Spruce Up Your Garden with the Best Bermuda Grass Seed

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendation for best Bermuda grass seed is Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Bermuda Grass, which combines seed with the perfect fertilizer and mulch to create a lush, green lawn in a variety of soil types and regions. This mix helps weigh down Bermuda grass seeds so they are less prone to wash-away from rain, hilly areas, and wind. Additionally, the fertilizer and mulch will help your Bermuda grass get off to an optimal start, even in areas with excessive heat. That’s our favorite, but we’ve got some other great picks for you below.

Our Top 4 Best Bermuda Grass Seed Picks

#1 Scotts TurfBuilder Bermuda Grass Seed
Our rating
716AOQefi7L. AC SL1000
#2 The Dirty Gardener Majestic Turf Bermuda Grass
Our rating

#3 Pennington Seed Bermuda Grass
Our rating
51DKOoirfML. AC

#4 Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Bermuda Grass
Our rating
71ZQN6NENgL. AC SL1394

What Makes Bermuda Grass Different From Other Grasses?

Bermuda grass is known as one of the toughest grasses. It’s drought-resistant and can grow in a variety of locations and types of soil. When it’s maintained properly by watering, fertilizing, and mowing, it can create a hardy turf that’s perfect for sporting fields, golf courses, parks, and more.

Bermuda grass tends to look a little different than other grasses, too. The above photo shows a close-up of Bermuda grass and its unsightly seedheads with several prongs. Bermuda grass commonly sprouts these seedheads randomly throughout its green blades, but you can remedy this with consistent mowing.

Advantages of Bermuda Grass Lawns

According to David M. Kopec, a turfgrass specialist, Bermuda grass is a grass with several advantages. This type of grass has an extensive root system that allows it to grow in a variety of soils and climates. You may notice Bermuda grass turn brown in dry weather, but it quickly reverts to lush green blades with purple tips after a thorough watering or rainfall.

Bermuda grass grows rapidly, which makes it perfect for homeowners who want a tough lawn in a short amount of time. Since it spreads so quickly through its root system, it helps to crowd out weeds in your yard with its dense sod formation.

Additionally, bermuda grass needs very little water, so it’s perfect for those who live in regions with little rainfall. It also resists extreme heat and cold well, resists several insects and disease, and works to cover its own bare spots quickly.

Disadvantages of Bermuda Grass Lawns

Of course, some disadvantages come with using bermuda grass, too. In fact, its extensive, fast-growing root system can become a disadvantage to those who have gardens. If you aren’t careful about your placement of Bermuda grass, you may end up with it invading your low-lying plants, like strawberries.

Bermuda grass can also be very difficult to kill, if needed. So, for instance, if your bermuda grass does happen to take over your flower beds, you may have a difficult time getting rid of it. In this case, a herbicide may be in order, but you’ll have to find one that won’t affect your plants. You may even need to apply it several times over the course of a month to kill unwanted Bermuda grass (source).

Where Does Bermuda Grass Grow Best?

You’ll find that many southern regions prefer Bermuda grass for lawns. It’s a warm season grass, which makes it perfect for regions with warm weather for most of the year.

Additionally, since Bermuda grass can handle drought conditions and salt water intake, areas with little rainfall, tropical, and coastal areas can still grow beautiful lawns of Bermuda grass. An exception to this is the state of Florida, which is prone to sting nematode infestations, a pest that Bermuda grass can not seem to ward off.

Bermuda grass does best where it has plenty of room to spread its root system. Large yards are the perfect setting for Bermuda grass. If you have several garden areas, Bermuda grass may not be your best choice, since it can invade your gardens. Consider installing raised beds that will keep Bermuda grass separate from your plants.

Bermuda grass needs full sun, so shady yards aren’t ideal. Since this type of grass doesn’t need a lot of water to thrive, full sun helps dry excess water to prevent disease and wilting. If your yard has low-lying areas that pool water, your Bermuda grass may not survive in those areas where water doesn’t drain well.

However, there are hybrid varieties of Bermuda grass that adapt well to conditions common Bermuda grass doesn’t. Hybrid varieties can survive colder temperatures, are more resistant to flooding, and may lose less green color through drought conditions (source).

Growing Bermuda Grass Successfully

You should plan on planting Bermuda grass in the spring, after temperatures remain consistently warm in warm-weather areas. Fortunately, you won’t have to do much soil preparation, as Bermuda grass tolerates most types of soil. Consider purchasing a Bermuda seed mix of different common seeds and hybrids to have the best chance of germination.

However, you will want to rake your area you’ll be seeding to make it even and smooth for even distribution of seeds. Gardening Know How suggests using one pound of Bermuda grass per 1,000 square feet of yard space, since it spreads quickly on its own.

Use a spreader or your hands to spread seed going lengthwise, and then crosswise, for even distribution. Your seeds will germinate anywhere from 5 to 14 days. Overseeding is usually not necessary for Bermuda grass, as it works hard to fill in its own gaps.

It’s also a good idea to have a solid soil in place already. Here’s a good soil guide to get you started.

Caring for a Bermuda Grass Lawn

Bermuda grass is one of the most low-maintenance types of grasses, making it perfect for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time caring for their lawns.

Still, there are a few important things to do to care for your Bermuda grass lawn. This video by Sod Solutions explains the three most important summer maintenance tips for Bermuda grass:

A slow-releasing nitrogen fertilizer is ideal for this type of lawn, which you should use about 6 weeks after planting. If you don’t fertilize at this time, fertilize in the summer.

Bermuda grass needs only one or two deep waterings each week, depending on the rainfall and humidity in your area. Allow your grass to reach about two inches before mowing.

Our Recommendation: Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Bermuda Grass

Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Bermuda Grass is the perfect, guess-free solution for those who want to grow Bermuda grass. This mix contains mulch, fertilizer, and Bermuda grass seed, perfectly mixed to leave the guesswork off of you.

This particular blend is helpful for those in windy areas, such as coastal regions, because the mulch helps to firmly root the seed in your soil.

You’ll also benefit from this blend if you’re planting the grass on a hilly area or an area prone to seed wash-away from rainfall or water drainage.

Although Bermuda grass typically grows in a variety of locations, excessive heat can prevent it from germinating or turning the lush green that you want from your lawn.

Since this formula has mulch and fertilizer added, the seed remains more protected from high heat and, therefore, can grow in more locations than regular Bermuda grass seed.

After planting this seed, give it a thorough watering. Continue to keep your seed well-moistened until grass blades grow about two inches tall, and then you can resume a normal watering schedule.

Since this seed is mixed with other components, you will need to purchase more than you would seed alone. Scotts recommends 3.75 pounds of this mix for every 85 square feet of yard space.

Photo by Matt Lavin licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Best Grass Seed for NC Gardens

Last update: April 16, 2021

The best grass seed for NC is (in our humble opinion) Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend. Since North Carolina has three regions with different soils and weather patterns, not all varieties will thrive in the three regions. However, this tall fescue blend has a hybrid mix of tall fescue seeds that are more resistant to heat and drought than common tall fescue seeds, making it a good choice for all three regions. Check out our list below for other great options for NC grasses.

Our Top 5 Recommendations for Best Grass Seed for North Carolina

#1 Jonathan Green Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed
Our rating
51Dsp9Fu45L. AC
#2 Pennington Smart Seed Perennial Rye Blend Grass Seed Mixture
Our rating

#3 Emerald Park Premium Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass
Our rating
71L5zOZhucL. AC SL1500

#4 Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend
Our rating
81apSqb0qiL. AC SL1500

North Carolina Regions

It’s important to understand the regions of North Carolina, since some grasses grow better in one region than they do the others.

