Grass is grass, right? It’s all thin and green, so why not choose the cheapest bag you can find?
The truth is, all grass is not the same. Just as different varieties of tomatoes and trees have drastically different characteristics, lawn grasses also have different traits and preferences. Even within the same type of grass are variations that can make the difference between a lawn that dies from fungal disease or cold temperature vs. one that thrives in the same environment.
Avoid Bargain Grass Seeds
Most seed shoppers lean toward bargain varieties because they don’t realize there’s a major performance difference. Bargain varieties are often the poorest performers in university turf grass studies and are more prone to bugs, diseases, weather stresses, and have shorter life spans.
It’s important to view your lawn as a long-term investment when choosing the right seed, versus feeling you are getting a deal. Homeowners can buy many of the same superior varieties used by golf courses, public parks, and athletic fields and achieve the same or similar performance.
Whether you’re filling in a spot on an existing lawn, or seeding a new lawn—it’s important to choose wisely.
Grass Seed Blends vs. Mixtures
Many consumer grass seed options are simply described as mixes or blends. There are even those that highlight a specific state or region where the product performs best. The challenge is figuring out how these grass seed product names, translate to a grass type that will grow well in your region.
A grass seed mixture is a combination of two or more different types of grass seed typically used to provide a variety of benefits, such as increased disease resistance and improved adaptation to different soil and weather conditions.
A grass seed blend is a combination of the same type of grass seed but from different varieties and is typically used to achieve a specific aesthetic or performance goal
The first step in deciding on the best grass type depends on your climate. Climate plays a major role in grass seed selection because different grass seed types have different temperature and moisture requirements. Lawn grasses are grouped into two main types: cool-season grass and warm-season grass.
Cool-season grasses grow best in the Northern, Midwestern, and most of the Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Cool-season grasses thrive in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and typically remain green through the winter.
Most common types of grass in cool-season lawns:
- Fine fescue: Has good shade tolerance; attractive fine texture; low fertilizer needs; good drought tolerance.
- Kentucky bluegrass: Has good dark-green color and attractive fine texture; quick to fill in and recover from injury; very good cold tolerance; good tolerance to foot traffic.
- Perennial ryegrass: Is very quick to germinate; tolerant of foot traffic; has a glossy sheen and attractive fine texture.
- Tall fescue: Has excellent tolerance to foot traffic; tolerates some shade; good drought tolerance in cool climates; tolerates high heat better than other cool-season grasses, making it useful in transition zones and even warm-season areas
Warm-season grasses grow best in the Southern, Southwestern, and lower West Coast of the United States which typically see very hot summers. Warm-season grass thrives in temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically will go dormant and turn brown during the cooler months.
Most common types of grass in warm-season lawns:
- Bahia grass: Tolerates sandy and acidic soil as well as salty conditions; heat- and drought-tough; tolerates foot traffic very well; good disease resistance; forms a dense mat to discourage weeds.
- Bermuda grass: Easy to grow from seed; heat- and drought-tough; tolerant of foot traffic; fills in thickly and quickly; tolerates cooler temperatures better than most warm-season grasses.
- Buffalo grass: Very drought-tough; good tolerance of foot traffic; attractive fine texture; has low fertilizer needs; good heat tolerance and is also more cold-tolerant than most warm-season grasses.
- Centipede grass: Slow-grower and so needs less mowing; low fertilizer needs; tolerates sandy soil; tolerant of partial shade; performs well in transition zones.
- St. Augustine grass: Has good shade tolerance; tolerates sandy soil and salty conditions; good heat tolerance; forms dense mat to discourage weeds.
- Zoysia grass: performs well in hot and dry conditions, handles moderate foot traffic, can grow in partial shade, has a slow growth rate, suitable for transitional weather regions, and forms a thick mat that prevents weeds from growing.
Some grasses in either camp will grow in the transition zone between North and South. It’s important to double-check the seed label detail on the packages that identify the grass type or types—as many bags come in a mix of more than one species.
The second factor to consider is the amount of sun that reaches the area where you will be planting grass seed. Different grass types prefer different amounts of exposure to the sun.
For example, grasses that require full sun need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. These types of grasses are typically more heat and drought-tolerant, but may not perform well in areas with heavy shade.
On the other hand, grasses that can tolerate partial shade need less sun and could be a better choice for areas with less direct sunlight.
The third factor to consider is how much traffic your lawn will be exposed to. Different types of grass have varying tolerance to foot traffic so it is important to select a grass seed that can withstand your intended usage.
Grasses that can handle heavy foot traffic, for example, are thicker and have a dense blade structure that can withstand wear and tear better. These types of grasses are typically more durable and less likely to become patchy or thin in high-traffic areas.
Grasses that can't handle heavy foot traffic are more delicate and may become damaged or worn down quickly in areas with frequent foot traffic. This can lead to an uneven lawn or bare spots.
Choose which type of grass seed is right for you, then buy quality seed. GreenView’s Fairway Formula Grass Seed uses only the best quality seed varieties. Each of our grass seed blends and mixes are 99.9% weed-free and contains only pure seed.