When you’re a homeowner, you want everything to look pristine (you know, the white picket fence and the whole nine yards).
Speaking of yards, we want that to look good, too. After all, it doesn’t make us feel all too good when our neighbors have vibrant green grass and we have something more akin to burnt-orange hay. (Related: Best lawn mowers and best robot lawn mowers).
That’s where grass seed comes in. Before you freak out and think, “I have no green thumb whatsoever,” we’re here to help. There isn’t much of a learning curve if you research it well enough before getting started — and that’s exactly what we did, for you.
“Grass seed can improve your lawn’s appearance by filling in bare spots and addressing thinning areas,” Marc Mayer, director of technical operations at TruGreen, told the New York Post. “Lawns can go through stressful periods throughout the summer months and often require some help to build up density as it goes into the winter.”
As a bonus, filling empty spaces also helps crowd out encroaching weeds, reduces soil erosion and gives you lawn a uniform appearance. “Seeding is most commonly performed in cool season grass markets, which include grass-types like Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Ryegrass and Fine Fescue,” he adds.
Ahead, we assembled an in-depth FAQ section answering your common asks about using grass seed in different climates, understanding which ones to buy, how to properly use them and more. Additionally, our experts pulled the 8 best grass seeds to purchase for your specific lawn needs (for some cutting-edge curb appeal, may we add).
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Best All-Season Grass Seed
1. Vigoro 3 lbs. Fast Grass Seed Mix
“If you’re looking for a grass seed that works in any region, we recommend the Vigoro 3 lbs. Fast Grass Seed Mix,” Nick Wren, merchant of fertilizers and seed at The Home Depot, told The Post. Not only is it budget-friendly at less than $15 but it helps germinate fast and, the best part? If you have sunny or shady patches alike, it’ll help repair them as well.
Best for Warm-Season Grass
1. Scotts Turf Builder 4 lbs. Rapid Grass Bermudagrass Mix
According to Wren, Bermudagrass fills in quickly and its aggressive growth is helpful to resist weeds. “It flourishes with the full sunlight in the warmer regions of the Southeast United States,” he adds.
The Turf Builder 4 lbs. Rapid Grass Bermudagrass thrives in warm sunny areas and is guaranteed to grow.
2. Scotts Turf Builder 5 lbs. Grass Seed Argentine Bahiagrass for Excellent Heat & Drought Resistance
“Bahia can be found on some lawns from Florida through the southern Coastal Plans and the Texas Gulf Coast, where resilience in turf grass is needed,” Wren explains.
For a helpful treatment, he recommends the Scotts Turf Builder 5 lbs. Grass Seed Argentine Bahiagrass for Excellent Heat & Drought Resistance because it’s designed for full sun and has a course bladed texture with high drought resistance.
3. Scotts Turf Builder 5 lbs. Grass Seed Centipede Grass Seed & Mulch to Grow a Thick, Low-Maintenance Lawn
“Centipede grass is popular throughout the Southern United States for its slow-growing and low-maintenance traits, even in poor soil,” Wren says.
For this grass type, specifically, use the Scotts Turf Builder 5 lbs. Grass Seed Centipede Grass Seed & Mulch Grows a Thick, Low-Maintenance Lawn because it thrives in sandy, acidic soils and sunny areas. “It combines mulch and seed to grow a thick, low-maintenance lawn,” he notes.
4. Scotts EZ Patch Lawn Repair for St. Augustine Lawns
“St. Augustine grass grows quickly and tolerates the heat and humidity of the South,” Wren says. “It also isn’t bothered much by salt, making it a good choice for coastal lawns.”
The recommended treatment? Scotts’ EZ Patch Lawn Repair for St. Augustine Lawns. “It offers a brand new way to repair bare spots in your St. Augustine-grass lawns,” he adds.
Best for Cold-Season Grass
1. Vigoro 20 lbs. Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend with Water Saver Seed Coating
“Fescue has many varieties and textures that can thrive in mild winters and warm summers,” Wren shares.
What’s great about the Vigoro 20 lbs. Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend with Water Saver Seed Coating is that it provides dense grass even on tough lawns and thrives in both sunny and shaded areas.