North Carolina has three regions. The state is unique in that its regions all have different climates and soil properties. The regions include the Mountains, the Piedmont, and the Coastal Plains.

The Mountains region has cooler weather than the others, so a cool-season grass does best in this region. The Coastal Plains region is best for warm-season grasses that can tolerate salty air. The Piedmont region’s climate is a mix of the two, so some warm-season and cool-season grasses can grow here.

What Types of Grasses Grow Best in North Carolina?

The best grass seed for NC highly depends on the region you’re growing in. This will determine whether you need a cool-season or warm-season grass.

However, there are a few grasses that can work well in more than one region, and may actually give you the best chance at germination since they’re more easy-going than other grasses.

Common Varieties of Grass to Plant in North Carolina

The best varieties of grass to plant in North Carolina are those that can be planted in two different regions. Especially if you live in an area very close to the boundaries of another region and have more unpredictable weather, a grass that fares well in both regions may give you a better result.

According to Southern States, the following grass varieties are ones that can grow in more than one region of North Carolina, as they can withstand both warm and cool conditions, if necessary:

  • Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season variety that does well in both the Mountains and Piedmont regions of North Carolina. This type of grass is low-growing and tough, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas. It also can grow fairly well in shady areas, and can withstand mild heat.
  • Tall Fescue can also grow in all three regions. This variety has a high tolerance for cold weather and drought, and has a higher tolerance for heat than Kentucky bluegrass. It’s, perhaps, the most versatile variety for North Carolina residents to grow.
  • Bermuda grass is known for its tough blades that stand up to wear and tear, while still being low-maintenance, requiring little water, and easily-adaptable to its surroundings. This is a good variety for those in the Piedmont or Coastal Plains regions. This variety won’t grow well in shade, but does great in heat, drought, and high-traffic areas.

How to Choose the Best Variety for Your Lawn

Choosing the best type of grass to grow in your North Carolina lawn not only depends on your region, but also your desire for maintenance, budget, and the foot traffic your lawn receives.

North Carolina State University provides a handy chart that can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different varieties.

For example, if you want a low-maintenance grass that requires little watering and mowing, Centipede grass is a good choice for you if you live in the Coastal Plains or Piedmont regions. Or, if you live in the Piedmont or Mountains regions and need a lawn that grows fast, but stands up to heavy traffic, Kentucky bluegrass is perfect.

Growing Beautiful Lawns in North Carolina

If you live in the Coastal Plains of North Carolina, you likely have sandy soil. The Mountains usually have clay soil. This makes it tricky when learning how best to prepare your yard for growing grass in North Carolina. You have to understand your region and the type of soil you have.

Fortunately, there are a few general points to remember when preparing your site for new grass seeds (source):

  • If your area drains poorly, consider having a draining system professionally installed. If your lawn pools water, many types of grasses will become susceptible to disease from harbored bacteria.
  • Remove rocks and debris from the area. You don’t want anything standing in the way of your grass rooting and spreading to create a full, lush lawn.
  • For compacted soil, use a tiller to break it up and aerate it. This will help your grass seeds root, get water and nutrients, and spread.
  • Use a rake to even out the area after you till. Your seeds will then be more evenly distributed and grow at even heights.
  • Test the pH of your soil before you plant your seed. You can then determine if you need to amend the soil as per the requirements of your chosen grass variety.

When to Plant Grass Seed

Planting your seed, again, depends on your region and the variety you choose. Cool-season grasses, for example, which are usually grown in the Mountains region, are best planted in late summer or early fall.

Warm-season grasses that thrive in the Coastal Plans can be planted throughout the spring and into early summer. If you live in the Piedmont region, eHow suggests planting both a warm-season and a cool-season seed mix, starting in spring and overseeding in the fall, for a beautiful, year-round lawn.

If you’re new to the process of overseeding, check out this demonstration by Stanley Genadek, who uses pepper to demonstrate how to overseed your already-established lawn:

Caring for Your Lawn

Check the specific requirements for your variety against your normal weather patterns. Some varieties require more water than others, for example. If you live in an area with little rainfall, be prepared to give these varieties deep waterings one or two times per week.

Also check fertilization requirements and mowing suggestions. Over fertilizing and mowing can quickly kill off a beautiful lawn.

Our Recommendation: Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend

For beautiful North Carolina lawns, we suggest Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend. Tall Fescue can adapt to a wide range of weather and soil conditions, making it the perfect, versatile choice for North Carolina residents.

Technically, tall fescue grows best in Piedmont and Mountains regions, since it tolerates some heat and doesn’t need much water. However, this particular blend is a hybrid mix of tall fescue seeds that are more tolerant to heat than common tall fescue, making it a good choice for those in the Coastal Plains as well.

To care for your tall fescue lawn, keep your soil moistened about 4 to 6 inches down. An occasional deep watering is important for this variety, rather than watering frequently. You’ll need to fertilize it once in the spring, and twice again in the fall, a month or two apart.

If your area has particularly hot summers, you can allow your lawn to go dormant through the hottest part of the summer. It may begin to turn brown and will stop growing, but continue to water occasionally, about every two to three weeks (source).

Photo by Daderot licensed under CC0

How to Grow the Best Grass for Florida

Last update: April 1, 2021

Our pick for the best grass for Florida is Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix. This seed mix contains common and hybrid Bermuda grass seeds to allow a higher germination rate. This is perfect for Floridians, who often face difficulties when growing grass, due to excessive heat and challenging soil conditions. Bermuda grass needs just one deep watering per week, allowing the water to seep into the root system. If you like that one, we’ve got some other awesome Florida grass picks below.

Our Top 5 Picks for Best Grass for Florida

#1 Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
  • Contains several types of Bermuda grass seeds

  • Perfect choice for Floridians

  • Get early seeding success with less water

81pO7GEDQcL. AC SL1500
#2 Palmetto St. Augustine Grass Plugs
Our rating
  • Exceptional Shade Tolerance

  • Better color and texture than regular St. Augustine Plugs

  • Outstanding for commercial and residential usage

71vuR8SQkAL. AC SL1137

#3 TifBlair Centipede Grass Seed
Our rating
  • Coated seeds to improve germination

  • Extreme heat and cold tolerant

  • Covers up to 4,000 square feet


#4 Johnathan Green Full Sun Grass Seed Mixture
Our rating
  • Aids in deterring insect damage

  • Full sun grass seed mixture

  • Survives on south facing slopes and will not thin out

71O5bn wRL. AC SL1500

How is Florida Soil Different From Others?

According to Gardening Solutions, growing plants and grass in Florida can truly be a challenge for homeowners. Rather than soil, Florida is made of mostly a sandy component called Myakka, and it covers most of the state.

This poses a challenge for people who want a beautiful, green lawn, since most grasses thrive in fertile soil. To make it more difficult, the type of Myakka can vary throughout the state. In some areas, it’s extremely sandy, while in others, it has more of a clay-like texture.

Myakka is typically more compact than regular soil, giving plants and grasses less room to spread, breathe, and receive nutrients. Myakka also has a difficult time holding in moisture and nutrients from fertilizers.

How to Prepare Florida Soil for Grass

Since Florida doesn’t have optimal soil conditions for growing grass, it’s extremely important to prepare the soil to create optimal conditions for grass seed, sod, or plugs.

According to The University of Florida IFAS Extension, your first step should be having a professional soil analysis conducted. During this process, you’ll have your pH tested via a soil sample. The analysis will tell you, according to the pH, what type of amendments you should add to your soil, such as limestone, to decrease acidity.

