Choosing the right grass seed for your lawn is critical to your success – and your long term satisfaction. Knowing what type of seed to plant is of utmost importance and buying the right stuff the first time can save you a lot of money. But first, what should you NOT plant? That’s right, there is some grass seed you need to avoid.
Below is a list of seeds you need to watch out for when you’re in the store searching for grass seed. In other words, if you see these seeds on the store shelf, keep walking by.
Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue
Ironically, Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue is the number one sold grass seed in America every year (thank you, “big box” stores) – and also the number one identified weed.
Be very careful here. Just because the bag of seed has the word “Kentucky” on it doesn’t mean that it’s bluegrass or that it’s pretty – or that you should be planting it. Check the seed tag to be sure what you’re buying. Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue is great for playgrounds, roadsides, and ditch banks – basically anywhere you need a super tough, drought tolerant grass – and you don’t care what it looks like.
The great thing about Kentucky 31 is that it grows really well and is hard to get rid of. The bad thing about Kentucky 31 is the same as the good thing; it grows really well and is hard to get rid of. It’s ugly. It’s got a thick, coarse leaf. Do not plant Kentucky 31 – especially if you’re in a cool season grass zone.
The consumer gets duped here quite a bit. If you plant annuals in your flower bed, you have to plant them again next year. The same is true for grass seed. An annual ryegrass will produce seed heads during the summer and then die. It will not last very long in your lawn.
There is a reason that some bags of grass seed are a lot cheaper than some of the other bags – because so often they are filled with annual ryegrass. Companies put annual ryegrass in the bag to make it cheaper. That may be why your lawn is still brown. It’s not coming back. Don’t get fooled again.
VNS Grass Seed
VNS is short for “variety not stated.” VNS means that you have no idea which variety the seed company put in the bag. If the seed tag states “VNS Perennial Ryegrass,” the only thing you know is that you’re buying perennial ryegrass. You don’t know the quality, the color, the disease resistance, or anything else about that seed.
In fact, VNS ryegrass may not even be lawn seed at all. It may be pasture grass that you’re buying. It’ll have a thicker blade and be much taller. But at least the cows grazing in your yard will like it. If at all possible, stay away from VNS.
Although common bluegrass is not bad and actually can be very pretty, it’s much like VNS ryegrass. You simply don’t know what you’re getting in terms of quality. These bluegrasses will be designated either 98/85 or 85/80, which represents their purity and germination, respectively. So the 98/85 common bluegrass is 98% pure (very clean, only a little weed seed) and right around 85% of it will germinate. Usually, it’s more than that, but it will be at least 85%.
Although these bluegrasses are okay, there are so many more improved and beautiful varieties on the market that will perform much better in your lawn. You should choose those instead.
Coated Grass Seed
While some seed coating is unavoidable due to supply issues, do your best to purchase raw grass seed. It’s what professional landscapers all across the states plant.
The bags of “seed” that a lot of the big box stores sell are filled with heavy seed coating and mulch material. The amount of seed you get in the bag is very small.
You’re better off buying raw seed and grabbing a bag of Penn Mulch to use for your mulch.
This is a good place to give a shout-out to the locally owned landscape, garden center, and co-ops that are in your town. These are the places you’ll find the personnel with the knowledge to help you know what’s best for your area.