Make your lawn the envy of your neighbors with the best grass seed for your yard’s conditions. Find the right match and top recommendations. Everything you need to know about planting new grass or improving your current lawn in 3 easy steps. Plus additional tips for seeding aftercare. See why DIY Lawn Fertilizer from Home Depot and Lowes vs Online Retailers are better and more cost effective per square foot than you might think!
The Best Grass Seed of 2022
Make your lawn the envy of your neighbors with the best grass seeds for your yard’s conditions.
By Tony Carrick | Updated Jun 29, 2022 6:15 PM
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Many homeowners dream of a lush, green carpet of grass upon which their children and pets can frolic. Growing a lawn that makes neighbors green with envy begins with choosing the right grass seed.
There is a seemingly endless variety of different seed types and products on the market, which can make choosing the right one an involved process. Climate, shade, and foot traffic all play roles in which grass seed is right for your lawn. This guide features factors to consider when choosing the best grass seed that will turn your yard into a striking carpet of green.
- BEST OVERALL:Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun & Shade-3 in 1
- BEST BUDGET:Scotts Turf Builder Sunny Mix, 3lb.
- BEST WARM-SEASON:Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix
- BEST COOL-SEASON:Jonathan Green Black Beauty All Grasses Sun or Shade
- BEST FOR DENSE SHADE:Pennington Seed Smart Seed Grass Seed 3 Lb
- BEST FOR HIGH-TRAFFIC:Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed High Traffic Mix
- BEST KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS:Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass
- BEST BERMUDA GRASS:Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Bermudagrass, 5 lb
- BEST FAST-GROWING:Pennington Smart Seed Perennial Rye Blend Grass Seed
- BEST LOW-MAINTENANCE:Scotts Turf Builder Zoysia Grass Seed and Mulch
Types of Grass Seed
Grass seed falls into two main categories: warm-season and cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses endure hot southern climates much better than cool-season grasses. During the winter, warm-season grasses turn brown as they go dormant. Cool-season grasses grow quickly in the cool weather of fall and spring before going dormant in the summer heat. Warm-season grasses can be reseeded during the spring and summer, while spring and fall are the optimal time to reseed cool-season grasses.
- Bahia: This warm-season grass is popular in hot climates because of its heat tolerance and drought-resistant qualities. While other grasses burn to a crisp in the hot sun, with its broad leaves and coarse texture, Bahia grass thrives. This makes it an attractive grass species in the Deep South.
- Bermuda: As with many other warm-season grasses, Bermuda grass thrives in hot climates thanks to its exceptional ability to tolerate heat and withstand high traffic. Bermuda grass requires good drainage, full-sun exposure, and plenty of nutrients. The grass does not tolerate cold weather well, making it a good option in the southern part of the country.
- Buffalo: Even though it is considered a warm-season grass, buffalo grass thrives in a broad range of climates and is quite common in states such as Montana that experience harsh winters. Like other warm-season grasses, it goes dormant and turns brown in colder weather. Planting season for buffalo grass is from April to May.
- Centipede: Centipede grass is known for being heat tolerant and very low maintenance. This makes it a popular grass with those who don’t enjoy spending a lot of time managing their lawns. Centipede grass thrives in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Due to those requirements, it does best in the Southeast. Plant centipede grass seed in the spring when all danger of frost has passed.
- St. Augustine: One of Florida’s most popular grasses, St. Augustine can tolerate high heat and humidity. It features blue-green grass blades that spread quickly through a lawn. St. Augustine also can tolerate salt water, which makes it a popular option for coastal yards. Since it spreads rapidly, one of the most effective ways to establish St. Augustine grass is by planting plugs. Plant St. Augustine seed in the spring or the summer.
- Zoysia: Zoysia is a durable, dense variety of grass that’s known for its ability to stand up to heat, drought, and high foot traffic. Possibly the softest grass for bare feet, zoysia forms a dense lawn that chokes out weeds with very little maintenance required. Although some types of zoysia can only be grown from sod or plugs, some grass seed companies offer a variety that can grow from seed. Zoysia grass should be planted in the spring once the threat of frost has passed.