Then, you should thoroughly rid your yard of debris, like weeds, rocks, and dead plant material. Use several applications of herbicide, if needed, to thoroughly control weeds. You also may need to consult a professional about irrigating and grading your yard to ensure that you have plenty of water for your lawn, but that water drainage from your lawn will not affect your home.

Add any amendments recommended during your soil analysis, and then till your yard at least 6 to 8 inches deep. This will help your amendments reach far into the soil to meet your grass’s root system.

Finally, rake over your yard to smooth out your soil to prepare for grass seed planting. Thoroughly water your soil before planting to help it settle and also moisten the soil several inches beneath the surface.

Alternative to Grass Seed: Planting Grass Plugs in Florida

Some homeowners in Florida choose to use grass plugs, rather than grass seeds, to establish their lawns. Since Florida doesn’t provide the optimal growing conditions for grass seeds to germinate, already-established grass plugs can help take out some of the guesswork by spreading, and establishing, themselves.

What, exactly, are grass plugs? They are usually circular, square, or rectangle-shaped pieces of sod that you plant an even amount of space apart from each other (source). Since each piece contains already-established grass, you don’t have to worry about trying to get your seeds to germinate at an amazing rate for a full lawn.

The closer you plant grass plugs, the faster your lawn will establish. The plugs will spread themselves through the soil to connect each piece together with grass. You’ll have spots of bare soil until this happens, but as long as your plugs are maintained well and you keep traffic to a minimum, you can see a full lawn in several weeks.

You can also make your own grass plugs from sod, as explained in this video from The Lawn Care Nut:

Better Homes and Gardens provides some helpful tips for establishing your lawn with grass plugs:

  • Plant as soon as possible after purchase, and keep plugs moist until you plant
  • Dig a hole for each plug, ensuring they’re spaced evenly
  • Keep plugs consistently moist with a deep watering as needed
  • Pull weeds between plugs as you see them appear
  • Mowing your plugs once grass reaches about 3 inches will trigger them to spread more

Common Types of Grass to Grow in Florida

According to Florida Landscaping Today, the following grasses are commonly grown in Florida. However, some grow better in certain areas of Florida than others, are more resistant to pets, provide more protection against wear, or have higher maintenance needs. Therefore, choose the best grass based on your most important factors and needs for your lawn.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is one of the most versatile, as it can grow in a wide variety of locations, soils, and weather conditions. Hybrid versions, especially, are extremely tolerable to drought, heavy traffic, and weeds. It also spreads and grows extremely fast, so it’s best for those who don’t want to wait long for an established lawn.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine is probably the most common grass in Florida. This variety is resistant to drought and can withstand excessive heat, making it a perfect fit for a Florida climate.

St. Augustine prefers full sun and heat to establish itself quickly and continue to grow. Most people choose to plant St. Augustine using sod or plugs to help it establish into its thick, green look it’s known for.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is a good choice for Floridians because it tolerates several types of soil, can grow in some shade, and resists most weeds. However, it isn’t drought-tolerant, and needs a lot of water and fertilization to grow and maintain itself.

Zoysia stands up to a good amount of traffic and can be mowed less often than other grasses once it’s established.

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is commonly used in Northern Florida, where temperatures at night remain a bit cooler. This grass requires less fertilization and maintenance needs than other grasses. In fact, over-fertilization will make the grass less tolerant to colder temperatures.

This grass can tolerate some shade, but it doesn’t tolerate heavy foot traffic.

Our Recommendation: Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix

Our pick for best grass for Florida is Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix. Bermuda grass is an extremely versatile grass that grows in a number of conditions, even the extreme heat of Florida. Plus, it establishes quickly and can give you a full lawn in the quickest time, if it’s maintained properly.

This particular Bermuda grass contains several types of Bermuda grass seeds, from common to hybrid. What this means is that it will give you the highest chance of germination for your Florida lawn, since some seeds may do better in your soil and weather conditions than others.

This is also the perfect choice for Floridians because it’s drought-resistant. You won’t have to worry about a constant water supply for your lawn, as Bermuda grass will withstand a short period of drought, and picks back up with its growth after a drought.

Additionally, Bermuda grass requires little maintenance. It stands up to high foot traffic and doesn’t need to be mowed often. Mow when your grass reaches about 3 to 4 inches. Water about once per week, or twice if you live in an area with extreme heat and little rainfall. A thorough, deep watering is best for Bermuda grass lawns.

Photo by Leonard J. DeFrancisci licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Tracking Down the Best Grass Seed for New Jersey

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendation for the best grass seed for NJ is Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix. If there is one thing you need to know when choosing grass seed for your lawn, it’s that all grass seeds are not the same. Some grasses do better in different parts of the country. If you want more options for NJ grass seeds, be sure to check out our other favorites in the following list.

Our Picks for the Best Grass Seed for NJ

#1 Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
61Ta7cy8zL. AC SL1000
#2 Pearl’s Premium Ultra Low Maintenance Lawn Seed
Our rating
81DAeTdu9WL. AC SL1500

#3 Jonathan Green Fall Magic Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
71GWd61cfHL. AC SL1000

What You Need to Know

Certain types of grass seed are better suited to different areas. Your choice depends on several factors, including the use that your lawn gets. For example, a yard that gets a lot of traffic will do better with a grass that can handle these demands such as fescue. Local conditions also influence your choice. Consider the amount of sun and shade your yard receives as well.

Hardiness Zone

Other things you need to know include the hardiness zone for your area. This measure tells you the minimum temperature extreme for your region. Some grasses can’t survive in places where the temperatures dip too far below freezing. The hardiness zones for New Jersey range from 6a to 7b. That means a minimum temperature range from -10 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

As you can see, it is a relatively broad range. Generally speaking, northern and interior portions of New Jersey fall into either the 6a or 6b zones. Southern and coastal areas are in transitional zones and are part of the 7a and 7b zones. You can use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone tool to further hone in on your conditions by zip code.

Cool-Season and Warm-Season Grasses

Grasses are broadly categorized into either cool or warm-season grasses. As a general rule of thumb, cool-season grasses do better in zones north of 7. These grasses, as the name suggests, can handle the extreme cold temperatures found in these regions. They include several fine-textured varieties like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and bent grass.

Warm-season grasses thrive in more southerly places. Unlike cool-season grasses, these varieties go dormant in the winter and go brown rather than staying green. They also have a coarser texture. Varieties include tropical-sounding ones like Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass. You can probably see now why knowing your area’s hardiness zone is necessary.

You can plant cool-season grasses directly from seeds. Or you can lay down sod of these grasses if you want to establish your lawn as quick as possible. Warm-season grasses, on the other hand, are better suited as sod or plugs rather than growing from seed. And while cool-season grasses often come in mixtures, warm-season grasses tend to be a single type.

Best Grasses for New Jersey

Because of the fact that large swaths of the state are in hardiness zone 7, cool-season grasses are a smart choice. The lower extreme temperatures don’t pose the same threat to these varieties as they do warm-season grasses. They offer a safe option if you’re not sure what you should pick.

However, you have some flexibility if you live in zone 6. Warm-season grasses may survive in these warmer conditions. If you live in these transitional areas, you should use the hardiness zone zip code calculator to determine if these choices are open to you. Your cooperative extension could offer some advice about the right grasses for your region.

This informative video from the University of Wyoming Extension walks you through the process of planting grass seed whether you’re starting from scratch or patching an existing lawn.

Pros and Cons of a Seed Mixture versus a Single Grass

When you shop for grass seed, you’ll likely see products that include a single grass species or a mixture of a few types. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages that vary with the type and local conditions. Differences exist from both aesthetic and lawn health perspectives. Give both of them consideration when choosing grass seed for your yard.


