For many homeowners installing a new lawn, the decision between instant turf or grass seed is a difficult one. While each choice will give you a perfectly good lawn, each has their own benefits and drawbacks. Personal preference will certainly come into your choice to some extent, but it’s wise to objectively consider all the relevant factors before making your decision. Here we outline the advantages and disadvantages of both seeded and instant lawns, to help you decide which is the best option for your home.
Which option is quicker?
Instant turf is obviously going to be faster to establish than grass seed, as, naturally enough, it’s instant. Transplanting already established turf into your yard means you can go from bare ground to lush green lawn in less than a day. While it won’t become fully established instantly, it will only take six to eight weeks for the instant lawn to be become completely usable.
In contrast, a seeded lawn will take much longer to establish and become fully usable. You’ll need to be patient when growing grass seed, as the lawn can take at least two or three months to grow, and 12 months for the grass to fully establish and mature. As well, you’ll likely have to over-sow your lawn with fresh seed several times throughout this period, to prevent a patchy, sparse lawn. It can be a time-consuming process. If you need your lawn fast, seeded lawns are not the way to go.
Which option looks best?
While both lawns will eventually look fine once they have established, an instant lawn has the edge, as the grass has a more even growth pattern and grows much more reliably and consistently. This will result in a better colour and texture, and a more even surface and appearance.
While you can certainly achieve a thick and attractive lawn with grass seed, it does take more effort and time than an instant lawn would. However, without a lot of regular care, seeded lawns can present as uneven, sparse and patchy – particularly if you neglect the necessary re-seeding. Weeds and bare dirt can also make a seeded lawn look messy and disorderly while the seed is germinating, and the lawn is establishing. For instant good looks, instant turf is the best choice.
Which option requires less maintenance?
When it comes to maintenance, instant turf is the winner, hands down. A ready-made lawn requires significantly less watering, upkeep and maintenance than a seeded lawn. And this is true not just in the establishment period, but throughout the life of the lawn. Weeds will find it difficult to penetrate through a thick, well-established thatch of grass, meaning less time you’ll need to spend on weeding. Plus, instant turf has higher wear and tear tolerance, and it’s easy and quick to repair holes or patches in the lawn. Mowing the smooth surface of an instant lawn is also easier, and the grass will grow evenly in all areas. And while grass seed may be eaten by birds or animals while it’s establishing, or be washed away by rainfall, instant turf won’t be going anywhere.
A seeded lawn needs much more maintenance, watering and aftercare than instant turf, as well as regular re-seeding. An instant lawn is the better choice for those who prefer to enjoy their lawn, rather than spending a great deal of time working on it.
Which option is more convenient?
Instant turf is an extremely convenient option, establishing quickly and requiring minimal maintenance. It can be laid all year round in Australia, as long as it’s not frosty or snowy, and it’s quite quick and easy to install. It’s also child and pet-friendly, allowing your children and furry friends to use it safely and often.
A seeded lawn won’t be usable for quite a while after planting, and you’ll need to keep children, pets and all traffic off the lawn until it’s thoroughly established. Generally, you can only plant grass seed in spring or early autumn in Australia too, as this type of lawn cannot be established year-round.
Which option is cheaper?
On the surface, a seeded lawn seems to be cheaper than an instant one. Grass seed is much cheaper than instant turf, plus you may need to factor in labour costs when installing instant turf. Instant turf involves exchanging money for time, as you are essentially paying for someone else’s time in growing and establishing the grass – so that you don’t have to.
However, while the initial cost of an instant lawn is higher, over time the instant lawn may actually work out cheaper. This is due to the much lower maintenance requirements of instant turf. A seeded lawn will require much more maintenance and upkeep, including:
- The ongoing repair of damage
- Re-seeing of bare patches that will need to be carried out over the lifetime of the lawn
- A water requirement that’s 66% higher than that of an instant lawn
All these costs add up over time, and may result in a greater outlay than the initial cost of an instant lawn. One advantage of this is that a seeded lawn will allow you to spread the cost over a longer period of time, even though it may work out to be higher in the long run. While you may think you can’t afford an instant lawn, when you consider this in more depth, you might be surprised.
Which option gives you more choice?
There are more varieties of grass seed to choose from than there are varieties of instant turf. You’ll have a huge choice of grasses when growing a lawn from seed. However, there are plenty of great instant turf choices on the market which will give you everything you need for a beautiful and long-lasting lawn. As well, certain popular varieties of grass, such as Sir Walter Buffalo, can’t be grown from seed, but only from live material.
Make the best decision
Your choice of lawn comes down to the option that will best suit your lifestyle, your time constraints and your budget. Instant turf is the way to go if time, appearance and convenience are important to you. If cost is important, a seeded lawn is initially cheaper – but only at first, and you may be better off considering an instant lawn to save more money in the long run.
If you have an already established lawn, click here to discover five warning signs your lawn needs instant turf.
You can see our great range of instant turf products here.