Grass Seed Buying Guide

Learn how to plant grass seed that will produce a thick, lush lawn

A lush, well-maintained lawn reduces soil erosion, absorbs rainfall, provides filtration for ground water and improves air quality by absorbing dust and other particles, and produces much needed oxygen.

This guide will help you determine which grass seed will produce the best results in your lawn.

Types of Grass Seed

The two main types of turf grass are warm season grass and cool season grass. Pick the grass seed that matches the climate and your yard’s sun exposure.

Tip: Pick grass seed designed to absorb the level of lawn traffic your yard receives.

Warm season grass originates in the South and grows best in hot weather. Most warm season grass goes dormant and turns brown with cool temperatures. Warm season grass should be planted in late spring.

Cool season grass generally originates from the North and is characterized by rapid growth in the spring and fall. Cool season grass often turns brown during periods of high summer heat. The best time to plant cool season grass is in late summer or early fall.

Type of Grass Drought Resistance Need for Water Texture Traffic Level Sun Other Features

Bahia (W)

Low

Coarse

High

Full sun to partial shade

Moderately aggressive

Bermuda (W)

Medium

Fine to Medium

Fine to Medium High

Full sun

Fills in quickly

Buffalo (W)

Low

Fine

High

Full sun

Requires minimal maintenance

Centipede (W)

Medium

Coarse

Low

Full sun to partial shade

Creeps low to the ground, slow growing

Creeping Bent Grass(C)

High

Fine

High

Full sun to partial shade

Commonly found
on golf courses;
provides a soft,
dense, carpet-
like lawn

Fescue (C)

Low

Coarse

Medium

Full sun to partial shade

Many varieties
and textures;
thrives in mild
winters, warm
summer

Kentucky Blue Grass (C)

Medium to high

Fine to medium

Medium to high

Full sun to partial shade

Withstands cold and is resistant to disease

Perennial Ryegrass (C)

High

Medium to coarse

Medium to high

Full sun to partial shade

Intolerant of extreme heat or cold

St. Augustine (W)

Medium to high

Coarse

Medium

Full sun to partial shade

Grows quickly

Zoysia (W)

Medium 

Fine to medium

High

Full sun to partial shade

Dense and wiry


(W) = warm season grass
(C) = cool season grass

Blends & Mixtures

You can purchase different mixes of grass seed that are designed to meet specific needs, such as drought-resistant grasses or repairing damaged lawns.

Seed mixtures: Seed mixtures combine several different kinds of grass in one seed package. The strengths and weaknesses of each offset the others to keep your lawn green and healthy. This type of seed often contains disease- and drought-resistant properties.

Blended seed mixtures: Blended seed mixtures combine several different kinds of the same grass species to capitalize on the strengths of each type. By using the same species, you can ensure a more consistent appearance to your lawn.

Lawn repair mix: These products combine grass seed, starter fertilizer and mulch in a single package. This all-purpose mixture is used for reseeding bare spots in your lawn and prevents you from having to buy all the items separately. Also, the fertilizer and mulch are optimized for the particular seed you choose.

Straight seed: Warm season grass is usually sold as single or “straight” seed. These packages contain only one variety of seed. Planting, growing and maintenance tips are included on the back of the package.

Planting Tips

Before planting in a new area, prepare the soil by removing existing plants, weeds and stones. Mix in organic material, then rake it smooth.

  • Use a lawn spreader or, for smaller spots, sow seed by hand.
  • Mulch the seeded area with garden fabric or straw to retain moisture.
  • Water daily until germination occurs, then less often but more heavily.
  • When new grass is 3 inches high, remove the mulch and lightly mow.
  • Protect the lawn from people or animals by roping it off until the grass is established.
  • Weed control products are helpful because they decrease the number of weeds that drain soil of the water and nutrients vital for a successful grass growing season.