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Choosing the Best Grass Seed

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

All grass seeds aren't created equal, and choosing the best seed doesn't just mean choosing the most expensive. Here's a guide for reading grass seed labels, with all the keys to picking a winning bag.

Start with Grass Type

Before you can get down to the nitty-gritty of comparing bags of seed, you have to narrow the field by choosing the type of grass you want to plant in general. The Grass Types section of this website is a great place to start.
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Play the Name Game

The main Grass Types aren't the end of the story. Each type has a multitude of sub-types, known as cultivars, each with slightly different characteristics. Once you know whether you're in the market for Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermuda grass, etc., look to see if the grass seed label names the particular cultivars. The names of the cultivars will give you more information if you want to know exactly what you're getting, but more than anything, listed cultivar names are an indication of higher quality bags of grass seed.

Annual Ryegrass? Not Unless You Want a Temporary Lawn

If you see annual Ryegrass listed among the grass seed types in a bag, move on. Unless you're looking for a short-term lawn, (like something that will stop erosion), annual ryegrass is a big mistake. The lawn will come in thick and healthy, but the annual ryegrass will die off after the first winter, leaving your lawn spotty and ripe for weed invasion.

The Fewer Weeds, the Better

Grass seed labels list the amount of "weed seed." Shocking to think you're planting weeds along with your new lawn, but that's the way it goes. Your goal is to get the lowest amount of weed seed possible. Never buy a bag of seed with more than .3% weeds.

Find the Date

Fresher bags of grass seed will have greater rates of germination.

Read the grass seed labels carefully, choose the winning bag, and then get on to the fun part--seeing that healthy new lawn come in!

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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