2. Scotts Turf Builder 5.6 lbs. Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix with Fertilizer and Soil Improver to Grow Dense, Green Turf
According to Wren, Kentucky Blue Grass (KBG) is an elite species that grows dense, green turf and grows best in full sun and light shade. “KBG has medium drought resistance with high durability,” he adds.
Wonderfully, the Scotts Turf Builder 5.6 lbs. Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed is expertly crafted to grow dense, green and establish deep roots.
3. Scotts Turf Builder 2.4 lbs. Grass Seed Perennial Ryegrass Mix with Fertilizer and Soil Improver — Establishes Grass Quickly
Rye Grass establishes quickly and grows best in full sun and light shade, according to Wren. “It has great disease resistance and good drought tolerance.”
He recommends the Scotts Turf Builder Perennial Rye Grass, as it can be used to seed a new lawn or over-seed an existing lawn. “For best results, apply in the spring or fall when daily average soil temperatures are consistently between 55°F and 70°F, or air temperatures are between 60°F and 80°F,” he advises.
An FAQ on Grass Seeds
Ahead, our team of fertilization experts dish out all the details (and we mean all of them) so you can feel confident about manicuring your lawn to near-perfection.
What are the benefits of using grass seed?
Planting grass seed is an economical way to start a lawn or restore your existing landscape. Successful results require planning preparation of your soil and good seed that’s suitable for your region — above all else.
“A well-maintained lawn offers benefits beyond adding natural beauty to your home,” Wren told The Post. “Healthy lawns reduce soil erosion, absorb rainfall, help filter ground water, improve air quality and produce much-needed oxygen.”
What’s more, grass seed is an excellent fix for brown or barren spots. “Concentrate the seed on bare patches left by old weeds or thinned out by walking,” he instructs. “To make sure your lawn is one beautiful shade of green, make sure to match your grass seed type to the existing grass in your lawn.”
How often do you use grass seed?
Paired with the task of aeration in late summer heading into the fall — August through October — over-seeding can help ensure a healthy, thicker lawn that naturally helps prevent weeds.
Why is the fall the best time to over-seed your lawn? “In the fall, the soil temperatures are higher, which helps to speed up seed germination and plant establishment,” Mayer explains, “As temperatures cool down in the fall, you tend to have less weed pressure, which gives a young grass plant time to mature.”
The second-best time to seed is in the spring, but you can only carry out this process if you don’t apply a pre-emergent weed control product. “In the spring, you also have a lower success rate since soil temperatures are cooler, and new grass plants don’t have enough time to establish a mature root system before the summer heat arrives,” Mayer adds. “This lawn maintenance task can thicken lawns and make them more attractive, but it’s hardly just a matter of throwing the best grass seed onto the lawn.”
Additionally, most lawns each year need some seeding in order to fill in voids left by summer conditions, so Mayer suggests homeowners consider a professional service in tandem with independent grass-seeding as part of a well-balanced lawn program, “delivering new and improved varieties of grass on a yearly basis,” he notes.
How to use grass seed, step-by-step
Ahead, Wren shared easy-to-follow tips to ensure you’re planting with the greenest thumb possible.
Before starting, be sure to note your county’s Cooperative Extension Service can provide a thorough analysis of your soil and provide information on how to plant grass in your locality. Or, you can use a soil test kit to check the pH levels in your yard.
Pro tip: Soil test results may recommend adding lime to adjust an acidic pH in the soil. Certain areas of the country, like the Southeast, tend to have acidic soils that are usually treated with lime to the bring the pH closer to neutral.
Step 1: Prepare the Soil
First, target the problem areas and prepare the soil. After, remove all debris and any wood, stones or large roots.
Use a spade or garden rake to scratch the soil 1 to 2 inches at the surface, removing any remaining roots or debris.
Add new soil to the top of your existing soil and smooth with the rake.
If you are not using additional soil, add starter grass fertilizer on top of the existing soil with a spreader.
Step 2: Sow Grass Seed
After the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant grass seeds. A lawn spreader is necessary for uniform growth of the new grass. In large areas, you can use either a broadcast or drop spreader for uniform coverage. In smaller areas, you may use a hand spreader. Use a rake to cover the seeds lightly with soil.
Step 3: Tamp the Seed
Fill a lawn roller with water or sand to add weight, then go over the top of the area to tamp the seed down. This will help with erosion and will keep the birds from eating the seed.
