Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

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Lynette
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Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:09 am

I live in Michigan and I was wondering what type of seed people use for lawns in this area. Our weather is quite similar to the North East. I would also appreciate any advice or should I call in a pro and have sod installed. My house is in a neighborhood where older houses such as mine are being broken down are replaced with houses that have too much concrete for the lots. In addition too many large trees were cut down and we have drainage issues. To solve water in my basement problems and runoff from a new driveway I have had plumbers install three catch basins and drains on my property. Of course when the soil sank it caused valleys over the sewer lines in both the front and back yards. I have been carting in many bags of soil to try and even out the yards, and slope them towards the drains. Now I have to seed these areas. I am tackling these areas in stages.

I am discovering more than I wanted to know about the different types of grass seed as the new seed I got from the Big Box office produces different types of grass and even color. It seems that Scott and Pennington have most of the market for grass seed. I have tried to buy plain grass seed but it all seems to be modified and packaged by the seed manufacturers. My original lawns were likely Kentucky Blue Grass but the varieties I have bought are classified as "Sun and Shade". Reading the labels they seem to be a mixture of Kentucky Blue grass, a whole variety of fescues and Rye grass. In addition this type of seed supposedly has "Smart seed" that absorbs more water ...?!?!?

Most of my neighbors don't have clue what type of grass they have. One neighbor who does not want to water his lawn told me to get Tall Fescue but I don't like the look of his lawn. My other neighbor has a dog who digs up everything. She had a massive operation with machines that leveled the lawn and sod laid down - twice. Now the new sod on the street side isn't growing properly and it is brown.

I would appreciate any advice - experience with trying to get a good looking lawn.

Thanks,

Lynette

forgeblast
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by forgeblast » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:31 am

Ask at the county ag extension. They will have a good list of what works in your area, they might even be able to do soil tests to tell you what you need to do to amend it.
For us in NE Pa, zone 5 we have to use lime since our soil can become acidic.

jebmke
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by jebmke » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:38 am

forgeblast wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:31 am
Ask at the county ag extension. They will have a good list of what works in your area, they might even be able to do soil tests to tell you what you need to do to amend it.
For us in NE Pa, zone 5 we have to use lime since our soil can become acidic.
Definitely do a soil test before proceeding. We tested our soil and discovered it was going to take about two years of lime applications to get the PH to the right level before doing a lawn renovation. Seeding will typically work better in the long run unless there is a slope problem. Our lawn guy used a tractor seeder and made two passes with the seeder at 90 degree angles then a third pass with a broadcast seeder. So 2/3 of our seed was underground and 1/3 was above ground.

I agree with others that you will get good suggestions from your ag extension on type of seed. I am in mid-Atlantic so fescue is a good solution because it is relatively drought resistant.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

carolinaman
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by carolinaman » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:57 am

I live in NC so our grasses are likely different than yours. I just planted grass seed and used a blend of tall fescue sold by a local organic store. The owner is a true expert on gardening and I asked him about different popular grass seeds in our. Most were not highly rated. I did ask about Kentucky 31 tall fescue and he said that is pasture grass. You will probably find some nice grasses that we cannot use due to the high heat and humidity we have in summer.

I suggest you find a local gardening store, as opposed to big box stores, and see what they recommend. My cost for a 50 lb bag was no more than what I would have paid for one of the so-called top brands.

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Kenkat
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Kenkat » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:01 am

If you are planting on bare dirt that you have hauled in, you are probably fine to use one of the blends of fescue, bluegrass and rye. A local garden store could likely give you some good recommendations.

Make sure the soil is a bit roughed up, broadcast the seed over the planting area and add a starter fertilizer as well. Cover lightly with straw and water lightly once a day until the grass starts to sprout; then water every other day or so until you cut it for the first time at which point you can start to water less frequently - every few days to a week or so, more deeply as you spread the time out between watering. Follow up with an application of regular fertilizer high in Nitrogen (the first number) around Nov. 1.

jm1495
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by jm1495 » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:26 am

visit www.aroundtheyard.com It's bogleheads for lawn care, seed etc.

