Choosing Grass Seed

If you plan to spread grass seed, there are a few considerations to explore in selecting which seed to use.

Kentucky Bluegrass is a cool season grass recommended for areas that get lots of snow because it tolerates cold winters and traffic.  In hot summers, its shallow root system will require regular watering to help it maintain its blue-green color and thick, dense habit. Although it goes dormant in the winter, it will recover quickly when the snow is gone.  Kentucky Bluegrass is a fine textured grass that tolerates a lot of use and will grow in light shade. There are many varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass to choose from and it mixes well with tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. Kentucky Bluegrass is often used in pastures that support cattle, horses and other farm animals because it replaces itself quickly after grazing.

Tall Fescue is another cool-season grass that grows well in sun or shade.  It tolerates heat and traffic but is best mixed with Kentucky Bluegrass where winters are cold and snow is plentiful. It grows well in full sun or shade and is not fussy about soil.  Tall fescue has a fairly deep root system and can withstand high and infrequent mowing.  Provide adequate water and fertilizer for the best turf quality.  Seed takes about 10-14 days to sprout, it doesn’t develop thatch, and has few disease problems.

Perennial Rye Grass performs best of all the cool season grasses on lawns that get heavy use.  A low maintenance choice for home lawns, it can be mowed short or left to grow long.  Perennial rye grass seeds germinate in a few days and grow quickly in bunches that create a nice even lawn.  Its shallow root system does need plenty of water in very hot weather. Its one drawback is that is doesn’t grow well in shade

 Commercial Mixes have blended combinations of seeds.  This is an advantage that produces a lawn that may meet all the needs of the buyer.  A grass seed that is cold tolerant but doesn’t like heat is mixed with a seed that is heat tolerant.  At the same time seeds may be mixed to grow lawns in sun and shade, for extensive use, for green color in winter, for growing fast or slow, or any number of other requirements.

Overseeding and Repair may sometimes be necessary for the most well-cared for lawns.  Over time, your lawn can become weak and thin from wear and tear with lots of soil waiting to invite weeds to move in. Special seed mixes provide appropriate seeds, fertilizer, and soil improvements to bring that lawn back to a strong, lush green condition.  Sometimes you just need to fill in those yellow spots the dogs watered. High nitrogen and salts in the urine kill the grass.  Look for a product made for dog spot repair which neutralizes the salts and protects the new grass seedlings that emerge.

Your local extension office is a good resource on grass seed mixes and soil conditions in your area.

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