Cover the area with a shallow layer of wheat straw to hold the seeds in place and help them retain moisture.
Pro tip: If you live on a slope, you may want to use a seed mat to prevent the seed from washing away.
Step 4: Water the Lawn
A properly watered lawn is important for growing grass. Watering helps build strong roots for a tougher lawn.
Soak the soil 4 to 6 inches deep immediately after seeding. For new seeds, a gentle approach is key. Use a sprinkler or hand sprayer with a mist setting to avoid washing away soil and seed.
Depending on weather conditions, follow up with daily or twice daily watering until the seeds are well established.
It’s important to never let the seed dry out as this inhibits germination. It takes a minimum of seven to 14 days for seed to germinate, and much longer for warm-season grasses (up to 30 days for grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia).
Until seedlings are visible, lightly water with a sprinkler as often as three to four times a day until the grass is about a half-inch high.
Once you can mow the lawn, water at a rate of an inch per week to keep the grass roots healthy. It is more important to water deeply and less frequently than to water for shorter periods every day. This will allow the roots to grow down and will help grass survive in drought conditions.
When to plant grass seeds for each climate, per fertilization experts
Of course, timing is everything. “Before finding the best grass seed, the first step to growing a healthy green lawn is to know when to plant,” Mayer explains. “As with any plant, this depends largely on where you live and the type of grass you plan to grow.”
- Best time to plant cool weather grasses: Late summer through early fall when soil temperatures are around 55-60 degrees and air temperatures are around 70-75 degrees. This period historically includes a higher chance of rainfall, which will help keep the soil moist, which aids in germination and provides enough daylight to ensure that the grass thrives in enough time to out-compete weeds and survive a cold winter.
- Best time to plant warm weather grasses: Warm season turf types like Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, and St. Augustine are typically not overseeded but established using sprigs, plugs, or sod. The best time to plant is in late spring or early summer during grass’ most active growing period in temperatures averaging about 80 degrees. Even in these perfect conditions, germination rates are typically lower when warm-season grass seed is utilized.
How do I choose the proper grass seed for my lawn?
Choosing the right grass seed is an important part of learning how to plant grass.
“Select your grass seed carefully, as different types of grass grow better in differing parts of the country,” Wren explains. “In the Garden Center and online, look for grass seed mixes that target your specific climate and growing conditions.”
It’s important to note that types of grass seed mixes are available that offer drought-resistant grass seed types. Other mixes can help repair damaged lawns.
How long does it take for grass to grow after the first time the seed is planted?
“In most cases, seeding and overseeding can completely transform your yard in just a few weeks by following the simple steps above,” Mayer shares. “Germination typically takes anywhere from 10 to 30 days, with full roots established within one to three months.”
Remember that new seedlings cannot withstand foot traffic or other stress for several months, so try to stay off the grass as long as possible.
How to care for grass over time, per fertilization experts
Once your grass is established, taking care of the lawn still requires a good lawn mower, selecting the right fertilizer, monitoring and treating the lawn for pests like weeds, insects, and disease and, most importantly, the willingness and time to put in the work.
However, this DIY approach can prove costly if you don’t do your homework, according to Mayer.
On that note, it’s best to understand grass for your climate. Warm season and cool season grasses have different fertilizer needs, for example.
“Warm season grasses thrive in warm-weather regions, such as the southern United States,” Wren says. “It’s best to feed warm season grasses in warm weather as they grow most actively during the heat of summer.”
On the flip side, cool season grasses do best where there are extreme temperature fluctuations, such as those in the North, Northeast and Pacific Northwest. “In the North, where cool-season grass types are popular, lawns need to be fed four times a year with each feeding six to eight weeks apart,” he adds. “If your lawn is still green and actively growing in the summer, you can continue to feed it throughout the summer months at the same rate.”
However, if your grass turns brown during summer heat and drought, temporarily stop feeding until it starts to grow and turn green again in the early fall.
More, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fertilizer. “Adding too little isn’t economical, but adding too much can actually burn your lawn,” he adds. “Spread the fertilizer as directed and water afterward.”
For the fastest start to your lawn, fertilize after sowing seeds.
Pro tip: For best results, follow package directions to grow grass in your lawn. While you may get some germination from throwing seed on the ground, you’ll get best results when you prep the soil, disperse the seed and follow through with fertilizer and water.
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