Grass Seed Buying Guide

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

A lush, well-maintained lawn offers benefits beyond merely being the natural beauty surrounding your home. Healthy lawns reduce soil erosion, absorb rainfall, provide filtration for ground water, improve air quality and produce much-needed oxygen. Growing this magic carpet of green starts with the right grass seed.

With the information in this guide, you’ll be able to select the best grass seed to grown your own lush 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.


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


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

Bahia (W)

  • High

Low

Coarse

High

Full sun to partial shade
 

Moderately aggressive

Bermuda (W)

  • High

Medium

Fine to Medium

Fine to Medium High

Full sun

Fills in quickly

Buffalo (W)

  • High

Low

Fine

High

Full sun

Requires minimal maintenance


Centipede (W)

  • Medium

Medium

Coarse

Low

Full sun to partial shade

Creeps low to the ground, slow growing

Creeping Bent Grass (C)

  • Low

High

Fine

High

Full sun to partial shade
 

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

Fescue (C)

  • High

Low

Coarse

Medium

Full sun to partial shade

 

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

Kentucky Blue Grass (C)

  • Medium

Medium to high

Fine to medium

Medium to high

Full sun to partial shade
 

Withstands cold and is resistant to disease

Perennial Ryegrass (C)

  • Low

High

Medium to coarse

Medium to high

Full sun to partial shade

Intolerant of extreme heat or cold

St. Augustine (W)

  • Low to medium

Medium to high

Coarse

Medium

Full sun to partial shade
 

Grows quickly

Zoysia (W)

  • Medium to high

Medium 

Fine to medium

High

Full sun to partial shade
 

Dense and wiry

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. Most of these mixes also contain technology that helps with water absorption and retention to improve growth.
  
Some newer mixes formulated for spot repair replace mulch with soil improvers that help with root development. Rather than cover bare spots, these mixes quickly thicken up thinning spots in the lawn.

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.