How to Choose the Best Grass Seed
Grass is green and needs to be mowed. That's all you need to know about grass seed, right? Not at all. Your climate zone, durability needs and maintenance requirements are among the factors to consider when selecting the best grass seed for your lawn.
Assessing The Lawn
Your climate zone will determine whether a cool season or warm season grass is appropriate. Warm season grass is ideal for southern states, while cool season grass thrives in the Midwest and Northern sections of the U.S.
Ask yourself a few questions. What activities will occur on your lawn? Is the grass for looks only or will children and pets romp all over it? How much time, effort and money are you willing to dedicate to maintenance? What are the soil type, pH levels, shade and sun exposure? If you're not sure, give us a call or come on in to a local store. Our lawn experts will be happy to help you get a soil test or choose the best grass or lawn fertilizer for your local area. Use our Store Locator to find a location near you.
Cool Season Lawn Grasses
Early fall is the best time to plant cool season grasses, but they can also be planted in the spring.
The most common cool season grass is Kentucky Bluegrass. It performs best in full sun, but can be mixed with fine fescue for shady areas. The color, texture and density produce a good all around yard.
Tall Fescue Grass Seed is popular, because of its drought and heat tolerance. Fine fescue includes red fescue, hard fescue and Chewings fescue. While they can be planted alone, fescues usually are included in shady lawn blends.
The durability of perennial ryegrass makes it a good choice for high traffic lawns. It establishes itself quickly and withstands drought conditions. It's also cold tolerant. Annual Rye Grass lives for only one season.
Warm Season Lawn Grasses
Plant warm season grasses in the late spring. Be aware that extended cooler temperatures turn most warm season grasses brown. Improved Bermuda Grass is found on golf courses across the South, but it's Common Bermuda Grass that's used for lawns. This low maintenance grass likes the heat, but isn't suitable for shady areas.
The heat tolerance of St. Augustine Grass makes it a popular choice. This fast growing grass performs well in sun and shade. Bahia Grass comes in Argentine and Pensacola varieties, but Argentine is the better choice for lawns. A low maintenance grass, it’s resistant to drought, disease and insects. The well developed root system helps to prevent soil erosion.
Centipede Grass grows well in less than fertile soils and crowds out weeds. Its slow growth requires less mowing than other grasses, but it doesn't have the dark green color some homeowners want.
Grass Seed Labels
Grass seed is sold as a single type of grass, a blend of like grasses or a mixture of different types of grasses. Almost all turf grasses are perennial grasses; meaning they return year-after-year.
Most lawns have more than one type of grass. The beneficial nature of seed mixtures takes advantage of the strengths of each grass. One grass makes up for deficiencies in the others during times of stress.
Labels indicate the kind of seeds and other material in the package. Quality grass seed has little to no weed seeds. Be aware that "quick grow" grasses usually contain annual grasses, which may or may not be what you need. Our article on How To Read A Grass Seed Tag explains more.
It's of utmost importance to buy fresh grass seed. Anything older than nine months is outdated. The label's germination rate tells you the percentage of seed that's expected to produce grass. Look for a minimum of 75 percent.
Have you had good luck with a particular grass seed variety? Do you need a recommendation for which Southern States grass seed mix will work best for you in your area? Tell your story or ask questions in the comments section below. You can also use our Store Locator to find a store near you, where you can call or come in to speak to our Lawn Experts in person for local advice on growing your grass this season!
Ready To Get Started?
Start with our Lawn Care Checklist to make sure you have the essentials covered for your lawn this season.