Moving into a new house in fall. Advice, please?

Greetings,
I'll be moving into a new house sometime in late August or early September and it will not be sodded by the builder. The weather around here at that time of the year is pretty cold. It's not uncommon to get frost in the morning by September.
What I'm wondering is, whether I should go ahead and sod the needed area even if it's late in the season, or I should wait until next spring? What would you do if you were in my situation with the lawn? Thanks for your time and courtesy.
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Your Name wrote:

The best time to start a new lawn is right after the summer heat has passed. If you're in the US, unless you're up in the mountains, a little frost in the air in September is not a big deal. Soil temperatures will be higher than air temperatures, and a little nip in the air shouldn't harm a cool season grass.
I would also consider seeding instead of sodding. If you have a lot of money, sod is great. Instant lawn. But just as much prep work is needed for sod as seed, and if you have a chance to seed at the best time to seed (fall), why spend the extra money on sod? If the lawn will be covered by snow all winter, no one cares if there's sod or seed underneath, and by late spring, a fall seeded lawn is going to look as good as a fall sodded lawn. And it'll have been less of a stress on your wallet, too.
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Warren H.

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Warren, thank you so much for your timely reply. I really appreciate your suggestion as well about seeding instead of sodding as well. I forgot to ask about that, but you answered anyway :-)
I'm thinking more and more towards seeding instead of sodding now. Can you please recommend a few good online resource to learn more about grass seeding? I'm afraid I'm all thumbs when it comes to DIY projects and they're not green either. But it is something I would like to try and would be nice if I can be informed somewhat before I do.
Thanks again for your time and courtesy.
Steve
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Your Name wrote:

Your state or county extension office's website should be your first stop. They should have recommendations for the seed mix that's best for your specific area, and your intended uses of your lawn. Almost certainly it'll be a mix of varieties of seeds. You perennial grasses take longer to establish, so expect your mix to include annual grasses as well. Don't let that scare you even for a fall seeding.
Make sure your contractor hasn't used your lawn as a dumping ground. Far too often they cover-up construction debris, and large rocks because it's cheaper than hauling them off. Eventually the biodegradable debris will result in uneven settling of the lawn, and the rocks have a way of slowly shifting towards the surface while all that settling is going on around them.
Get some topsoil, but keep in mind that topsoil means different things to different people. Topsoil isn't "top-of-the-line". It's literally the soil that's on top. But it could be really crappy soil that just happened to be on top of where it was scraped from. Where I live we have a soil company that not only will show you the soil they can bring you, they can explain the uses of all the mixes in their product lines, including their compost and mulches. They get really excited talking about soils even though your one retail sale isn't very cost effective if they were to factor in the time spend educating you. But they love to talk about soil. I'd buy from them before I'd buy from the grunting guy who can't take the time to explain how they make their soil.
Once you seed, water frequently, but not so much that you turn everything into a muddy mess that's visibly eroding down the hill. Water enough for the seed to stay moist during germination. Don't let it dry out. That's why fall is so great -- Mother Nature is starting to chip in with some free water. Next year, water infrequently -- like once a week -- put down an inch all at once so it soaks in deeply. That'll encourage root growth.
Don't forget that lawns are expensive and labor intensive. Don't crowd the garden beds around the lawn. A well mulched bed, even if it's empty, won't need much more weeding than a lawn (and you can use less selective herbicides if you choose that route, too.) A mulched bed doesn't need to be mowed. And it doesn't need to be watered. And as you fill it with plants, you can choose low-maintenance, drought tolerant plants. Meanwhile, you'll be watering and mowing the adjoining lawn. If you need place for the kids to play, that may be great. Or if you really love the look of a huge lawn, cool. But if you want to save time and money, there are lower cost/maintenance ways to go than lawn.
There are lots of different ideas out there on how to accomplish your goals. Some are entirely organic. Some rely on spending lots of money on chemicals. But most everyone would agree that starting with good soil (although how deep is up for discussion), set a smooth grade, and the right mix of seed for your area (which isn't always what they have at Home Depot) are your three main considerations. Water frequently when germinating. Water infrequently, but deeply once established. And mow higher than people who haven't given their lawn any thought generally think. (You probably won't be planting bent grass like a putting green, and you won't have a grounds crew constantly maintaining it. Real-life lawns use grasses that you can't effectively putt on.)
Your county or state extension office probably has more regional suggestions in addition suggestions on seed mix, so starting there is probably your best bet.
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Warren H.

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Warren,
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to reply with such wealth of information and suggestions. I truly appreciate it. I'll be sure to keep the things you mentioned in mind when I start seeding my lawn. Thanks again.
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Steve I would suggest you have someone knowledgeable (someone here surely knows the agency name I'm forgetting) look at your soil and the state the lawn area is in as far as grading etc before doing anything with sod or seed.... Builders tend to destroy any semblance of top soil if indeed any was left by the developers! Sod or seed, you may find the smartest move you can make is to have a good 6 inches or more of good top soil spread out beforehand! I wish someone had given me this advice!
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Yeah, I'll be sure not to go cheap on the topsoil as I start to make plans for seeding my lawn. Thanks for the tip. Appreciate it.
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