As fall approaches many of us will be considering what grass seed to buy to re-seed our summer ravaged lawn. Since lawns are generally large in size and sometimes a lot to take care of, some feel the grass seed is not that important. How many of you have been tempted or bought a bargain brand of cheap seed and found out the results were so poor that you wasted a lot of energy preparing the lawn? Come on, you can admit it that perhaps you tried it once and it failed. Ben Franklin once said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” You wouldn’t buy the cheapest house paint so please DO NOT buy cheap grass seed!
Grass seed is available in many different sizes, brands and quality. Quality, what do you mean by quality? I thought grass seed was grass seed? Not so fast. Grass seed is a product of nature and is grown in fields just like other crops. Some grass seed farmers perhaps did not clear their fields of existing weeds very well before planting and these weed seeds make their way into even a small bag of grass seed. After the farmer harvests the new crop of grass seed each summer they clean the seed with sophisticated cleaners with many screens and blowers to remove certain size and weight weeds. However, some are better at cleaning seed than others; experience is worth a million bucks!
The physical cleanliness of the grass seed you buy is very important in order to keep unwanted weeds from establishing in your newly planted lawn. Have you ever looked closely at the analysis on a bag of grass seed? Be sure to look for low levels of weed seed, other crop seed and inert matter. Weed seeds can be grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds that are generally are not wanted in a lawn situation. Crop seed is defined as a crop grown for profit, but again not desired in your lawn. Crop seed could be timothy, corn, wheat, radish, you get the picture. Inert matter includes chaff, soil particles, etc. and should ideally be no more than 2.00%. Look for high levels of germination too. Acceptable levels of germination are greater than 80% and many times higher than 90%. The germination percent means the grass has been grown out in a seed laboratory and the reported germination grew. If the grass seed is labeled at 90% germination and you did not get a very good stand of grass in a month or so, why do we always blame the seed? Sometimes we hear that the seed must be bad. Almost all of the time the grass seed is not the problem, it involves poor soil preparation or using the wrong grass seed mixture in the wrong environment.
Grass seed genetics involves a lot of time and breeding expertise. Many breeders come from leading universities or are independent breeders. The ultimate grass seed breeder was Dr. C. Reed Funk from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Dr. Funk was able to revolutionize the grass seed industry by improving all characteristic in lawn grasses in order to produce better turf quality. These improvements over time included darker color, lower growing, heat and drought and disease resistance. He even discovered endophytes in certain grass families. Endophytes are a naturally occurring fungus within the tissue of the grass plant that produces alkaloids that many lawn insects do not like and therefore creates a natural insect resistance in the plant. These characteristics including endophytes can be found in our Black Beauty family of grass seed mixtures. These improvements helped many homeowners have a more care-free lawn. We did say more care-free, not the perfect grass, which may never happen due to so many conditions Mother Nature keeps throwing at us.
If you are going to properly prepare your lawn for seeding we all know this involves a lot of time and sweat. Be sure to choose the best and buy quality Jonathan Green grass seed this fall. Your local independent garden center or hardware store can recommend the best mixture for your lawn. These stores have been selling seed for years and know from positive feedback which grass seed works best in your area. Good luck with your seeding!