If you have just bought a new residential or commercial property or are finally ready to make your neighbors green with envy over your lawn, you may be wondering whether to hydroseed or lay sod. The method you choose will depend mainly on your budget and preferences.

Hydroseeding and sodding are excellent lawn establishment methods, but when it comes to cost, hydroseeding is significantly cheaper. On average, you will spend between $0.08 and $0.20 per square foot to hydroseed a lawn, while laying sod costs between $1 to $2 per square foot.

Below are detailed descriptions of the two lawn establishment methods, including their cost variations, advantages, and disadvantages.

Hydroseeding vs Sod Cost Pros & Cons of Both

Hydroseeding is about 70% to 80% cheaper than laying sod. However, sod provides an instant, lush lawn.

The table below displays the average cost of hydroseeding and laying sod. Take a look to have an idea of how much each option costs.

DescriptionHydroseeding costSod cost
Average cost per square foot$0.06 - $0.20$0.35 - $0.85
Average cost per square foot (installed)$0.08 - $0.25$1.00 - $2.00
Labor cost per hour$24 - $30$35 - $75
Cost per ¼ acre$750 - $2,000$3,810 - $9,250
Cost per acre$2,500 - $7,000$15,240 - $37,000

Average cost to install hydroseed vs. sod

On average, sod installation costs $1,990, ranging from $1,050 and $2,930, all in. On the other hand, hydroseeding costs an average of $1,000, with a low cost of $425 and a high cost of $3,500.

The actual cost will depend on factors such as your location, yard condition, turf/slurry type and quality, and the size of your yard.

Hydroseeding vs. sodding cost per square foot

Hydroseeding costs an average of $0.06 to $0.20 per square foot (for the materials) and between $0.08 and $0.25 per square foot (installed).

Laying sod, on the other hand, costs between $0.35 and $0.85 per square foot (materials alone) and between $1.00 – $2.00 per square foot (installed). The actual cost will depend on the turf type and quality you choose.

Labor cost to install hydroseed vs. sod

When installing sod or hydroseed, you can decide to hire a pro or DIY the project if your lawn is small. Professionals charge between $35 and $75 per hour to lay sod and about $24 to $30 per hour to hydroseed.

Pros have the skills and experience to offer professional results. They can work around hazards and prepare the soil before installing your preferred lawn. Pros can also advise you on the best grass for your area’s climate, lawn’s sun exposure, and budget.

Cost factors affecting hydroseeding vs. sodding

The actual cost of hydroseeding or sodding is a sum of many factors. Here are some of the factors that you should know;

The size of the yard

The larger your lawn, the higher the cost of sodding or hydroseeding. The professionals you hire will measure your lawn and find the actual area in square feet. This will help them calculate how much they should charge for the project.

Besides, the amount of sod or hydroseeding mixture your lawn requires will depend on its size. The larger the yard, the more the turf materials, thus, the higher the cost.

The shape of your lawn

If your yard is regular, say rectangular or square-shaped, you will pay less compared to irregularly shaped areas that tend to consume more seed or sod to fill up the entire space that might not have been calculated for.

Your location

You will pay more to hydroseed or install sod on your lawn if you are near major urban cities compared to when you could have been in the upcountry due to the urban pricing.

Regional water restrictions can also impact the establishment and success of your lawn. Hydroseeding, for instance, requires a lot of water during the early weeks. So, if you live in a drought-prone area, it may be difficult to hydroseed.

Access and delivery to your lawn

Lawns that are easily accessible and near materials suppliers will cost you less to install because of low transportation charges within a given distance. But if your yard is inaccessible, you will have to spend extra money to transport the materials.

The condition of your yard

A lawn area that is well maintained will require less seed, watering, and fertilizer application to do well; hence will cost you less. On the other hand, if your yard is in poor condition, then you will have to spend more to prepare it before dressing it with sod or slurry. The expenses will also increase if you need to boost the soil’s pH or use boosters like fertilizers or organic manure.

The slope of your lawn

Well-leveled lawn grounds will take less material (sod/hydroseed mixture, fertilizer, etc.) and will cost less to establish. On the flip side, in sloppy or mountain-like areas, you will require more materials, manpower, and advanced machines to level the ground, in which case you will spend more.

Hydroseeding vs. sodding: pros and cons

Both hydroseeding and sodding are excellent options if you want to establish a lush, thick, healthy lawn. Sodding is, however, a faster but more expensive option, while hydroseeding is slower yet cheaper. When compared to regular seeding, hydroseeding and laying sod are fast-acting and will produce high-quality turf.

The type of sod or hydroseed you choose will depend on the climate of your area, your soil condition, and the amount of traffic the lawn is likely to receive.

Hydroseeding vs sodding pros and cons

Below are the main pros and cons of these two options.