Seed mixtures offer some distinct advantages over a single variety. When you plant a few different kinds of grasses, you are, in essence, practicing a form of integrated pest management. This eco-friendly practice can keep your lawn healthy and intact if a disease or pest invades your space. The reason lies with the varying environmental requirements and hardiness.

A pest can wipe out an entire lawn of a single variety of grass. A mixture, on the other hand, gives your yard a fighting chance with varieties that have a range of vulnerabilities. Often, a pest is host-specific, meaning it prefers one species over another. A mixture of grass species increases the chances that some grasses will survive because they are resistant.

Another advantage comes from the different life cycles of grass varieties. A quick-growing grass like annual ryegrass can get established quickly and help prevent erosion, so the other grasses in your mixture have a chance to germinate and grow. The different growth patterns can, therefore, make it easier for your lawn to get established in a shorter amount of time.


While seed mixtures offer several benefits, there are some tradeoffs that may make you reconsider going this route. The cons are primarily aesthetic but may affect your choice if you have certain needs. It’s essential to consider these conditions if it could impact the health of your lawn.

On the downside, planting a mix of grasses will not give your lawn the uniform look that it would have had you stuck with a single type. That could also be an important consideration if you are trying to match your grass with a particular use or specific conditions like a yard with full sun. In these cases, you might prefer a single type of grass.

Our Recommendation: Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix

Local factors are certainly the trump card when it comes to choosing grass seed for your yard. Seed mixtures have a lot going for them that can make them an excellent choice for most situations. When it came down to it, we also placed a high value on a lawn with a uniform appearance. Fortunately, we didn’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for a healthy lawn.

Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix offers the best of both worlds. It includes a blend of four different varieties of Kentucky bluegrass which provides the consistent look we want along with a cool-season grass that is suited for northern climes. Even though it contains just bluegrass, a mix of varieties offers the advantages of using a blend of grasses.

The ideal grass for your lawn is hardy and needs minimal maintenance. If you choose a variety suited for your climate, you are well on your way to establishing a lush, healthy lawn. New Jersey is part of the transitional zone on the East Coast. Cool-season grasses like perennial ryegrass and fine fescues offer excellent choices that can handle the state’s cold winters.

Photo by HOerwin56 licensed under CC0.

How You Can Find the Best Grass for Texas

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendations for the best grass for Texas are Scotts S GLD Grass Seed and Zoysia Plug Tray. Scotts offers the convenience of a seed while Zoysia Plugs provide an affordable and easy way to get your lawn established quickly. The varying climates of Texas make choosing a grass confusing. However, with the help of the following list, we can get you set up nicely in your yard or garden.

Our Picks for the Best Grass for Texas

#1 Scotts S GLD Grass Seed
Our rating
71vG9lG23ZL. AC SL1468
#2 Zoysia Plug Tray
Our rating
71g3Il5UKAL. AC SL1500

#3 Pennington The Rebels Tall Fescue Shade Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
51DKOoirfML. AC

#4 Pennington Seed Bermuda Grass Seed
Our rating
51DKOoirfML. AC

What You Need to Know about Grass for Texas

As the second largest state in the Union, you probably would expect that the best grass for Texas is a complicated question. And you’d be right. It is so big that the USDA Hardiness Zone Map includes separate divisions for both east and west Texas. The state has eight climate types based on the Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification System.

The climate ranges from the hot and cold deserts of the western portions of the Panhandle to the Oceanic and hot Mediterranean and subtropical types of the east. Areas of cold and hot semi-arid climates add a bit diversity to the mix. That means that the best grass may not be as cut and dry as you may think.

East Texas

The East Texas part of the USDA Hardiness Zone Map spans zones from 7b to 10a or 5 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 7 is the delineation line between cool and warm-season grasses. And indeed, the transition zone divides the northern and southern regions. The transition zone is notoriously difficult to manage when it comes to grasses and other plants.

Essentially, you have to account for both extremes from areas that receive regular snow to those areas where snow is a rare event. Drought and heat will stress plants in regions that range from semi-arid to desert. And if that weren’t enough, there are also mountainous and coastal regions to make choosing a grass even more complicated.

West Texas

West Texas is equally diverse, with zones from 6b to 9a or -5 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Both East and West Texas have six hardiness zones. Like East Texas, the western portion of the state includes that important zone 7 delineation that will test homeowners seeking the best grass for Texas. Between the two, West Texas has the most variability.

Four Climate Zones

Texas includes four basic climate zones that can guide your choice of a suitable grass. They include:

  • South-central coastal plains
  • North-central plains
  • Great plains of north and northwest Texas
  • Trans-Pecos Mountain area

That means your choice of grass will include both cool and warm-season varieties, depending on your location within the state. If you can make any statement about Texas, it’s location, location, location. Where you live is the primary consideration for choosing the best grass for the state. The addition of a mountainous region adds a ripple to the mix.

Warm and Cool-Season Grasses

Because of the diversity of climatic conditions, both warm and cool-season grasses offer excellent choices, depending, of course, on your region. The terms warm and cool tell you what is the active growing period for a particular grass. Cool-season grasses see a growth burst in early spring, while warm-season grasses prefer the warmer months of late spring and summer.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses have a coarser texture that is best mowed at lengths under 1 inch. These grasses go dormant and turn brown during the winter months. While you can plant them as seeds, you’ll more likely find them as sod, sprigs, or plugs. They have tropical-sounding names like Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass along with the oddly named centipede grass.

Bermuda grass is a medium green-colored grass that has excellent tolerance to drought and heat. It can also handle a great deal of traffic. The gray-green buffalo grass is the only native turfgrass. It has similar tolerance levels as Bermuda grass with an excellent ability to handle colder temperatures.

Zoysia grass is suitable for both lawns and specialized uses like golf courses. While slow to get established, it offers better shade and wear tolerance than Bermuda or buffalo grass. It creates a lush carpet of grass that has a decent tolerance for the cold and wear. It is also salt tolerant, making it an excellent choice for coastal areas.

This video from the Nebraska Extension offers a detailed look at the pros and cons of growing Zoysia grass

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses see limited use in Texas, being confined mainly to the cooler panhandle region. These grasses have a finer texture than warm-season varieties. Their tolerance of heat, drought, and shade is variable as you may expect with grasses that are adapted to colder northern winters.

Bluegrasses and fescues have limited feasibility in Texas since they aren’t as tolerant of drought and heat conditions as warm-season grasses. However, they still offer a reasonable option in the panhandle areas of Texas where climatic conditions lean toward the cooler end of the spectrum. If you live in this region, you should certainly keep cool-season grasses on the table.

The Texas Challenge

Because Texas includes coastal regions, it presents another challenge for establishing and maintaining a lawn. Also, southeastern portions of the state may require the addition of lime to garden soils before planting grass due to the effects of ocean water and higher acidity levels. That means soil testing is crucial in these areas if you hope to succeed with growing a lawn.

You might want to consider testing a regular practice given the changing conditions. If your lawn becomes thin or turns brown, a soil test is a smart place to start to get your lawn back on the right track.

Our Recommendation: Scotts S GLD Grass Seed and Zoysia Plug Tray

When it came to picking our favorite, we knew that we had to go with two choices because of the size of Texas. Tolerance of a suite of environmental conditions was our top priority. Because of the cooler areas of the northern region, we looked for a cool-season grass that can handle climate extremes. We also opted for a warm-season grass for the southern parts of the state.

Scotts S GLD Grass Seed is a blend of tall fescue grasses that offers heat and drought tolerance as well as for the cold. Its versatility stood out as a grass that could thrive throughout the state. We were impressed with its development as “Bred in the south for the south.” Native plants are well-adapted to the climate. We also liked the fact that it can handle traffic well.