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lthenderson
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by lthenderson » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:44 am

I went down to the local nursery and they guided me to the most common seed that is needed for our area. I try to steer clear of big box stores for things like this where decisions of what grass seed to ship where are most likely made thousands of miles from where I live.

RudyS
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by RudyS » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:46 am

Kenkat wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:01 am
If you are planting on bare dirt that you have hauled in, you are probably fine to use one of the blends of fescue, bluegrass and rye. A local garden store could likely give you some good recommendations.

Make sure the soil is a bit roughed up, broadcast the seed over the planting area and add a starter fertilizer as well. Cover lightly with straw and water lightly once a day until the grass starts to sprout; then water every other day or so until you cut it for the first time at which point you can start to water less frequently - every few days to a week or so, more deeply as you spread the time out between watering. Follow up with an application of regular fertilizer high in Nitrogen (the first number) around Nov. 1.
Good process. We have, in mid-Michigan, a local garden supply store /pet supplies/ elevator that has been in business for 50 years. They sell perhaps a dozen seed varieties in bulk. Their recommendations usually work out fine for me.

surveyor
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by surveyor » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:56 am

Central Indiana here. I really like Black Beauty Ultra from Amazon. Comes in really dense (weed control) and has a really nice deep green color. In Michigan you might want to get any seed down asap. You'll see some quick germination with a mix but the really good bluegrasses take 3-4 weeks.

An alternative between plain seeding and sod is hydroseeding. You might find a local company that will know what works best.

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DanMahowny
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by DanMahowny » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:56 am

Kentucky Bluegrass is likely very popular in your region.

I'd recommend Tall Fescue.
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Cyclesafe
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Cyclesafe » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:59 am

As mentioned consult with your county ag service for seed recommendations. Bluegrass is the gold standard for the upper Midwest. A soil test may not really be necessary unless you have reason to believe that your soil is somehow different from the rest of the area.

Preparation is everything. If you are spot reseeding, you will be doing it with a different grass than the rest of your lawn. You will therefore always be able to tell where this was.

The better plan would be to spray your entire lawn in early fall with Roundup. In early spring, rake off the thatch, broadcast good topsoil and till down as deep as you can afford - at least 6 inches, repair your irrigation if necessary, pack and level the soil with a roller, drill new seed, water, and wait for your new lawn to be established - at least 8 weeks.

Patience is everything.

260chrisb
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by 260chrisb » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:13 am

KenKat is giving out pretty good advice! I'm in NE Indiana and buy seed (Kentucky Blue grass) at the local Rural King store in bulk and spread it liberally to repair or reseed areas that are not up to my standards and cover in straw. The mistake most people make is to not put down enough seed and to mow over it too soon or not buy good seed. Rough up the dirt (hopefully you've brought in top soil) and keep it watered. Seed generally germinates in 10-14 days this time of the year. Give it a chance to grow over the straw and bag it the first couple times you mow so you don't cover it with clipping. I had a zone in my irrigation system go down in the July heat and I did a reseed of about 40X10 that looks nearly as good as new 4 weeks later. I can still see the straw but the grass has recovered well.

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:43 am

Thanks for the advice. I hauled in about 30 bags of Miracle-Gro All Purpose Garden Soil and then leveled the area I was working on with a 8 ft beam I got from Home Depot. I buy the .75 cubic foot bags - Home Depot guys put it into my SUV, then I pull it into my wheel barrow, take it to the area, slit open the bag, rake it and seed it with my spreader. I call the .75 cub foot bag, a girls bag as I can lift it. I'm 74. I seed the area I was working on but did not have any straw so I roughed it over with the back of a rake. We had some heavy rains and much of the Kentucky Blue Grass flowed away and only some grew. So this morning I reseeded another area.

I have a lawn service and they are destroying my yard with their ride-on mower. I have yellow tape to keep them out of the areas on which I am working. I have another area in my front yard under a maple tree where the grass isn't doing well so I thought I might try a different variety of seed.

The gas company destroyed my neighbor's sidewalk between the walkway and street as they were installing a new gas line for a new monster house. The city sent out a lawn service to seed the lawn. The lawn guy said they would give me a good price on hauling in soil.

