What’s the best grass seed for my lawn?
The lawn is a fickle beast, nothing is more rewarding or more challenging in the gardening world than your lawn. When it is happy, it is a green lush carpet. But when things go wrong, it can feel like the set of Sandlot. There are a lot of things to consider when keeping your lawn happy such as amount of sun, soil type, amount of water and traffic. With all that considered, let’s try to understand how we can create the best yard possible with the space we have.
Before we choose the variety of the seed, it is important to evaluate the space to decide what will be the best option. Things to think about are the amount of time in the sun, availability of water, and traffic on the lawn (and other disturbances like salt runoff). Once we have figured these things out, it is time to choose the best variety for the space:
For a Shady Area
This will be an area that gets about 3 hours of direct sun a day (or 8 hours of filtered/indirect sun). If your area gets no sun whatsoever, like it is under a tree, then you should consider turning that area into a shaded perennial garden. If you are truly desperate to have some green growth there you could also look into ground covers or even clover. Some great varieties we offer for a shadier lawn are:
Creeping Red Fescue: This variety of fine fescue will do very well in a shady area. Red fescue is very comfortable hanging out in the shade and its color will be very similar to blue grass. This seed will slowly spread if it is in a comfortable environment. Fine fescues do not do well with a lot of foot traffic. It will also be a more drought tolerant grass, but will not grow in situations where the roots get heavily saturated. If you are putting this down, you will want 4lbs/1000 feet for new areas and 3lbs/1000 feet for overseeding.
Shady Mix: Shady mix will be a mix of Chewings fescue, Red fescue, perennial ryegrass and a small portion of bluegrass. This mix is great for an area that is shady that transitions into a more sunny area. The idea with this is the varieties will transition very well together. The perennial ryegrass will quickly germinate and provide coverage for the other varieties while they grow. This mix will have much of the same characteristics/care as the Red fescue because it is largely a fine fescue mix. As they begin to grow you will notice that the ryegrass will eventually get choked out. This is a great option for lawns that have pockets of sun sprinkled in with the shady area, or looking to seed one shady problem spot in a largely sunny area. If you are putting this down, you will want 4lbs/1000 feet for new areas and 3lbs/1000 feet for overseeding.
Dry tough/ tough to grow areas:
If you notice you can never get your lawn past the drought days of summer, or your dogs love making a habit of wearing the grass down to dirt, then maybe it is time to reconsider what seed to put down in your lawn.
Drought Beater Mix: This mix is essentially a mix of different varieties of Tall Fescue. Tall fescue used to be considered a nuisance grass, but over the years it has been cultivated with a finer blade that will actually produce some rhizomes to promote spreading! Drought Beater will grow deep root systems giving it several advantages over other grass types. First, it can access water reserves for long periods of time and this allows it to stay looking green in the winter months. Second, it is extremely wear tolerant, so whether you have a couple dogs or an entire football team, it can stand up to the test! Lastly, this grass is tough! It does not need a lot of fertilization, mowing will not be as frequent and watering will not be as necessary as other varieties. Once established this grass is the perfect matchup against those hot summer months!
A lawn that has a little bit of everything
Now we will always recommend to try your best to match the best seed for that spot, rather than try to make the seed work in different areas. That is sometimes difficult to do so that is where our mixes come into play. These mixes will be different varieties made with the goal of each type of seed thriving in the different spots. The benefit with mixes is if you can use all different types and they should all blend together. That is because they use similar varieties in each, but just with different percentages of each variety.
Custom: Our Custom mix is our most popular grass seed. We recommend this one for full to part sun areas because half of this variety is bluegrass. This mix will germinate quickly due to the perennial rye and will help hold down either seed as it germinates. Then the bluegrass will germinate and eventually spread in all of the sunny areas. If there are shaded pockets, or less than full sun, the Red fescue and perennial rye will stay strong. The variety that does better will depend on the amount of sun thus creating a nice full lawn that blends in well with each other.
Glamour: The glamour mix will be better for areas that are more of a mix of sun and shade. This mix will be more evenly proportioned between perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and bluegrass. This makes it more adaptable to a large spectrum of allotted light the area will receive. This seed will do really well in a lawn that has a large disparity in sun, as royal blue tends to like full sun, fine fescue will like the shady parts and the rye will fill in the middle.
Value Blend: The Value will be mixed similarly to the Glamour, but there is a key difference. The ryegrass in the Value seed will be split between perennial and annual. So this means that the annual ryegrass will only be in space for one season and then would die out through our winter. On a side note, this is the only mix that has any annual seed in it, which is much more common in big box store mixes, so when in doubt be sure to read the guaranteed analysis tag to see how much of and what kind of seed are in those mixes.
Give me a golf course for a lawn
So this is about bragging rights in the neighborhood and we are looking for the fullest, richest lawn. That lawn would be a lush carpet of bluegrass. Before we commit to that we have to make sure that the space is suited correctly. First, we will need adequate sun, which is full sun or 8 hours plus. Next we have to remember that bluegrass has a shallow root system, so make sure there is a plan in place to get water out to the lawn come middle of Summer. Last is selecting the right seed:
Royal Blue Mix: Royal blue mix is a 100 percent mixture of four varieties of bluegrass. This varies from other big box varieties which will mix ryegrass or other materials in the bag (Once again always check the label on the back!) When you put bluegrass down we want to be sure that we are keeping it nice and moist for about three weeks and once it is established be sure to water it in periods of drought. It also helps frequently feed the lawn as this will promote new growth and allow for the gras to become full and lush. If you are starting with a bare area, sometimes we recommend putting down some annual ryegrass with the bluegrass. The reason for this is the rye will hold the seed down with its roots and give added protection to the bluegrass seed while it grows. Then come next year, all the rye will die off and you are left with a 100-percent bluegrass lawn.
Figuring out what is the best plan of attack for your lawn does not have to be overly complicated, but it does take us figuring out what we are trying to get out of the space. Whether that means low maintenance, perfection, eco-friendly, pet-friendly or economical we can figure out the best way forward together!
If you have any pictures of what your back lawn looks like or have any tips of best practices, then please feel free to share them with us!