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Factors You SHOULD Consider When Selecting Turfgrass Species for a New Seeding

It’s opening day of a new business. The shelves are stocked. The merchandise is neatly arranged. The parking lot is paved and pristine. The grass is…whoa. What’s going on with the grass?

A poor seeding job will damage the curb appeal of a new business. In this photo, it’s hard to tell which type of seed blend/mix had been used. Most likely it was one with the words “contractor’s mix” on the bag. Generally, contractor’s mixes are cheap and contain unimproved varieties of tall fescues, fine fescues, perennial ryegrasses, and annual ryegrasses. This type of seed mix does serve a purpose. It is mostly used as either a temporary cover until a permanent turfgrass can be properly installed or as a low-maintenance turf cover in situations where a maintainable, high-quality turfgrass is not needed like roadside seeding projects.

There are many factors that contribute to a successful seeding project. The very first thing that you should ask yourself is “What type of seed mix/blend should I choose?” Turfgrass species vary in terms of key attributes including appearance, appropriate uses, cultural requirements, pest resistance, and stress tolerance. Individual cultivars (or varieties) within species provide additional options for effectively matching grasses with growing conditions, management level, and desired performance.

There are many factors that SHOULD be considered when selecting a turfgrass species for a new seeding. Here is a comprehensive list of factors to consider:

1. What will be the use of the turf? Is it being planted strictly for aesthetic purposes, or will it be walked on frequently?

2. What is the desired level of visual quality?

3. Will the turf receive a high level of maintenance after the seed is established? Alternatively, will it receive only minimal amounts of water and fertilizer and little or no pest control?

4. What is the owner’s interest in irrigated, green turf versus a dormant summer turf? Is there an available supply of inexpensive water? Or is the water supply limited or expensive? Is the owner willing to pay for the amount of water that might be required to maintain a specific turfgrass species at the desired quality level? Also, how is the water quality?

5. Is the soil sandy or clayey? Does the soil have high salt levels or poor drainage?

6. Is the lawn area sunny or shady?

7. How quickly must a turf cover appear, and how hard is the owner willing to work in establishing the turf?

8. Is there a history of certain insects, mites, or disease problems on the site?

9. Can you use pesticides, or are they totally out of the question?

Unfortunately, few people ask these questions before establishing a new turf. Selecting the proper seed is often an afterthought. Assuming that “grass is grass” and all seed mixes/blends are created equal is a terrible mistake to make. Notice that one of the questions not asked was “How much does the seed cost?” Much like in other aspects of life, with seed, you get what you pay for. Investing in a high-quality turfgrass for your seeding project can go a long way in getting the results you desire. 

 Ask your ATS sales rep for help in selecting the proper seed for your next seeding project!

Learn more about what to do before seeding, during seeding, and after seeding in this blog post.

Joby Morrow
Product Manager
LT Rich | Linemark International

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