Maybe I've reached the physical limits of my limits of DIY. Next year I have to lower the lawn around a catch drain so the water will flow over a hump. I'll have to kill the grass, use my rotor tiller to loosen the soil, rake it, lower it, prepare the soil, seed .. and hope the water flows correctly. I got an informal quote of $11,000 to redirect the water to the catch basin. I would lose all my landscaping. So next year, I'll get other quotes.

All fun - I'm thinking of taking a Master Gardener's course next fall.

Thanks,

Lynette

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:31 am

jm1495 wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:26 am
visit www.aroundtheyard.com It's bogleheads for lawn care, seed etc.
Thank you.

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:41 am

DanMahowny wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:56 am
Kentucky Bluegrass is likely very popular in your region.

I'd recommend Tall Fescue.
Thank you Dan. I think that most of my lawns are Kentucky Bluegrass. I found this Scotts guide on identifying lawn types:

https://www.scotts.com/en-us/library/gr ... your-grass

At the moment my lawns are a mixture of Bluegrass and whatever Scotts and Pennington sell in their bags! I like the fineness of Bluegrass though it seems that newer varieties of Tall Fescue have been developed to make them heat tolerant and less in need of water though we have sufficient in the Detroit/Great Lakes area.

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:50 am

Kenkat wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:01 am
If you are planting on bare dirt that you have hauled in, you are probably fine to use one of the blends of fescue, bluegrass and rye. A local garden store could likely give you some good recommendations.

Make sure the soil is a bit roughed up, broadcast the seed over the planting area and add a starter fertilizer as well. Cover lightly with straw and water lightly once a day until the grass starts to sprout; then water every other day or so until you cut it for the first time at which point you can start to water less frequently - every few days to a week or so, more deeply as you spread the time out between watering. Follow up with an application of regular fertilizer high in Nitrogen (the first number) around Nov. 1.
Thanks. Most of our local nurseries seem to specialize more in shrubs and trees. I guess I could likely find one that knows about grass seed.

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dccboone
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by dccboone » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:29 pm

Anyone who has shopped recently for grass seed may have noticed many national brands now include a coating on their seed. I thought this was interesting from Consumers Digest. "A water-absorbing coating now is found in all-in-one and traditional grass-seed products. Scotts includes a water-absorbing coating in most of its grass-seed products. Unfortunately, that means that a 10-pound bag of Scotts grass seed consists of 5 pounds of grass seed and 5 pounds of an inert water-absorbing calcium material that coats the seeds, says John Thyssen, who is president of Oregon Seed Trade Association. In other words, you’re getting less actual grass seed than ever before.

Frankly, all of the research that we reviewed indicates that a water-absorbing coating has a minimal effect on germination. Richardson conducted independent trials with Pennington Smart Seed and its Penkoted water-absorbing coating and Scotts Turf Builder grass seed and its Zeba water-absorbing coating. He found that neither coating affected the germination percentage of most of the seed."

mw1739
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by mw1739 » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:49 pm

Seed Superstore has good seed varieties and well regarded blends. The prices are a little high, but the convenience can’t be beat.

jebmke
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by jebmke » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:57 pm

mw1739 wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:49 pm
Seed Superstore has good seed varieties and well regarded blends. The prices are a little high, but the convenience can’t be beat.
Southern States is also a good source. Lot's of pros use it around us.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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Cycle
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Cycle » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:15 pm

microclover and sun/shade midwest mix. You may need to buy the microclover online if you don't have a good local source.

The watering/weeding/fertilizer/time bill required for a monoculture lawn are not worth the uniformity look, IMO. The primary reason monoculture is popular is it requires a lot of products to support it, so there is sufficient money from that profitable business to run advertisements. Live simply, don't waste more time than you need on a lawn unless it's your hobby.

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:21 pm

dccboone wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:29 pm
Anyone who has shopped recently for grass seed may have noticed many national brands now include a coating on their seed. I thought this was interesting from Consumers Digest. "A water-absorbing coating now is found in all-in-one and traditional grass-seed products. Scotts includes a water-absorbing coating in most of its grass-seed products. Unfortunately, that means that a 10-pound bag of Scotts grass seed consists of 5 pounds of grass seed and 5 pounds of an inert water-absorbing calcium material that coats the seeds, says John Thyssen, who is president of Oregon Seed Trade Association. In other words, you’re getting less actual grass seed than ever before.