We selected the Zoysia Plug Tray as our warm-season grass pick. Since it comes as plugs, you can get a head start with a grass that can take some time to get established. We opted for Zoysia over Bermuda grass because of its superior shade tolerance.

The best grass for Texas depends primarily on where you live. For the northern regions, tall fescue is an excellent choice for a grass that is tolerant of a broad range of environmental conditions. For the southern part of the state, you can’t beat the dense turf and low maintenance that Zoysia grass provides. We have you covered in all parts of the state.

Photo by LoggaWiggler licensed under CC0.

Keep California Green with the Best Grass for SoCal

Last update: April 1, 2021

Our recommendations for the best grass for Southern California are Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix Bag and Jonathan Green Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed. Both southern and northern California have some of the most diverse ranges of climate in the country. That makes choosing the best grass a tall order. We love Scotts Turf for SoCal grasses, but read on to see some more great options.

Our Tops Picks for the Best Grass for Southern California

#1 Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix Bag
Our rating
  • Contains several types of Bermuda grass seeds

  • Perfect choice for Floridians

  • Get early seeding success with less water

81pO7GEDQcL. SL300
#2 Jonathan Green Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed
Our rating
  • Offers a cool-season grass

  • 100% superior grass seed

  • Deep-rooted

51Dsp9Fu45L. SL300

#3 Bonide High Traffic Grass Seed
Our rating
  • Fast growing and durable

  • Ideal for high traffic areas

  • Low moisture requirement

81EaDVTQhzL. SL300

#4 Jonathan Green Fast Grow Grass Seed Mixture
Our rating
  • Ideal for use in sun and shade areas

  • Germinates in only 14 days

  • Fast growing

81 ojgeYouL. SL300


The Southern California Challenge

The USDA Plant Hardiness Map divides California into southern and northern regions. Southern California lies south of Oakland, Stockton, and Sonora. Within this area, there are a whopping 13 different hardiness zones from 5a to 11a. Extreme low temperatures range from -20 to 45 degrees. With a span of 60 degrees, it’s clear that Southern California has a diverse climate.

Northern California is equally variable with only one less hardiness zone represented. Choosing the best grass for either portion is a daunting task when dealing with a state that has climates that go the gamut from subarctic to subtropical. A warm and arid Mediterranean climate prevails through most of the state.

The climate of southern California also varies between the eastern and western halves. Coastal areas have the added effects of maritime influences both on temperature and humidity. And while these areas benefit from these moderating effects, regions farther inland are more likely to experience temperature extremes. It’s just another of the many factors that impact grasses.

What You Need to Know about Grass

Despite the diversity of weather conditions, there are a few starting points that can guide the search for the best grass. The division between warm/arid and cool/arid goes almost right down the middle from the north end down to the top of Southern California. Each region has certain grasses that make excellent choices for the demands of the respective conditions.

Warm and Arid Equals Warm-Season Grasses

As a general rule of thumb, warm-season grasses will thrive best in the arid regions of western California. The term refers to the active growing season which occurs during the late spring and summer months. These grasses have a coarse texture that is best kept mowed at about one inch. They go dormant in the winter and will turn brown.

You typically find these grasses planted in lots of a single species rather than a mixture of different plants. While you can plant them as seeds, they’re usually laid down as sod or planted in plugs or sprigs. As you may expect, most varieties have excellent tolerance for both heat and drought. They do best in sunny locations and won’t handle the cold well.

This video by UNL Extension explains how to seed buffalo grass, a common warm-season variety.

Cool and Arid Equals Cool-Season Grasses

The other major category of grasses is a stark departure from warm-season varieties. Instead of a coarse texture, the cool-season grasses are fine. Their optimal temperature ranges from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit versus the 85 to 90 degrees for warm-season grasses. Fall is the best time to plant these grasses. Their growth habit includes both spreading and bunch.

All have an excellent tolerance for cold. These grasses have varying abilities to withstand heat, drought, and shade. Unlike warm-season grasses, you can plant cool-season varieties as seed. Mixtures of different types are common and often preferred over a single-species planting. They will also stay green during the winter if conditions don’t get too dry.

Choosing Grasses to Match the Region

Because of the sharp differences between the western and eastern portions of the state, it makes sense to hone in on two grasses than a single species. Cool and warm-season grasses are too polarized in their tolerance levels to recommend a single one throughout southern California. As you’ll see, each type has pros and cons.

Warm-Season Grasses

The major types of warm-season grasses include Bermuda grass, buffalo grass, and Zoysia grass. Other common varieties include St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass, and carpet grass. All require relatively low maintenance, a definite selling point. Variations exist with their abilities to handle wear and shade. Depending on your situation, these differences could be a deal breaker.

Cool-Season Grasses

The major types of cool-season grasses include bentgrass, fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryes. Each type varies in the degree of tolerance to other environmental conditions. While fine fescue does well in shady locations, Kentucky bluegrass prefers sunny areas. Tall fescue is the most tolerant across the board for a number of climate stresses.

Moisture Needs

Another consideration for choosing a grass for Southern California concerns moisture requirements, given the recent drought. Warm-season grasses have adequate tolerance for dry conditions for the most part. The same, however, cannot be said of all cool-season grasses. Some species such as perennial ryegrass will not thrive without irrigation.

Maintenance and Wear

You should also consider how much care each of the different grasses needs. While Zoysia grass is low maintenance, creeping bentgrass is more of a commitment. Then, there’s the question of wear. If you anticipate your lawn will see a lot of traffic, you should lean toward a grass that can handle this added pressure such as Bermuda grass.

Wear tolerance underscores the fact that local conditions will often dictate a suitable choice for a grass. And as the many hardiness zones indicate, there is a lot of variability within this region that will also play a role in the choice of the best grass.

Our Recommendations: Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix Bag and Jonathan Green Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed

Because of the big divide between warm and cool arid regions, we wanted to select a grass to satisfy the requirements of each one. That left us with both a warm and cool-season choice to cover most of the demands that establishing a lawn presents. Each one features a grass with a reasonable degree of tolerances for a broad range of applications.

Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix Bag impressed us with its emphasis on drought tolerance, making it an excellent choice for the warm and arid regions of western California. We also liked its high tolerance for wear and its quick recovery from heavy use. Bermuda grass can fill in bare spots rapidly to get your lawn established.

Jonathan Green Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed offers a cool-season grass that can take a wide range of environmental challenges. It can handle it all from heat to drought to cold. Its wear tolerance is another welcome perk. While tall fescue has higher moisture requirements, the deep-rooted characteristic of the Jonathan Green product offers a suitable alternative.

With its 13 hardiness zones, Southern California includes a wide variety of diverse habitats. The area has climate extremes on both ends of the spectrum. We opted to choose both a warm and cool-season grass that will fit the bill no matter where you live in the state. Picking grasses with excellent tolerance levels for a variety of environmental conditions makes good sense.

Photo by Hans licensed under CC0.

Grow Perfect Lawns with the Best Grass Seed for Pennsylvania

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendation for the best grass seed for PA is Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue. Pennsylvania presents several challenges when it comes to picking the best one. There are several hardiness zones, including the country’s transition zone. That can make picking the right grass seed tricky. Continue reading for our picks and some advice for finding the choice that will work for you.