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- Fescue: Tall, fine fescue grass seed is perhaps the most common grass type in the country. This is because it adapts well to many different climates as it tolerates heat, cold, shade, and drought reasonably well. This is primarily due to its deep roots that can reach as deep as 2 to 3 feet. Tall fescue is perhaps the easiest grass to grow, but it can suffer under heavy traffic. Plant and reseed fine fescue grass seed in the fall and spring. Shoppers will sometimes see fescue sold in all-season grass seed mixes, which claim they’re good year-round.
- Kentucky bluegrass: This is the type of grass most people imagine when they consider the perfect lawn. With its lush, deep-green appearance, Kentucky bluegrass is a prized species. This grass is not easy to grow, requiring a high level of maintenance and care. Its shallow root system does not tolerate heat well, making it more suitable for northern lawns. Kentucky bluegrass should be planted and reseeded in the spring and fall.
- Perennial ryegrass: Perennial ryegrass should not be confused with annual ryegrass, which is a temporary grass used for erosion control. Perennial ryegrass comes back year after year. Ryegrass germinates quickly, making it popular for new lawns. It does best in colder climates with mild summers; however, it can still be found in the southern part of the country. Perennial ryegrass should be planted or reseeded in the fall.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grass Seed
When deciding which grass seed is best for a front yard or a backyard oasis, it’s crucial to consider several important factors, including climate, maintenance, and sun requirements. A good grass seed should thrive in the specific conditions of your yard. Check below for some of the elements you should consider when purchasing the right grass seed.
With enough determination and money, you can grow most of the above grass seeds just about anywhere in the country. It’s not uncommon to see beautiful Kentucky bluegrass lawns in the baking heat of the Southwest. But going against climate guidelines will make the job a lot harder and more expensive, requiring significant investments in irrigation systems, water, and fertilizers. Paying attention to climate will make establishing a lawn much more manageable. Consider where you live and what grass types will thrive in your region with minimal maintenance and watering.
Reseeding vs. New Planting
How you go about reseeding a lawn versus planting a new lawn is quite different. When seeding a new lawn, you’ll be applying seed to the bare dirt you’ve prepared for new planting. For reseeding, you’ll be attempting to thicken an already existing lawn. With that in mind, you typically need about twice as much seed to start a new lawn as you need to reseed an existing lawn.
Grass types vary in how well they tolerate foot traffic. If you have kids or pets and plan to use your backyard extensively as an area for play, consider selecting grass types that can take some abuse and still keep on growing. Zoysia and Bermuda grasses are the most tolerant of foot traffic, while fescue does poorly with heavy traffic.
While some property owners enjoy fussing over their lawns, many homeowners dread long hours spent maintaining a yard. Consider which grass types require the least amount of care and how much work you’re willing to put into a lawn. Zoysia grass, for example, requires annual dethatching, while perennial ryegrass will not self-repair and requires patching. Bermuda grass, in comparison, requires very little maintenance.
Various grasses tolerate different levels of sun exposure. Some grasses, such as Bermuda grass, demand full sun but other varieties, such as tall fescue, do well with partial shade. Assess the sun exposure of your lawn to determine a good lawn grass seed for the lighting conditions there. Some seed companies produce specific seed mixes for full shade, full sun, or lawns with shaded areas and full-sun areas.
Single Seed vs. Mix
When selecting a type of grass seed, you can choose one specific seed type or a blend that combines several different species. Go for a single seed type if you’re trying to achieve a particular look for your lawn. While single seeds are more difficult to maintain, the effect of a single species lawn can be well worth it.
Mixes are easier to grow and maintain because companies blend the mixes for improved drought or heat tolerance. They also generally grow more uniformly with little need for patching. However, your lawn will lack the attractive uniform look of a single species lawn.
Despite your best efforts to prepare your yard for seeding, some seeds simply weren’t meant to become plants. This is where germination percentage comes into play. Germination percentage is a measure of the viability of a collection of seeds. It is calculated by dividing the number of seeds that germinate by the total number of seeds.
Given how much grass seed can cost, the higher the germination percentage the better, and it mostly relates to seed quality. Although you might be tempted to buy the cheapest grass seed on the shelf, chances are it will have a lower germination percentage, resulting in significant waste. High-quality grass seed has a 90 to 95 percent germination rate, making it worth the additional investment.