Frankly, all of the research that we reviewed indicates that a water-absorbing coating has a minimal effect on germination. Richardson conducted independent trials with Pennington Smart Seed and its Penkoted water-absorbing coating and Scotts Turf Builder grass seed and its Zeba water-absorbing coating. He found that neither coating affected the germination percentage of most of the seed."
I bought some Kentucky Bluegrass that I thought should have covered an area I was seeding and repairing. It did not. This is when I started to read the label to see what was going on. I had seeded an area with Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix that I had casually picked up from Home Depot and it looked different. The contents were:

9.76% Wendy Jean Creeping Red Fescue
9.75% Fenway Creeping Red Rescue
8.77% Citation Fore Perennial Ryegrass
8.28% Silver Dollar Perennial Ryegrass
6.34% Moonshine Kentucky Bluegrass
2.92% Abbey Kentucky Bluegrass
2.92% Right Kentucky Bluegrass
50% WaterSmart PLUS Fertilizer Coating
1% Inert from seed
0.25% other crop seed
0.01% weed seed

This led me into realizing that I had to read labels - just like for food.

I found an interesting article on the trends in seed as you mentioned. Another homeowner was struggling to establish a good lawn.

http://www.consumersdigest.com/lawn-gar ... r/view-all

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:31 pm

mw1739 wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:49 pm
Seed Superstore has good seed varieties and well regarded blends. The prices are a little high, but the convenience can’t be beat.
Thanks. I am bookmarking this for next spring. However, this is also confusing for a non-specialist as there are so many varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass. There seems to have been a lot of research into developing new varieties. I think that Tall Fescue was originally pasture grass. The other day I paid over $50 for a few small bags of seed. Maybe I'll plant this in limited areas tomorrow and see how it grows and how it looks.

I grew up in South Africa where grass simply grew. I was amused to research Kikuyu grass that we had. It is used in South Africa and Australia and originally came from East Africa. In most of the US it is banned and regarded as a noxious, invasive weed. I am in Zone 6 whereas Johannesburg is Zone 9. One learns!

Lynette
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by Lynette » Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:53 am

Cycle wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:15 pm
microclover and sun/shade midwest mix. You may need to buy the microclover online if you don't have a good local source.

The watering/weeding/fertilizer/time bill required for a monoculture lawn are not worth the uniformity look, IMO. The primary reason monoculture is popular is it requires a lot of products to support it, so there is sufficient money from that profitable business to run advertisements. Live simply, don't waste more time than you need on a lawn unless it's your hobby.
I am starting to realize that you are probably correct. However, I have an existing lawn and had to have extensive work done by a plumbing company install a new catch basin to take the runoff from a new driveway. The new catch basin ran via a new drain to another catch basin at the back of my property. Obvious a section of the the lawn got ripped up and had to be reseeded. I used the Sun and Shade Mixture by Scotts. The new section of the lawn that was repaired was a dark green whereas the rest of the grass was a light green. This is why I was trying to find seed to match the existing lawn so that I could repair the new sections that required work.

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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:34 am

surveyor wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:56 am
Central Indiana here. I really like Black Beauty Ultra from Amazon. Comes in really dense (weed control) and has a really nice deep green color. In Michigan you might want to get any seed down asap. You'll see some quick germination with a mix but the really good bluegrasses take 3-4 weeks.

An alternative between plain seeding and sod is hydroseeding. You might find a local company that will know what works best.
SE PA here. +1 for Jonathan Green's Black Beauty Ultra.
A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through

bkweathe
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Re: Types of seed for new lawn or sod?

Post by bkweathe » Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:23 pm

None of the above.

Please help our environment and save money & effort by using native plants for landscaping.

From an environmental perspective, lawns are barely better than concrete.

Why do you want a lawn? if it's because your HOA requires it, you're probably stuck with it. Otherwise, it's usually either a status symbol or a play surface. Maybe there are other.

For more information, I suggest:
lawnreform.org
wildones.org

Brad

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