Our Picks for the Best Grass Seed for PA

#1 Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue
Our rating
51ja1EfnmWL. AC 1
#2 Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Blend
Our rating
41EUbdB2MbL. AC 2

#3 Lebanon Seaboard Corporation Emerald Park No.3 Kentucky Bluegrass
Our rating
71L5zOZhucL. AC SL1500

#4 Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
61Ta7cy8zL. AC SL1000

How to Choose the Best Grass Seed

When it comes to choosing the best grass seed for Pennsylvania, it’s essential to take into consideration the particular conditions of your site. That means thinking about the amount and type of traffic your lawn has to endure. It will directly impact the grass that you should choose. A high-traffic area like a playground will thrive better with a variety that can handle these stresses.

Likewise, the amount of sun and shade your yard receives can influence your choice. For example, some fescues do better in shady conditions, whereas Kentucky bluegrass prefers sunny or slightly shady areas. Other factors to consider include soil drainage, fertility, and acidity. They can make the difference between a healthy lawn and one that fails to thrive.

You can easily narrow down your choices by running a soil test. You can find these kits online or at your local garden center. Armed with this information, you’ll rule out some species or make soil amendments to suit the grasses you wish to plant. Along with your area’s hardiness zone, you have the essential information you need to pick the best grass seed.

Know Your Zone

Your lawn will thrive best if you pick a grass type that is best suited for your region. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is an excellent place to start. The site includes an interactive map in which you can view the zones within your state. You can also find your zone by zip code. It’s an excellent tool if your state has multiple hardiness zones.

The hardiness zone tells you the minimum extreme temperature for your area. This information can help you select grasses that are appropriate for the environmental conditions. It doesn’t make sense to choose plants that cannot survive freezing temperatures. Rather, you should opt for grasses that will be able to tolerate your state’s winters for your best chances of success.

For Pennsylvania, hardiness zones range from 5a to 7b, a broad range between -20 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Areas north of Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Scranton are on the lower end of this range. However, the best grasses farther north will vary from those in the south. It behooves you to find out what is your particular zone to make the proper selection.

Kinds of Grasses

You’ll find grasses grouped into two basic categories, cool-season and warm-season grasses. The name gives you some indication of which ones do better in certain areas. Cool-season grasses are an excellent choice for the cold Pennsylvania winters that are typical in areas north of zone 7. This zone is considered a general guideline between the two categories of grass.

Cool-season grasses tend to have a finer texture than warm-season varieties. They will often keep their green color throughout the winter except during arid conditions. These grasses thrive best if you keep them longer than the shorter and coarser warm-season grasses. There is a wide selection of cool-season grasses from which you can choose.

While there are about 7,500 species of grasses in the world, only a few dozen are suited for turf use. A lot of variation exists among the different types including growth patterns, environmental conditions, and optimal soil temperatures. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, will germinate once temperatures reach 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Perennial ryegrass prefers it warmer at 68 degrees.

Compatibility Among Grasses

Even within a particular grass species, you’ll find differences between individual cultivars to give you an even broader range of options. Grasses vary in aggressiveness and tolerance for extreme environmental conditions like drought. An aggressive plant is one that grows rapidly and can dominate a lawn which may or may not be desirable. That brings up the issue of compatibility.

Some grasses like creeping bentgrass don’t play nice with other turf grasses. With plants like this one, the grass ends up becoming a weed. The problem is that they grow so quickly and so dense that they shade out other plants. You typically won’t find these grasses in grass seed mixtures. Instead, you’ll see them sold as a single species to avoid out-competing others.

This video from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach explains the right way to seed your lawn.

The Pennsylvania Challenge

Southern Pennsylvania faces a unique challenge when it comes to establishing a healthy lawn. This area is part of the country’s transition zone between the cooler areas to the north and the warmer ones of the south. That means choosing the best grass seed may be difficult when trying to balance the need for a winter hardy grass and one that is tolerant of warmer temperatures.

If you live in this region, you may want to consider contacting your cooperative extension service to get specific recommendations about which species or cultivars you should plant. In these cases, you might find a grass seed mixture a better option that a single species of grass. That way, if environmental conditions sway either way, you’ll at least have a grass that can survive.

You should lean toward grasses that tolerate a variety of conditions for best success. Fescues and bluegrasses do well with the changing demands of temperate zone climates. Other cool-season grasses include bentgrasses and ryegrasses. They vary in their tolerance of traffic and severe climate stress on both ends of the spectrum.

Our Recommendation: Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue

Like many states, Pennsylvania includes several hardiness zones which complicates narrowing it down to one choice. Also, there’s the transition zone that includes the southern portion of the state. Everything considered, we opted for the winter hardiness of a cool-season grass and one that could handle cool subtropical climates to meet both challenges. We quickly found a standout product from the bunch.

Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue offers an excellent choice for a grass that will do well in sunny conditions and handle heavy traffic. It is tolerant of dry conditions too which makes it a good fit for those tricky transitional regions. There’s a reason that this bunch-type grass is prevalent in the Northeast. Tall fescue isn’t compatible with other kinds of grasses, so it’s best on its own.

Finding the right grass for your yard is a matter of balancing the use of your yard with its conditions. If you keep these things in mind, you can pick grass seed that will give you a lush and hardy lawn. Our pick for the best grass seed for PA delivers a suitable choice in a state that has a broad spectrum of environmental conditions.

Photo by KaKnogler licensed under CC0.

Tame the Dryest Lawns with the Best Grass for Sandy Soil

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendations for the best grass for sandy soil are Scotts Snap Pac Tall Fescue Grass Seed and the Dirty Gardener Majestic Turf Bermuda Grass. Sandy soils are the proverbial double-edged sword. While they drain quickly, they also cannot store nutrients well. Keep reading for a longer list of some fantastic options for sandy soil grasses.

Our Top Picks for the Best Grass for Sandy Soil

#1 Scotts Snap Pac Tall Fescue Grass Seed
Our rating
#2 The Dirty Gardener Majestic Turf Bermuda Grass
Our rating

#3 Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Premium Grass Seed Blend
Our rating
41EUbdB2MbL. AC 2

#4 Zoysia Plug Tray
Our rating
71g3Il5UKAL. AC SL1500

What You Need to Know about Soil

Scientists describe soils by their general features that include structure, organic matter, pH, and permeability. Sand is one class of soil texture. Based on the diameter of its particles, it is classified as very coarse sand, coarse sand, medium sand, fine sand, or very fine sand. Sandy soils are the end product of the weathering and decomposition of rocks over time.

The parent material or the source of the weathered rock determines the mineral component of any soil. For sandy soils, that often means quartz, feldspar, or calcium carbonate. The mineral composition can, in turn, influence the soil chemistry and thus, the types of grasses that will thrive in a particular soil type. The same can be said of any soil type.

How Texture Influence Grasses

The texture is the mix of gravel, clay, silt, coarse sand and fine sand that gives a soil its basic look and feel. It directly influences how water and nutrients move through it. Drainage increases with the particle size because there is more room for water to move. It will also influence your choice of a grass. For example, Kentucky bluegrass won’t do well in clay or compacted soils.

Water and Nutrient Movement

Infiltration and permeability are characteristics that define how plants are able to get water and nutrients from the soil. For water to move freely and infiltrate soils, they must be permeable and allow it to occur. It’s a big deal when it comes to grasses and other plants. Soils with low permeability can become waterlogged, which can increase the risk for harmful bacteria growth.

Sandy soils allow for free infiltration and nutrient movement. It’s one reason that golf courses often have these kinds of soils. It suits their purpose—as well as golfers—to keep water from pooling at the soil surface. So, a particular combination of soil type and grass can serve a myriad of functions that you can fine tune to your needs.

Characteristics of Sandy Soils

To determine the best grass for sandy soils, we can begin with its basic features as they may influence your grass choice. Generally, sandy soil drains well and fast. While that has some advantages, it also means that sandy soils don’t store water as well as clay types. Grasses that are drought intolerant may have trouble in these soils.

