Turfgrass Lawn Guide - Establishing a Lawn

Turfgrass Lawn Guide

Establishing a Lawn



Turfgrass Sod


Sprigs and Stolons







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
  • Reduced Pest and Allergy-related Problems
  • Dust Suppression/Capture
  • Glare Reduction
  • Air Pollution Control
  • Oxygen Production
  • Carbon Retention & Storage
  • Cooling Effect
  • Fire Barrier
  • Wild Life Habitat
  • 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.


What Option for Establishing A Lawn Best Serves Your Needs?




Best Time To Install


Seed – Hydroseeding

Depends on geographic location. Best in Fall for most areas, possibly Spring or late Summer but not recommend in Winter.









Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

Depending on geographic location warm season turf-grasses should be planted in late Spring to early summer.












Turfgrass Sod

 Turfgrass sod can be installed any time of the year if it is available





Soil PreparationSame for all types of lawn installation: Deeply till soil, add necessary amendments and fertilizers, grade and level for smooth surface, remove all debris, lightly pack and moisten.



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.


Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs

Watering is crucial. Water immediately after planting and closely monitor each day. Once established (with-in two weeks) watering can be done less frequently.


Turfgrass Sod

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


Seed / Hydroseeding

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.


Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

Buy fresh plugs and sprigs. Keep vegetative stock moist to prevent it from drying out.


Turfgrass Sod

 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.


Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

Spacing between plants increases invasion of weeds.


Turfgrass Sod

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, Stolons and Plugs  

Sprigs and plugs are usually planted 6 to 12 inches apart and result in spottiness until plants fill-in.


Turfgrass Sod

99 to 100% uniformity with use of mature turfgrass sod





Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

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.


 Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

Heavy rains and overwatering can result in runoff. Monitor to keep plants moist. Be careful not to overwater


Turfgrass Sod

Capable of accepting heavy rains without runoff or erosion.



Visual Impact


Turfgrass Sod

Rough texture and open soil. Colored mulches act to camouflage appearance of bare soil.


 Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs 

Visible gaps until plants begin to establish and fill-in.


Turfgrass Sod

Immediate beauty of a “complete” and mature lawn.






Low traffic for 2 to 4 months after seeding with faster germinating seed. Normal use only after the first year.


Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

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


Turfgrass Sod

Low traffic/use immediately. Normal and high traffic levels within two to three weeks.



Installation Cost



Lowest initial cost low to mid level cost


Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs  

Plugs are more expensive than seeds/sprigs. Sprigging is the least expensive and fastest method of establishing a warm-season grass.


Turfgrass Sod

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.


Sprigs, Stolons and Plugs

Soil preparation, time, post planting care and keeping plants moist is critical until established. Labor intensive.


Turfgrass Sod

Installation costs offset by time, usability, uniformity and visual appeal. Reduced maintenance, pesticide and water costs.



How to Establish Your Lawn


Determining how to establish a beautiful lawn can present several questions, numerous answers and produce a variety of results. The information in this brochure is intended to assist you in obtaining and achieving the quality lawn you desire.


There are basically two options for establishing a lawn depending on your regional location, vegetative or seeded.



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.  


Turfgrass Sod is 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. 


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


Sprigs or Stolons are individual plants or sections of plants containing several nodes from which new plants may grow. 



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.