Pros of hydroseeding

  • Ideal for large lawns. If you have a large, hilly, or sloping lawn, hydroseeding would be the ideal option as it will be cheaper, faster, and more convenient.
  • Low labor cost. Whether you are hiring a professional or you are DIYing, hydroseeding is cheaper than laying sod which is labor intensive.
  • Seeds are cheap. Hydroseeding will save you a lot of money (about 70% – 80% of the cost of laying sod) that you could otherwise have paid just for acquiring ready-to-install sod – considering you are paying for the time, material, and labor inputs all at once.
  • Healthier lawn. Hydroseeding allows you to select a unique slurry mixture that best suits your lawn requirements. The mixture you choose will also depend on your soil type, pH and your area’s climate. More so, the process of mixing slurry and mulch is done on your lawn. This procedure enables the seed to germinate and naturally grow within the same soil type with minimum or no disturbance. As a result, your grass will be healthy
  • Disease resistance. There is a portion of treatment in the mixture of seed, water, and fertilizer that kills weeds in your lawn. This ensures that you have a disease-free lawn, making it sustainable for you and the environment.
  • Erosion control. The process of binding seed, mulch, slurry, and treatment with the soil encourages moisture retention and protects the ground from strong wind, rain, pests, and the sun, which could have otherwise caused erosion. Hydroseeding has shown to have good water retention due to its ability to retain up to 10 times its water weight. This is one of the reasons why it is becoming the most preferred lawn establishment method.
  • Safe. Hydroseeding is absolutely safe and non-toxic. It does not cause harm to the environment, pets or kids.
  • Speed. You will not get instant lawn satisfaction as sod does, but the combination of safety, good quality, controlled erosion, and high water retention makes it favorable. In about 7 days, you will observe germination and faster growth if you do proper hydroseeding and lawn watering.

Cons of hydroseeding

  • No instant lawn. Hydroseeding will not give you an instant lawn like sod. It will take about a week for the seed to germinate, and about 3 to 4 weeks to have a full lawn. If you are in a rush, hydroseeding will not work for you. It takes time to prepare the ground besides waiting for several weeks for it to germinate, grow roots and sprout. Brave for an unattractive lawn for a while.
  • Requires a lot of water. It will require up to three times watering daily – up to three times a day – for a healthy, lush lawn.
  • Depends on climate. Hydroseeding requires strict observation from a lot of rain as the mixture may be washed away. Hence you will have to find the right time to blow the seeds, making it unreliable. More so, hydroseeding is unsuitable for dry seasons. Adverse climatic changes can cause uneven growth, forcing you to blow the seeds again and again, which will cost you more than you had budgeted for.
  • It is costly for small lawns. If your yard is small, renting a machine or buying one will be expensive as it is almost the same price as large lawns. It is better to broadcast grass seeds than hire a landscaper with their hydroseeding equipment.
  • Strict procedure. The hydroseeding process or instructions must be followed to a T, or else you will have invited trouble to your garden. The soil preparation requires certain conditions. Also, you should not leave the seeds in the hydroseed equipment for more than an hour, as the water and fertilizer may damage them.

Pros of laying sod

  • Speed. Sod will provide immediate results. It is ideal for people looking for instant gratification. You can step on the grass almost immediately and enjoy your new view without the need to wait for several weeks.
  • Helps control soil erosion. Sodding provides instant cover and stabilization in erosion-prone areas. The sod turf filters dust and dirt in your lawn just upon installation. As the roots form and attach to the ground, the bare soil is covered, preventing soil erosion.
  • Reliable and flexible as it requires less irrigation. You can install sod any time of the year with the assurance of growth without fail, even in times when you are expecting no rain or your waters are limited.
  • Relatively cheap soil preparation cost. The cost to prepare your yard is low as it does not require much treatment, extraction of rocks and watering as compared to when you hydroseed.
  • It is convenient. You can consider installing sod anytime if you have the money. There is no strict procedure or duration for the installation. Sodding saves you the time and stress of waiting for the grass seeds to germinate and grow.
  • Denser lawn with little seeding over time. Sod offers your lawn a lush, even, and pristine beauty that saves you from future extra work of filling spots with seed which again requires time to grow.

Cons of laying sod

  • Expensive to install. Laying sod is quite expensive compared to other lawn establishment methods like hydroseeding or regular seeding.This is because you will pay for the materials used, the time spent to germinate and grow it and the labor it requires.
  • Requires professional installation. You risk messing with the installation if you are not an expert in that field. Requiring a professional for proper soil preparation and better results means you are limited to their availability and advice.
  • Limited options. You will not have as many grass seed options for sod as there are for hydroseeding.
  • Prone to weeds. Sod may be unhealthy after some time because of weeds. The constant pruning of the weeds may disrupt the roots, thus affecting the health and strength of the sod.
Cons of laying sod

Which is better: hydroseed vs. sodding?

To help you decide between hydroseeding or sodding, ask yourself these three questions;

  1. Do you have the patience to wait a long time to see your results?
  2. What is your budget, or how much money are you willing to spend?
  3. How much care are you going to give your lawn?

If you want faster results and money is not a problem, then sodding is the way to go. However, if you are on a limited budget, hydroseeding would be a better option as it is cheaper.

Moving on, your schedule can also determine the type of lawn you should choose. If you are a busy person, you might not get enough time to care for your yard. In this case, sodding would be a better option for you.

On the other hand, if your work schedule is not demanding, and you are a gardening/landscaping enthusiast, hydroseeding will give you a perfect opportunity to establish your lawn from scratch.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.