Our Top Picks
You can find grass seed for sunny areas, shade, high traffic, hot and cold climates, and more. These top-rated grass seed picks cover lots of lawn and grass types to suit various uses.
Growing your lawn from grass seed: 3 easy steps
Planting grass seed is a way to expand your lawn into new areas and maximize the green space around your home. You can also plant new grass seed to improve your current lawn if it’s looking a little dingy. You can even use grass seed to restart your lawn completely.
Before you seed, start with some quick and easy prep work.
Make sure it’s the right time of year for seeding
As an easy rule, if you’re experiencing (or are about to experience) harsh temperatures you’ll want to wait until the extreme weather passes to plant your grass seed for best results.
Either spring or fall is the best time to plant, based on your region and grass type. To keep this simple, if you’re in the northern part of the country, you’re likely in the ‘cool season’ area, meaning the best time to plant grass seeds is the fall, or typically September through November. If you’re in the southern or middle regions, you’ll likely want to plant in spring or early summer, typically March – June.
Trying to plant seed out of season may still be possible, but it can make for slower growing and hurt the chances of the new grass’s survival. Just something to keep in mind.
Use the right type of grass seed for your area
Using the same regions shown above, you’ll want to buy a grass seed type that grows best in your climate.
- Cool season grasses (northern states) include: Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass and fescue.
- Transition zone grasses include: Zoysia, Fescue / Bluegrass blends, and Bluegrass / Perennial Ryegrass blends
- Warm season grasses include: Bermudagrass, Bahiagrass, Zoysia, and Centipede grass.
Pennington’s article on grass types based on more specific regions may be helpful if you’re still trying to decide.
Supplies you’ll need
Assuming that the timing is right, here’s what you’ll need to buy.
We recommend shopping on Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowes for fast and convenient selections. Home Depot will probably be able to provide more insight if you feel you’re still questioning what grass type or how much to buy.
Check out this article on the Spruce for the best grass seed picks in 2020.A pH Tester
This will be used to test your soil before adding the seed. You can find these on Amazon for around $10.
Grass feeder (aka fertilizer)
Once planted, the seed will need to start growing quickly, before surrounding weeds out-grow and kill it. Grass feeder should be applied right after the seeds are planted, so be sure to add this to your cart as well.
Here are the top 10 lawn fertilizers of 2020 based on BestReviews.Guide
To protect the seeds from blowing away, being burned by the sun, eaten by birds, etc. you’ll want to bury the seeds under a layer of nutrient-dense soil, like Scotts turf builder. Local nurseries and Home Depot or Lowes will have soil available, just make sure to explain your use before buying, to avoid any soil with weed seed.
3 easy steps to plant grass seed
Step 1: Prepare the surface of the lawn
Whether you are seeding for the very first time or just overseeding your existing thinned out lawn, you need to make sure you have a good, solid foundation. Make sure to remove weeds, rocks, sticks, and other debris from the lawn.
Check any uneven areas so you can try to level the ground before laying down any seed. This will help prevent water from collecting and pooling in low areas, which will cause the seed to rot.
Loosen the soil
If your soil is compacted, you will need to loosen at least the top four inches of soil. You can use a tiller or rake. This will allow air flow and will provide the best chance for vigorous growth.
You can also scatter out a thin layer of topsoil over the lawn at this stage. Since it is freshly laid, it will not be compacted, allowing good airflow. Make sure to keep enough left for coverage at the end.
Applying topsoil will also level out the lawn for a nice and even look, which will also help you avoid puddles when you are watering. If you encounter divots or holes, this is a good time to fill them in to prevent problem areas once the grass starts growing.
Step 2: Enrich your soil with nutrients to help grass seeds grow
If you’re planting new grass seed because your lawn is dead or struggling to grow, there may be deeper issues to address with your soil.
This is where you’ll need to get out your pH tester. Ideally, the pH for most grass types is between 6.0 and 7.0.
If your soil’s pH is under 6.0, it is too acidic, meaning it needs nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. Lime (aka limestone) can be applied to the soil to help increase the soil pH and make those nutrients more available.
If your soil’s pH is above a 7, add compost, peat, sulfur, or fertilizer to lower the pH.
