What seed to use for your lawn

Fri. Aug. 11, 2017

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  What seed to use for your lawn

Depending on where you live this question is answered differently.  We talked about overseeding your lawn but what’s the best mix for you?  There are blends and there are mixtures.  A blend is the same type of grass but different cultivars.  A mix has 2 maybe 3 different varieties of grasses for cultural diversity.  In other words, for lawns that have differing sun/shade conditions.  The best recommendation is to figure out what you’ve got and then go to your local nursery and ask them what they would suggest OR your local county extension OR certainly, your local Master Gardeners.  The University of Minnesota Extension has a very comprehensive article “Selecting Cool Season Lawn Grasses”. 

lawn prep

lawn prep

repaired lawn

repaired lawn

In Minnesota (climate zone 3,4 and some 5), Kentucky Bluegrass is used most often because it’s pretty, it’s adaptable, cold tolerant and is generally able to recuperate from drought.

Grass - Kentucky Blue

However, there are always drawbacks to using just one type of any plant.  Diversity is a good thing as one type may have an issue one year, another can “take over” to keep your lawn looking good.

Other grass species include perennial ryegrass.  It’s a great germinator and quick to establish, which helps protect the other seeds, but it’s not real tolerant of our cold winters and summer heat, so use only about a 25% mix.

Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass

Fine fescues is a category of about five different species that are often mixed together. These species include hard fescue, slender and strong creeping red fescue, Chewings fescue, and sheep fescue. Like perennial ryegrass, the fine fescues germinate very quickly. Fine fescues are often the best performing species in drought trials and no-mow turf situations. They are also adapted to shade or full sun.

Fine leaved fescue

Fine leaved fescue

And last is tall fescue – a coarse grass that has high traffic tolerance.  Something to think about if you have children that might play games on the lawn.  Again, there are lots of pictures and lots more information on the University of Minnesota Extension site “Selecting Cool Season Grasses”.    They’ve put a lot of effort into turf trials and you can see their results.  They continue testing grass types at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum as well.  Planting Grass Seed Center – University of Wisconsin.  Minnesota and Wisconsin have very similar climates and natives species.   Although the extreme northern portion of Minnesota and the southern portion of Wisconsin are a few climate zones apart.

lawn with bench 2