The decision of whether to turf or sow mainly lies with time and cost. The method of turfing will achieve a lawn instantly whereas sowing your seed may take considerably longer, the time of year will need to be considered but will cost a lot less.
Either method is relatively straightforward as long as a number of steps are followed. A rough UK guide to offer a comparative would be £2.00 (2.58$/2.38 e) or under per roll. Each roll being a square metre. A bag of amenity lawn seed costs £15 in the UK (19$ or 17e) per 2.5 kg bag and covers 100 sqm. It’s how much time/money you want to spend on the project.
The time of year may be a factor. The only time of year not suitable for turf laying is high Summer. The grass while it’s knitting together will need to be irrigated, this must be adhered to. The grass as it’s fusing will shrink and sink so watering will help reduce this. The sowing of grass seed ideally should be done in a period where it will not be disturbed. Ideally, beginning of Autumn and before Spring so that in the dormant period it can be developing its root system without any interference.
The preparation time of the site is similar. The ground will need to be broken up and air needs to be circulating throughout the area. All stones will need to be removed. This will allow you to work the soil and achieve a suitable base for the lawn. The soil particles must be as small as you can make them. The laying of turf or sowing of seed will be a lot easier and the finish better. If the ground is compact, the roots will find it difficult to penetrate through the soil and establish themselves. The area is likely to get waterlogged too in wet conditions.
The soil needs to be free draining, so if it is heavy or clay-based this needs to be mixed with some thinning agent. An idea might be to add sand or new top soil with at least a 2 inch root zone. If it is too sandy, it’s likely to scorch in dry periods and so the reverse would be to mix humus matter to the soil and make it more water retaining. This surface needs to be as level as possible and the particles of soil to a “fine tilth”. All this preparation will ensure success of either your turf or seed and generally the whole operation will be smoother.
The type of seed becomes relevant at this point. With the type of turf you’ll find this is usually fixed. If it’s from an amenity area cultivated for sport, it’s likely to include Bents and Fescues – these are often described as “fine grasses”. The lower grade grasses for normal/utility lawns tend to include Ryegrasses and Meadow (Bluegrass) varieties. This area is so complex now, it warrants its own blog. There are pro’s and cons to both these not just on the purpose of the lawn but weed/disease resistance, general resilience, the level of cut it can withstand.