles of your home will ensure it arrives in the best possible condition, ready for laying.
Organizing delivery and receiving your sod
Once the sod is cut from the ground, it needs to be installed as quickly as possible. It should be laid within 12 hours of being cut from where it grew, and work should start putting it in place within two hours of it arriving. 24 hours is the maximum time it should remain unlaid.
For this reason, you need to arrange the time of delivery carefully with the vendor, and you or your workers should be ready to begin laying it as soon as it arrives.
When the sod is delivered, check that everything is in order. Make sure you have received the right quantity, check the length of the grass, the color and leaf texture, and ensure that the grass species is what you ordered too. Also, make sure there are no weeds in the turf.
Check the thickness of the soil – it should be around an inch thick – and make sure it is moist but not dry or wet.
The company should provide the documentation for when the sod was cut, so you should ask for this on delivery.
If poor weather prevents you from starting work immediately, you should cover the sod over to protect it and make sure it remains moist.
A couple of money-saving tips when buying sod
There are a couple of things you can do to reduce the cost of your purchase of sod. We’ve already mentioned that sourcing it directly yourself can save you a bit of cash, but if you can pick it up in your own vehicle, this will save you paying the delivery fee.
The other major expense with sod is the labor involved with laying it. Two people can probably lay 1,000 square feet in a day, and if you are willing to do it yourself, you can probably halve the overall cost.
Finally, before going to your local garden center, you can also get quotes from other sod vendors – and then if the garden center price is more expensive, you can mention the quotes and you might be able to negotiate a discount.
If you want to learn about caring for your new sod once it’s in place, you might find this video interesting.
Lots of advantages – and several possible ways to reduce costs if you know how
There are some obvious advantages to choosing sod over seeds, and you can mitigate the main problem of cost if you know a couple of tricks – and if you are willing to lay it yourself.
The main things to remember are to source your sod locally and to inspect it before purchasing – and again on arrival. Then, when it is delivered, get it off the pallet and into place as quickly as possible, waiting no longer than a day to get the job done.