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Choose the Best Warm Season Grass Seed

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

If you're planting grass this year, choosing the right grass seed can make the difference between a lawn that thrives and a lawn that you have to replant next season. For warm season lawns--types of grass best suited to the country's milder climates--here are the three most important questions to ask about your yard and the types of grass seed best suited to each answer. With the right grass seed, all your hard work in planting grass won't go to waste!
How would you like to improve your lawn?
  • Make it greener
  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
Do you own your home?
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How shady is your yard? Is grass seed even an option?

No turfgrass thrives in deep, deep shade, so if your yard is truly shady all day long you should look for alternatives to planting grass, like shade-loving ground covers. If your yard is moderately shady, though, planting grass is still an option. The warm season favorite, Bermuda grass, has very low shade tolerance. Zoysia grass is much better in the shade, or if you are willing to use a vegetative start (sod or plugs), St. Augustine is the best of all.

What's your traffic situation?

If your yard is going to get lots of wear and tear – from kids, from pets, from garden parties galore, whatever--planting grass that can stand up to that kind of heavy traffic is critical. Bermuda grass holds up well. Zoysia grass will do fine too, but planting Centipede grass seed would be a mistake. Its traffic resistance is low and it will look very worn very quickly.

Are you planting grass you won't mind tending to?

The warm season grasses vary greatly in how much attention they need from you in order to do well. Are you looking for a low maintenance lawn that will basically do the trick or a lawn that, with some TLC, will be the jewel of the neighborhood? Planting Centipede grass is a good option if you want low maintenance. Zoysia grass seed is a nice middle-of-the-road choice, but Bermuda grass needs lots of attention--plenty of fertilizer, lots of mowing--in order to look its best.

Plant the right grass seed and you'll get much better results. Answer these questions and you're on your way!

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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