Is your lawn in need of replacing or repairing? Here in Western North Carolina, we recommend using cool season grasses—and August 15 to September 15 is the best time to plant!
Seeding after these dates increases the chance of failure caused by winter injury. If you don’t accomplish seeding cool-season grasses in the fall, your best alternative is mid-February to early March.
Recommended grass species:
Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescues—such as creeping red, chewings, and hard fescue—are cool-season perennial grasses used for lawns in the mountains. These grasses perform best in spring and fall and have a tendency to show signs of stress in the summer. Recommended rates of seeding for these grasses for new lawns/reseeding are between 1.5 to 2 pounds of seed per thousand square feet for Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass and 6 pounds per thousand square feet for tall fescue.
Understanding the label:
Much like a label on pesticides you purchase, the label on a bag of grass seed provides invaluable information about:
- The seed variety or varieties: In the example given, ‘Grand Slam GLR’ is the variety of perennial ryegrass, ‘Midnight’, ‘Everest’ and ‘Bewitched’ are the varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, and ‘Radar’ is the variety of chewings fescue.
- Purity: Purity is the percent by weight of each seed component (variety or species) in a mixture and is a measure of “seed quantity.” In the example given, 24.06% is pure ‘Midnight’ Kentucky bluegrass, 19.93% is pure ‘Radar’ chewings fescue, 19.73% is pure ‘Grand Slam GLR’ perennial ryegrass, 19.71% is pure ‘Everest’ Kentucky bluegrass, and 15.63% is pure ‘Bewitched’ Kentucky bluegrass.
- Germination percentage: Germination is expressed on the seed label as the percentage of pure seed that is capable of growth. Germination declines with age of the seed and therefore seed older than 9 months to 1 year may be less viable than fresh seed. The date when the seed was tested for germination is included on the analysis tag as an indication of freshness and to protect the buyer. Purchase only the freshest seed of the highest purity and germination.
- Date: The date when the seed was officially tested. It is January (01) 2019, in this example.
- Other crop seed:Crop seed content is the percent by weight of all seeds identified in the bag that are grown as an “agricultural crop.” These must be specified by name if they exceed 5% of the weight of the seed bag. Look for the lowest possible crop seed content. In this example it is 0.08%.
- Weed seed: The percent by weight of all seeds in the container that have not been identified as pure seed. In the example, this value is 0.0%.
- Noxious weeds: Expressed on the label as the number per pound or per ounce found in the seed lot. Weeds classified as noxious can vary by state and are difficult to manage even with proper chemical and cultural practices. In this example, none are specified, which is the best!
- Inert matter: The percent by weight of all material in the seed container that will not grow. This value should be as low as possible because seed cost is based on bag weight—inert material contributes to bag weight but does not contribute any value in term of seed quality or purity. In this example, it is 0.86%.
Know before you buy!
Reading the label will help ensure that you not only get the best value on the seed you buy but that you will minimize the number of unwanted weeds in your lawn!
Article by Bob Wardwell, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer
For More Information:
Replacing your lawn:
Carolina Lawns: A Guide to Maintaining Quality Turf in the Landscape https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carolina-lawns