Step 3: Lay and feed the grass seed
When laying down seeds, you must do a pretty heavy application for a brand new lawn. Try to maintain an even application over the entire area so that everything gets covered.
Alternatively, you need lighter coverage when overseeding an existing lawn. Put more grass seed in sparse areas to promote growth.
To lay the seed, you can just use your bare hands or a spreader for larger areas.
Cover up the seeds or work the seeds into the soil
When seed is only applied to the surface level of the ground, it will dry out quickly and will not germinate. It might also get washed away by water or wind.
Add another thin layer of the soil that you purchased onto your lawn to bury the seeds.
If you do not have soil to put on top of the seeds, the seed must be worked into the soil; about ⅓ to ½ inch deep. After sowing the seed, use a rake to work the seed into the soil and smooth the surface.
This will keep the water from evaporating immediately, thus keeping the ground moist. It also protects the seeds from wildlife.
Add your feeder
Once the seed is applied to the soil, treat the yard with fertilizer to accelerate growth.
Maintaining your lawn after seeding
Water every single day
The final step in successfully planting grass seed is to keep the lawn adequately moisturized all the time. This is very crucial in the process.
If the seed dries out, it will die. After sowing grass seed, they will need constant and frequent watering unlike the “water deeply and less frequently” watering for mature grass. This is to help the seed germinate and develop its root system for a healthy lawn.
On the other hand, overwatering will hinder the germination process as well, so you need to use just enough water to keep the soil moist at seed depth. It should be moist, never soggy.
You must commit to water the new or overseeded lawn at least two to three times every single day to keep the top inch of the soil moist at all times. The germination time for grass seed ranges from 5 to 30 days depending on the variety or longer in cooler temperatures.
Check moisture levels
Once the seedbed has started to establish itself and sprouts have begun to pop out, continue to check the ground’s moisture regularly. If you notice it getting dry, add some water.
Remember, these new grass seedlings have very short roots and they will still require very frequent watering so the roots can spread out. Steps one and two will just go to waste if the watering part will not be done appropriately, so your commitment is a must!
For after-care, whether you have seeded a new lawn or just filled in a bare spot, start mowing your grass after 8 weeks or until the grass has reached a mowing height. Do not cut it too short and do not cut more than one-third of its height as it will stress out the grass.
How long does new grass seed take to grow?
Generally speaking, it takes between 7 and 30 days for grass seed germination to begin.
Can you just sprinkle grass seed on top of your existing lawn?
While it’s possible to simply sow the new grass seed over your existing lawn, taking the time to prepare your lawn beforehand will increase the likelihood of seed germination and improve your end result.
Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?
Probably not. Some seeds on the soil’s surface will sprout, but the germination rate will diminish, and you will not be left with ideal results.
Will grass seed germinate on top of soil?
It depends how loose your soil is. Grass seeds are not strong enough to grow through soil. They’re meant to be placed on top of loose, prepared soil. Germination can quickly suffer from too much soil on top of them.
Weed And Seed Home Depot
DIY lawn care is actually much much cheaper than you think and today I’m going to talk through it when it comes to fertilizing your lawn and turning in double-dark green.
I’ve done posts like this before but it came up again recently when I was talking this weekend about the “Easiest Way To Get a Green Lawn, Fast.” In that video I talk about the 3 primary elements you want to look for in any fertilizer if you want to get your lawn green.
All 3 of those elements work directly with, on, or in chlorophyll. It just so happens that it’s chlorophyll that makes grass green. Push the chlorophyll and you push the color of the lawn, deeper, greener and even bluer. Check out the video here if you missed it.
In that video, I made a recommendation for those of you who don’t want to slog to the store and get fertilizer but would rather have something delivered right to your door. That product is 24-0-6 Flagship and it just so happens to have nice amounts of all 3 elements, and in some cases, those elements are in higher concentrations than anything found at your big box retailer anyway.
But why is the bag so expensive?
Answer: it isn’t when you break it down.
24-0-6 Flagship (with 3% Iron) and Bio-Nite™ – Granular Lawn Fertilizer is a 45lb bag and the cost is $55 delivered (includes shipping). So for sure, there is some shipping cost in there that takes the sticker price up some, but what I have done is formulated it to work REALLY well with a lower rate or what we call “fewer pounds on the ground.”