This video from Catalina Island Marine Institute explains the fascinating process of how sand is formed.

Sandy soils are also well aerated which supports healthy root growth. It is a boon for grasses that cannot tolerate heavy clay soils. However, it comes at a price. It is more difficult for these soils to hang onto organic matter and their nutrients, which can increase the maintenance requirements for grasses that prefer fertile soils.

On the plus side, you’ll find lighter sandy soils easier to work with whether you’re preparing a vegetable garden or planting a new lawn. While the coarser texture of these soils aids aeration, it also means that warm air can permeate the lower levels. That means that you may be able to plant earlier in the season with warmer soil temperatures that grasses need to germinate.

Choosing the Best Grass

There are two things you need to keep in mind when picking the best grass for sandy soils. First, remember that these soils drain rapidly. That means that they may dry out quickly. Second, you’ll have the best success with grasses that are drought tolerant. The combination of fast draining and drought means that your grass must have an excellent tolerance level.

Cool-Season Grasses versus Warm-Season Grasses

Sandy soils occur throughout the country even far from the beach. So it makes sense that the best grass depends on your location. Cool-season grasses are a suitable choice for northern areas below USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Extreme low temperatures for these regions go from 10 degrees Fahrenheit and below. As you may expect, these grasses have excellent cold tolerance.

Warm-season grasses, on the other hand, prefer the higher temperatures of more southerly regions. They are adapted to both heat and drought conditions. They don’t tolerate cold or shade well, which makes sense given their preferences. Drought tolerance in a grass is especially important when both of these factors come into play.

Both types of grasses have the ability to withstand drought to some degree. That becomes important when considering the long-term health of your lawn. A lawn that is stressed is at a greater risk for disease and pests. Warm-season grasses have a low tendency for disease. However, drought certainly isn’t the only factor that comes into play.

That also means that the best grass for sandy soils has to withstand a broad spectrum of environmental conditions. Cool-season grasses have a limited ability to handle heat, whereas the opposite is the case with warm-season species. Thus, our choice for the best grass for sandy soils has to cover both of these scenarios. Hence, we have both a cool and warm-season option.

Our Recommendations: Scotts Snap Pac Tall Fescue Grass Seed and Dirty Gardener Majestic Turf Bermuda Grass

When it comes to choosing the best grass, we quickly realized that we needed choice suited for both northern and southern regions of the country. Drought tolerance ranked as our primary criteria since fast-draining sandy soils would push the envelope on adaptation to these conditions. We settled for the best of both worlds for a suitable grass to meet your needs.

Scotts Snap Pac Tall Fescue Grass Seed offers a lot of the advantages you’ll get from a cool-season grass with suitable tolerance for a variety of environmental conditions. It can handle both the cold and heat as well as drought. It has lower moisture needs than other cool-season species which makes it a good fit for sandy soils. It also handles wear well.

We were torn between several types of warm-season grasses because all of them seemed well adapted to drought. We settled on Bermuda grass for its superior ability to handle dry conditions. The Dirty Gardener Majestic Turf Bermuda Grass offers a similar durable and wear resistance like tall fescue. Given the stress that drought can cause, we opted for this grass.

Sandy soils present a challenge to the home gardener. Their ability to drain water quickly applies to nutrients as well. The best grass for sandy soils needs to be one that can handle a wide array of environmental conditions. And to fulfill everyone’s need for a suitable grass, we picked both a warm and cool-season selection with an emphasis on excellent tolerance.

Photo by PublicDomainPictures licensed under CC0.

Our Tips for Finding the Best Grass Seed for New England

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendation for the best grass seed for New England is Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Blend. Choosing a grass seed for a region rather than a state presents a greater challenge. Our pick offers a good balance between grasses that can handle the New England winters and a lawn that requires less maintenance. That one’s our favorite, but our list below has some other options for cool-season grasses for northern climates.

Our Picks for the Best Grass Seed for New England

#1 Houndog 6 Turf Type Tall Fescue
Our rating
710MF0vL5RL. SY679
#2 Jonathan Green Fall Magic Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
71GWd61cfHL. AC SL1000

#3 Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue
Our rating
51ja1EfnmWL. AC 1

#4 Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Blend
Our rating
41EUbdB2MbL. AC 3

Location, Location, Location

The challenge of choosing the best grass seed for New England is the degree of variability that exists on the East Coast. That’s not unexpected, of course. There are the long winters and short summers characteristic of Maine, parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts as well as Vermont. Heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures make the winters especially harsh.

Then, you have the opposite scenario in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. And if that weren’t enough, there is also the transition zone that lies in both southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. Add to the unique conditions of the coastal areas, and you have a mixed bag of climates and challenges, to say the least.

Granted, it’s not a perfect system. There are several mitigating factors in New England that it misses like snow cover, soil moisture, and the humidity of coastal regions. Your local cooperative extension service can provide site-specific information about suitable grasses for your area. You can also find using your hardiness zone as a guide.

In the Zone

Despite the differences in climate, there are some common factors that can help you choose the right grass seed for your area. The USDA Hardiness Zones provide a guide to the lowest extreme temperature. The zones in New England go from 3b in Maine through 7b in Massachusetts. The temperature range goes from a frigid -35 to a relatively balmy 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a general rule of thumb, cool-season grasses grow best in zones 7 and above. A cool-season grass has an active growth period during the colder times of the year like early spring and fall. These plants differ from warm-season grasses which grow during the warmer spring and summer months. For the cool and humid climate of New England, cool-season grasses are best.

Why Choose Cool-Season Grasses?

The primary advantage of picking a cool-season grass over a warm-season one is winter hardiness. Cold temperatures present one of the ultimate challenges for any plant. Choosing a plant that is adapted to these conditions will offer you the best chance of success. These grasses are tolerant of a wide range of climates from subarctic to tropical.

While warm-season grasses can handle the heat, the cold is a different story. With the exception of buffalo grass, most grasses will have difficulty surviving a brutal New England winter. Warm-season grasses have a coarser texture than cool-season varieties. Maintenance differs as well, with short mowing of an inch more appropriate than the longer cuts for cool-season ones.

While some cool-season grasses may turn brown during hot summers, there are numerous cultivars with improvements in tolerance levels of climatic stressors. Many will also handle cool, moist conditions as well as a moderate amount of shade. You’ll find quick growing annual ryegrasses that will cover bare spots fast as well as lush plants like Kentucky bluegrasses.

Kinds of Cool-Season Grasses

There are five basic varieties of cool-season grasses, all with numerous cultivars. Each type has its pros and cons. They include:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Fine fescue
  • Bentgrass

The top two are the most commonly planted in residential lawns. Kentucky bluegrass is a dark green grass with an excellent tolerance for the cold. It prefers well-drained soils and forms dense sod. Tall fescue is a medium green grass that tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions including shade, drought, heat, and cold. It does well in temperature and transitional climates.

Perennial ryegrass is a dark green bunch grass. Unlike the other two, it is less tolerant of shade and especially heat and drought. Fine fescue will tolerate both shade and cold well. It isn’t an ideal choice in heavily trafficked areas. Bentgrass is the least tolerant of the bunch. Compared to the others, it is a high maintenance grass that is better suited to the golf course than a lawn.

These grasses differ in their tolerance to traffic. With the exception of fine fescue, all of them are appropriate in lawns that will get a lot of use. The best time to plant cool-season grasses is in late summer or early fall when temperatures start to dip below 75 degrees. You can also opt for early spring, but the best chances for vigorous growth and survival are during the fall.

This video by the Utah State University Extension explains how to reseed a lawn for bare patches or damaged areas.

