Choosing the Best Grass Seed for Your LawnBy: Roxanne Nichols
To Seed or Not to Seed?
Whether you're planting an entirely new lawn or patching it up before spring arrives, grass seed selection is an important decision that can impact how your lawn looks and stays alive year-round.
Grass seed is used for numerous purposes, not just for planting a new lawn. It can also be used to fix bare patches or strengthen existing grass types for upcoming seasons.
If you plan on establishing a new lawn, grass seed is definitely a great way to accomplish this. If you live in the northern regions, grass seed is one of the least expensive options for growing a new lawn. If you live the South, it may be better to use sod or plugs instead, as warm-season grasses are much slower in establishing a lawn from grass seed. Sod and plugs tends to grow faster in these areas.
If you're looking to fix a few balding areas of your lawn, both grass seed and sod will work in creating a new lawn. Although sod is the faster fix, seeds will grow grass that is stronger over time.
Grass seed also helps if you're looking to have a green lawn for the winter in the South. You can overseed your warm-season lawn (all types except St. Augustine) with annual ryegrass. The grass will thrive during cooler weather and will die off in the spring or summer.
A mix of grass seeds can also be purchased to produce the best grass type for your lawn. Cool-season grasses like fescue and bluegrass can be combined with warm-season Zoysia and Bermuda grasses to improve durability and longevity of your lawn.
Types of Grass Seed
There are two types of grass seed:
- Plain grass seed: This is high quality plain grass seed has long, plump seed grains and will grow well if cared for properly.
- Coated grass seed: The advantages of coated grass seed are its ability to cover a larger surface area and a water-conserving coating that dries out less quickly.
The grass type you select depends on where you live and the current condition of your lawn, as well as what you want to achieve with seeding.
In northern areas where the temperatures are cooler year-round, cool-season grasses thrive as temperatures tend to stay under 90°F for extended lengths of time. Some of the grass types that thrive well in the North are:
- Perennial ryegrass
Southern or Transition-Area Lawns
In the South where warmer temperatures dominate most of the year, warm-season grasses are able to thrive in the heat as well as in cooler climates later on. Grass types that can meet this year-round stability in southern areas include:
High Traffic Areas
Durable lawns are important if you live in a home with a lot of activity. Key features of a durable lawn include tolerance against extreme temperatures, fast recovery time, and drought resistant. Some of the grass seeds that can accomplish these are:
- Perennial ryegrass (cool season)
- Kentucky bluegrass (cool season)
- Bermuda (warm season/Southern)
Low Maintenance Grasses
Low maintenance grass types are good for lawns that are there for looks rather than functionality. These grass types are generally slow-growing and produce shallow root systems that have a low tolerance for drought. Despite this, low maintenance grass seeds are often cheaper than more durable varieties of grass and produce brilliant colors that withstand changing seasons easily. Common low maintenance grass types include:
- Fine leaf fescue (cool season)
- Tall fescue (cool season)
- Bahia (warm season)
- Centipede (warm season)