Find The Best Grass Seed: The Ultimate Comparison Guide!
Wow – looking for the right grass seed sure is hard! The goal of this guide is to help you pick the best grass seed for your application and answer some of the following questions:
- What type of seed should you use and when should you put it down?
- What is the difference between warm and cool season seed?
- How much water should you use and what are the best tools to spread the seed?
- Do you need to put down new soil and fertilizer?
- How to protect your new grass seed.
- Most importantly when is your grass going to start to grow!
Grass Seed Comparison Chart:
Traffic Level Wear
|Turf Builder Pacific Northwest Mix||Scotts||Low||Medium||Medium||$$$||5|
|"Kentuckey 31" Tall Fescue||Pennington||Low||Medium||Medium||$$$||5|
|Drought Tough Mix||Jonathan Green||Low||High||Medium||$$||5|
|Turf Builder Fall Mix||Scotts||Low||Medium||Medium||$$$||5|
|Turf Builder Heat Tolerant Bluegrass Mix||Scotts||Low||Medium||Medium||$$||5|
|Smart Seed Fescue Bluegrass||Pennington||Low||Medium||Medium||$$||5|
|Shady Nooks Mix||Jonathan Green||Low||Medium||Low||$$||4.5|
|Turf Builder High Traffic||Scotts||Low||High||Medium||$$||4|
|Dense Shade Mix||Jonathan Green||Low||Low||Low||$$||3.5|
|Turf Builder Dense Shade Mix||Scotts||Low||Medium||Medium||$$||3.5|
|Smart Seed Sun and Shade Mix||Pennington||Low||Medium||Medium||$||3.5|
|Heat and Drought Mix||Bonide||Medium||Medium||Medium||$||2|
|Sun and Shade Mix||Barenbrug||Medium||Medium||Medium||$||Not Rated|
|Turf Builder Kentucky Bluegrass Mix||Scotts||Low||Medium||Medium||$$||Not Rated|
Included in the chart are the following:
- Name - Name of the brand’s seed
- Brand - Manufacturer
- Water Needed – How much water the seed/grass requires
- Traffic Level Durability – Is the seed handle high traffic areas
- Sun Necessary – The amount of sun needed for the seed to grow. Some seeds do better in full sun and others in shade.
- Price – Prices are found on Amazon.com
- Ratings – Based on customer reviews found on Amazon.com
Note: This chart only included the most popular brands and types of seed, you can see our full comparison chart here.
When should you put your new grass seed down?
Typically the fall is the best time of year to plant new grass seeds. Why? Well because in the fall, the ground usually still warm from the summer, but the air is cooler and will not dry out the soil as quickly. The days are still warm, but the nights cool off, making perfect conditions to grow grass. Of course, it’s also the perfect time of year to grow weeds too – another reason to pick a high quality seed :).
If you live in a warm climate and plan on putting down warm season seed, you probably want to plant in the late spring.
It’s also a good idea to put compost down with your new seed if possible. Compost will help to break up the soil (especially clay) and add organic content.
What is the difference between warm and cool season seed?
Warm season grasses are like hot and warm weather and cool season grass tolerates both warm and cold weather. Seems pretty obvious, but many people get confused.
The most common type of cool season grass is Kentucky Bluegrass. Perennial rye-grass is also widely used in areas that require extra durability. Fescue grass seed is used in areas that are drought and heat prone. Cool season grass seed like to be planted in the fall.
Bermuda grass is by far the most popular warm season grass. It is used on golf courses in the south, but is also an excellent choice for lawns. It is fairly low maintenance, requires little water and is durable. It’s one downfall is it does not grow very well in shady areas.
How much water should you use?
Water. This is problem the most important step to growing grass seed. You can pick out the best seed for your climate, soil and application, but without the correct amount of water, your seed will not grow. You should apply enough water to soak the soil approximately 6 to 8 inches deep, but you do not want to drown the seeds either. Apply the water gently as you do not want to wash away the seed. Also, too much water may cause the seed to rot.
It is best to water often vs. putting down too much at once. You may have to water more often if you are trying to gross grass in a very sunny area.
A tell-tale sign that it’s time to water is the color of the soil. If the soil is light brown, it’s probably time to water.
What are the best tools to spread the seed?
This could be an entire guide of its own, but for now, here is a quick rundown of what we recommend.
Depending on how much area you need to seed, you may be able to sprinkle by hand, use a hand-held spreader or go with a broadcast spreader. Most of the time a push spreader is going to work best as it spreads the seed evenly. Make sure to check the bag of grass seed to set the proper spreader rate.
An effective way to make sure you haven’t left any bare spots is to crisscross directions of spreading. Walk one with the first path and then crisscross over for the second pass.
Do you need to put down new soil?
The short answer is usually no. Most of the time, raking and turning up the soil a bit will soften it and allow the grass seeds to grow easily. If your lawn is compacted or your soil is full or clay or rocks, then you should consider putting down some more soil. Depending on how bad of shape your soil is, you may be able to get away with just a thin layer of top soil. Scott’s makes lawn soil just for planting grass which works great, or you can get some from your local home and garden center – much cheaper usually.
Rolling your yard will ensure the seed has a solid foundation and provide good contact. Rolling will also help to prevent erosion.
When should you put down fertilizer?
It is recommended to put down starter fertilizer with the new seed. Starter fertilizer provides the nutrients that allow the grass seeds to grow, develop and build a strong root system. Some professional landscapers actually mix the started fertilizer in with the new seed prior to spreading to save time.
Most manufactures recommend giving the newly seeded area 6-8 weeks before putting down the normal lawn fertilizer. If you seed has not started to grow, then give it a few more weeks. Putting down fertilizer too soon (except started fertilizer) will kill the grass.
Lime, although not a fertilizer, is also good to put down at the time of seeding. Lime will help to neutralize acidic soil. You may want to pick up a lime test kit to see what the pH is for your lawn. Ideally, the pH should be between 6.5-7.
How to protect your new grass seed
You’ve seen that newly planted grass with straw on top of it. The problem with putting down straw is that sometimes it contains weeds – the last thing you want mixed in with your brand new seed! A good alternative is putting down a very thin layer of quality top soil. Staking out the area is also a good idea to warn people about the new seed.
When is your grass going to start to grow?
You’ve picked the best seed for your application, gave it just the right amount of water, check the soil and put down some start fertilizer…..now you want to know – when will my grass grow! If you’ve done all the above correct, you should start to see the seeds sprout after 7 days…sometimes more depending on your climate and type of grass that you have planted. Wait a few weeks to mow, the grass should be around 3 inches and fairly thick. It is advisable to leave the grass clippings on top of the grass to provide extra nutrients. Learn more about how to plant and grow seed here.
Did we miss anything?
Please let us know if you have any tips or tricks that you would like to add to picking the best grass seed, we’d love to hear from you!