What You Should Know Before Buying Grass Seed

Before planting, you should run a soil test in your yard especially if this is the first time you’re trying to establish a lawn. The test will tell you if the soil has adequate amounts of nutrients and if you need to add amendments such as lime. The New England climate provides enough challenges without poor soil chemistry adding to the mix of stresses.

Other factors to consider when choosing a cool-season grass for New England are things like maintenance needs. If you want a lawn that doesn’t require a lot of extra care, you might find fescues a better option. However, you can also opt for low-maintenance cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass if you prefer its dense cover that makes it such a popular choice.

The amount of sun and shade your yard gets may also influence your choice. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, prefers sunny locations, whereas tall fescue has no problem with shade. By the same token, temperature may also sway your choice. Perennial ryegrass will have issues with drought and heat that might not affect tall fescue.

Our Recommendation: Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Blend

The climate of New England includes a wide range of frigid winters to hot, long summers—and everything in between. That’s why it makes sense to use grass seed that is tolerant of a broad range of environmental challenges. Given a choice, we’d also prefer grasses that are on the lower end of the maintenance spectrum with less frequent watering and fertilizing.

Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Blend is a high-quality turfgrass that forms dense bunches quickly. We also liked the fact that tall fescue is such a tolerant grass. Considering how widely the climate varies in New England, it jumped out as the smart choice for this region. The fact that it handles wear well was another perk for high-traffic areas.

The fact that the Pennington Smart Seed is a blend of tall fescue seeds means that you’ll get a mixture of grasses that capitalize on their various tolerance levels and environmental conditions of your lawn. It produces less thatch and requires relatively less maintenance. All these factors make it our pick for the best grass seed for New England.

Photo by Junzer licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Best Grass Seed for NC Gardens

Get Great Lawns with the Best Grass Seed for Ohio

Last update: April 16, 2021

Our recommendation for the best grass seed for Ohio is Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix. Ohio has fairly consistent conditions which is evident in the few hardiness zones located in the state. Being par tway in the transition zone presents some challenges. Kentucky bluegrass makes an excellent choice, but if you want other options, be sure to peruse our list below.

Our Top Picks for the Best Grass Seed for Ohio

#1 Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix
Our rating
61Ta7cy8zL. AC SL1000
#2 Vinyl Designz Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass Seed
Our rating
31UazT0twL. AC

#3 Pennington Smart Seed Tall Fescue Premium Grass Seed Blend
Our rating
41EUbdB2MbL. AC 2

#4 Jonathan Green Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed
Our rating
51Dsp9Fu45L. AC

What You Need to Know about Grass

There’s a bit more to it than just throwing some grass seed on a patch of bare ground. Grasses vary in the type of environmental conditions, their growing patterns, and the geographical areas in which they will thrive best. These are essential factors you need to know to choose the best grass seed. It’ll save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Environmental Conditions

The things you need to consider include the soil properties which you can determine with a soil test. A basic test will tell you the pH along with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels. This information is important, so you know if you have to fertilize your lawn before planting. A healthy lawn is more resistant to disease and pests. A good nutrient base is essential.

You’ll also need to know how much sun or shade your yard gets. It doesn’t make sense to play a sun-loving grass like Kentucky bluegrass in a place that is in the shade all day. Likewise, it’s essential to match your grass to the type of traffic your yard gets and how much maintenance you’re willing to do. Grasses vary widely regarding their needs for thatching and moisture.

Creeping bentgrass, for example, will not be a choice if you’re hoping for a maintenance-free lawn as it requires lots of care to keep it healthy. Also, some grasses are not compatible with other ones because they will out-compete other grasses for water and nutrients. While tall fescue is tolerant of a wide range of climatic conditions, it’s best planted alone.

Growing Grass in Ohio

You should also find out the hardiness zone of your area. The USDA Hardiness Zone Map classifies regions in the country by the lowest average annual temperature. If you look at the map for Ohio, you’ll see that it is fairly uniform across the state in terms of the represented zones. The extreme temperature range is -15 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in zones 5b to 6b.

It also lies within the transition zone. This area marks the line between warm and cool regions. In the industry, it is known as a challenging place to grow grass because of the broad spectrum of climatic conditions. For you, that means you should select a grass that is tolerant of both warmer weather and perhaps drought as well as colder winters.

Kinds of Grasses

With this background information in mind, you have several options for grass seed that will be tolerant and compatible for your yard. Kentucky bluegrass is a common plant found in the north part of the state. It can grow in a variety of climates from tropical to subarctic. As you can probably guess, it is winter-hardy.

Other choices include perennial ryegrasses, fescues, and bentgrass. Each of these types differs in their growing patterns and tolerance levels. Ryegrasses grow fast, making them ideal for bare spots that you want to be covered quickly. Fescues add more shade tolerance to the mix. Bentgrasses offer a fine texture that will do will in cool, wet areas.

This informative video from Cornell SIPS offers more tips about choosing the right grass seed for your lawn.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvL8avXgYp0

Cool-Season and Warm-Season Grasses

You’ll see grasses described as either cool or warm-season grasses. This broad classification denotes the time of year when the plants are actively growing. Because of Ohio’s winters, cool-season grasses may offer a better choice when balancing the climatic stresses of both the warm and cool seasons and the different humidity levels.

The types mentioned previously are all cool-season grasses. They share a few common characteristics. First, they have a fine texture that you should mow on the high side. Unlike warm-season grasses that go dormant in the winter, cool-season varieties will stay green. They are also winter hardy, an important factor for a lawn in Ohio.

Grasses that do well in warm seasons include Bahai, Bermuda and carpet grasses. These grasses will turn brown in the winter which can be a deal breaker for some. Also, they’re usually planted as sod or plugs rather than seed. If heat tolerance is an issue, you might consider a warm-season variety like Zoysia grass.

Cultivars and Mixtures

While there are numerous kinds of grasses, very few are used for lawns or turf. However, with every grass, you’ll find a plethora of cultivars. Companies typically tweak these newer varieties with an array of improvements over the old standbys. For example, improved Kentucky bluegrass cultivars are more tolerant of lower moisture conditions versus the less hardy earlier plants.

For you, that means more choices and opportunities to fine tune your selection to the specific conditions and needs for your yard. The chances are that if you have your heart set on a certain species, there will be a cultivar available that is better suited to your yard. But the choices for grass seed don’t stop there.

You’ll also find grass seed sold both as a single grass and in mixtures of a variety of types. Generally, mixtures are preferred for cool-season grasses. The advantage is that it can be easier to get your lawn well established with a blend of grasses with different growth patterns. They can also add a welcome aesthetic touch to your lawn.

Our Recommendation: Jonathan Green 11982 Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix

Like other regions within the transition zone, establishing and maintaining a lawn in Ohio can be trying. Because of the environmental factors, we favor a grass seed that is tolerant in a broad range of conditions. And since the weather can stress plants, we also wanted to stick with a grass that is disease resistant, so it stays healthy even in extreme conditions.

Jonathan Green Sod Maker Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Mix satisfied our criteria for both of these factors. We also liked the fact that it includes a blend of Kentucky bluegrass cultivars for added assurance against disease or pests. Planting only one kind of grass can leave your lawn vulnerable to being wiped out if a disease strikes. A mixture solves this problem.

While Kentucky bluegrass is not very shade tolerant, it does handle the demands of a heavily trafficked area. Also, it can tolerate drier conditions as well as the cold Ohio winters. There’s a reason that it’s the most widely planted grass seed in the United States. For us, it is a smart choice for a cool-season grass that has what it takes for a lush, dense lawn.

Photo by LoggaWiggler licensed under CC0.