If you want to know the secret, that’s really it. I formulate my DIY lawn fertilizers to work VERY well at low rates. Throwing down less and getting the same results – let’s take a look.
Flagship DIY Granular Fertilizer: 45lbs
Application Rate: 3lbs/1,000 (this means you spread 3lbs of product across each 1,000 sq ft of lawn area)
Bag covers: 15,000 sq ft 45/3 = 15
So you can get 15,000 sq ft of coverage from just one bag. To find out how much this will cost you for a single application, you have to know your lawn size.
Don’t Let The Math Deter You!
If this is starting to get confusing, please DO NOT click away – instead, get yourself some DIY Yard Care training. I have helped thousands of DIYers learn how to care for their lawns by teaching them the basics of lawn care and a lot of that starts with things like understanding your lawn size, and learning the lay of your land.
Before buying any fertilizer, invest in yourself by getting some good training that will set you up for success now and in the future. It’s full video and audio training plus a forum where we answer your questions. I’ll teach you all about fertilizers, what they do and how to apply them and why. We talk about all grass types too. You also get your choice of my warm or cool season full e-guide at the end of the course.
It’s all there, and I know you’ll be more confident after completing this training. Sign up for Yard Care BootCamp here. It’s never too late to invest in yourself so you can translate the knowledge to your lawn.
If You Have a 5,000 Sq Ft Lawn
And we know that a bag of Flagship covers 15,000 sq ft, and you have a typical 5,000 sq ft lawn, then you can get 3 applications from one bag. At a cost of $55 for the bag, that means each application only costs you $18.33.
Not too expensive is it?
Now compare that to a bag of Scotts lawn food at the local Home Depot.
Can you see in the top right that this bag covers 5,000 sq ft? And what is the cost?
Pretty much the same as you getting some Flagship from me and having it sent right to your door.
So far we know Flagship is slightly cheaper and for sure more convenient. But how do these ferts stack up when it comes to nutrients?
I’ll tell you now – both are going to turn your lawn green. There really isn’t a “bad” fertilizer. And any company that is going to take the time to get themselves into a Home Depot is going to make sure their stuff brings the green. Plus, we all know Scotts: your dad and grandad used their products and had an awesome lawn right?
I can also tell you that Flagship works. My DIY friends all over FaceBook are posting results pics nearly everyday.
So how do these two stack up, side by side? Let’s look at the label:
The Scotts on the left has more nitrogen, that’s for sure. However, Flagship contains more potassium and more iron. Overall we can look at those as a wash.
Now the Scotts does have Sulfur and that is an important element, so I have to give them that one, but look at all the other minor nutrients that Flagship delivers for you.
Boron, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc. You will find those in short supply in many soil tests and here they are, riding along with the Nitrogen, Potassium and iron.
What About Bio-Nite?
Now, let’s look at one more differentiator and that’s the filler material. Truth be told, all fertilizers are actually mostly just “filler” material. There is only so much nutrient you can pack in before it becomes overkill so the rest is filler material to help make the fert easy to spread.
Most companies use something benign as their filler material – you could even say “useless” – and that’s ok. It’s just what is done.
With Flagship, however, I go a step further and add 10% of my filler as Bio-Nite. Bio-Nite is the Florida version of Milorganite and it contains additional slow release nutrients, including additional chelated iron, calcium and some other goodies. These are not claimed on the label because we use them as filler – but they are still there and they deliver the smell of success in the fert.
That smell of success is also great for building overall soil health because natural additives like biosolids (Bio-Nite is a biosolid) increase the soil’s overall carbon percentage. You don’t get that with the cheaper fillers used in the Scotts.
Lastly, there is the small business angle. Yard Mastery is now entering its third year in business my team and I work hard everyday to help our customers succeed while creating positive content for this community I have been building for more than a decade now. So let me once again say, “Thank you for supporting an American small business!”
I hope you’ve learned something here – even if you never buy fert from me, I hope you will take the thinking, approach and strategy I’ve taught you today and take better control of your budget as you continue on your DIY lawn care journey!