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Old 04-27-2011, 09:04 PM   #1
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


Hi All,

It scares me a bit this time of year when folks start talking about sprinkling "grass seed" to establish a lawn. In most instances you really want to look at the labels and pick a blend that matches your growing conditions---soil type, sun, shade, and so forth.

It is not exactly false advertising but bags of grass seed (e.g. contractor special) that promise quick germination and a lawn in a week are made up mainly of ANNUAL ryegrasses that will not grow into any kind of real turf. The seeds will germinate in as little as 3-5 days but you will get one season of rather clumpy looking lawn out of them.

What you should look for is a compatible blend of different types of turfgrasses that will adapt to your situation. Those with perennial rygrass, bluegrass, fescue, etc. hybrids is what you want. And be patient. The perennial ryegrasses will germinate quickly in sunny conditions but the bluegrasses and fescues will take much longer to appear.

Also keep an eye on how much "inert" seed and so forth is in with the real turfgrass seed because a lot could be weeds.

The best way to buy turfgrass seed is in bulk from a reputable feed, ag, seed dealer or a nursery. In my old hood in Central Illinois the Tru Value hardware franchise did a whopping business this time of year letting people make their own blends and scooping it into plastic or paper bags. Buying it this way is no more expensive then buying boxes or bags of the cheap annual rye stuff from the major retail packagers but you will have to glue your own pretty picture of a lawn on the bag if that is important to you.

I have never been willing to pay for it. In fact PM me and I will inkjet you out a gorgeous picture of a lawn and you can pay me the extra $5-10 or whatever absurd amount they get for the packaging.

And flatter your local turfgrass managers. I always loved it when people asked me questions. I never did golf courses but did a lot of large commercial property work. The turf wizards will gladly tell you what blend they plant and how they take care of it. Same with park people and so forth.

What kind of blend in general? Perennial rygrasses, once established look nice and can take a lot of heat, sun and moderate drought conditions. Bluegrasses are more water dependent but sturdy as they come and will bridge into partial shade nicely. Fescues and nice texture and will deal with almost full shade well.


Last edited by user1007; 04-27-2011 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:19 PM   #2
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


since no one else has said it, thanks for the very informative post. I know I enjoyed it.

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Old 04-28-2011, 09:23 PM   #3
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


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Originally Posted by MLMIB View Post
since no one else has said it, thanks for the very informative post. I know I enjoyed it.
I did too. Thanks.

So you don't recommend something like Scott's EZ seed for small spots?
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:50 PM   #4
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


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Originally Posted by Breakthecycle2 View Post
I did too. Thanks.

So you don't recommend something like Scott's EZ seed for small spots?
I cannot comment since I do not know what is in the blend. Most quick fix stuff is designed to make you happy which means fast germinating seeds for at least part of the mix and those are usually annual, single season turf grasses. Read the label. If it is heavy in ANNUAL rye or other ANNUAL grasses, with not much else in it I would buy something else.

Last edited by user1007; 04-28-2011 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 04-29-2011, 11:29 AM   #5
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


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I cannot comment since I do not know what is in the blend. Most quick fix stuff is designed to make you happy which means fast germinating seeds for at least part of the mix and those are usually annual, single season turf grasses. Read the label. If it is heavy in ANNUAL rye or other ANNUAL grasses, with not much else in it I would buy something else.
Thanks for your input. I will double check. Thanks again!
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Old 04-29-2011, 11:31 AM   #6
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


Hey sdsester, I agree that reading the back of a seed bag is very useful.

Here in the Chicago area, prepackaged seed blends rarely have any annual grass in them at all. One notable exception is the "contractor" blends which customers like to choose on their own since it's so much cheaper. Of course, the "contractors" like this grass not only for price but quick germination. It is not something I'd ever recommend to a home owner here. Down south annual fescues are used for winter overseeding, but that's another subject.

Most of the grass mixes are blends of perennials. The blends correspond to the type of conditions expected such as full sun, shady, high traffic, etc.

On the back of every bag you will find a list of seed types included as well as germination rates and expiration dates.
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Old 04-29-2011, 11:33 AM   #7
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


Has anyone ever tried Pennington Grass Seed? It seems it has a nice blend.
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Old 04-29-2011, 12:15 PM   #8
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Grass Seed is Not Generic - Get the Right Blend


Good points; I agree. It's no different than when someone asks where to look for a door, window, lockset, or even just plain old lumber; I refer them to the lumber yard, or, in the case of grass seed, the mill or greenhouse. Another thing about dealing with a mill, greenhouse, or nursery, for those with a meticulous lawn, is that you can take a scoop of your existing lawn with you, and they will fix you up with the exact mix that you need. For people like me, with a basic country lawn, that's not as big of a deal, but you still come out ahead buying from such places, because, pound for pound, you get less rye, as sdsester said, meaning you get more of "the good stuff" that will provide you with a strong, durable, long-term lawn. Thank you sdsester.

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