You might assume that a bag of grass seed contains all or mostly grass seed, but that’s often not the case. Many bags of retail grass seed contain only half grass seed with the rest made up of coatings, fillers, and other “inert” materials. Some lawn-patching products even contain up to 90 percent of non-seed ingredients.
It’s easy to tell how much actual grass seed you’re getting for your dollar. The Federal Seed Act, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requires grass-seed bags to spell out the amounts and varieties of each grass seed inside as well as the percentage of the bag’s weight that’s devoted to non-seed materials.
What’s on the label?
Although the format can vary, seed companies must label their bags with several standard pieces of information. These include germination rates, where the seed originated, when the seeds were tested, when they should be sold by, and the percentage of weed seeds. Two of the most important things to look at are the seed blend, mixture, or variety, and what else is in the bag.
Federal label laws require companies to list the percentage, by weight, of each of the specific grass-seed varieties in the bag. By adding these together, you can tell what percentage of the bag’s total weight is grass seed. They must also list percentages of other ingredients, which can include coatings (typically fertilizer), weed seeds, and “inert matter.”
Inert matter is a catch-all term for anything else that doesn’t grow. It includes unavoidable left-overs from the seed-cleaning process, such as chaff, broken seeds, and seed stems, but it also can include added fillers or mulching materials, such as sawdust or paper.
Seed vs. filler
If you’re looking for a product that has coated seed, and included fertilizers and other additives, you’re going to be looking at labels that include up to 50% or more of “other materials.” In contrast, if you’re wanting a product with MORE seed, look for bags that have less than 2% of other materials (inert matter, fertilizer, etc.). These products will have the highest amount of seed, yielding you the highest amount of grass.
Bags of GreenView Fairway Formula Grass Seed contain no coatings or fillers and are almost entirely filled with grass seed. On the label, you will see that GreenView Grass Seed products are make up of 99.9% grass seed, without any extra fillers or weed seed. This will give you the most bang for your buck, and the most grass for your lawn.
If you do want fertilizer and germination aids to enhance your seeding project while not removing value from your seed, try GreenView Fairway Formula Seeding Success. It is a separate seed enhancer that is a combination starter fertilizer & seeding mulch that helps maintain moisture in the planted area, so grass seeds successfully germinate. The paper mulch is completely biodegradable, and is combined with fertilizer, a wetting agent, and a special tackifier that helps keep mulch in place to protect the seed and soil while it germinates - even on rainy and windy days, or when seeding a sloped area.