Grass Seed Planting Guide

best grass seed planting guide

Are cool season grasses ideal for Ohio? What about the best grass seed for Texas — is it the same for Utah? Do you need grass seed that will grow on concrete and help you reclaim a long-neglected landscape? Here’s a guide that will help you discover the best type of grass seeds for your home lawn so you can sleep tonight knowing all your domestic needs are taken care of. :-)

Let’s begin.

What Type of Grass Seed to Use?

Cool Season Grasses

Usually, a few types of cool season grasses are blended together to form the ultimate lawn resistant to drought, weeds, pests, disease, and cold weather. Why? Because it makes sense — you’ll see when you read more.

Kentucky Bluegrass

The good: Kentucky bluegrass is a beautiful plant, growing 18 to 24 inches in glorious height; the bad: it as also high-maintenance and has shallow roots. Think of this grass as the stereotypical beautiful being that has failed to develop some depth.

Alone, Kentucky bluegrass needs a lot of watering and fertilizer attention to flourish. The grass spreads by rhizomes, forming a dense sod, but root growth requires a temperature range between 60 and 80 degrees. It does not hold nutrients and water well, so please mix this seed with ryegrass and fescues to create a hybrid, durable lawn.

If you have your heart set on Kentucky bluegrass, you may be in luck though — many cultivars of this grass are bred for specific qualities (drought and shade tolerance, turf thickness, etc.) — ask your local nursery if they can help you match a variety to your soil conditions and climate. There are more than 100 varieties of Kentucky bluegrass around, so use as many as are suitable for your area. Not all variations are susceptible to the same diseases and harmful conditions at once, so this is a good way to toughen your lawn.

Plant 2 to 3 pounds of seeds per 1000 square feet of lawn. You can spread this seed all year, but spring and fall are best.

Perennial Ryegrass

Not to be confused with annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass is a beautifully thick, green, fast-growing lawn that will grow faster than weeds and handle heavy foot traffic.

Perennial ryegrass needs lots of sun, good drainage, and acidic soil. It will tolerate periods of low moisture (drought resistance is a must these days) and high temperatures BUT will not be happy in areas of extended periods of over 90 degrees.

Low-maintenance Fescues

The perennial drought-resistant grass, fescues are highly versatile, with many varieties touting shade-tolerant qualities too.

Turf-type tall-fescue remains dark green during most of the year and does not require a lot of nitrogen. If you experience a hot summer and notice the lawn is waning, add more seed (called over-seeding) to the existing lawn, or just ignore it and your lawn will recover on its own the next spring or after a cold spell.

Fescues can develop a deep root system, thus making it a top drought-resistant grass choice, and, unlike non-turf-forming fescues that can tend to clump, tall fescue creates a smooth lawn and easily handles foot traffic.

Creeping red fescue is also dark green and often mixed with tall-fescue and blues. This variety makes a great lawn because of its creeping nature and ability to cover gaps. It does not hold up as well to foot traffic though, and grows in clumps. The more sunshine it gets, the more readily it will spread across the lawn. Creeping red is drought-resistant and low maintenance.

Hard fescue is the badass of the bunch. This one is both heat and cold tolerant, grows slowly in clumps, boasts a blue-green color, is highly disease resistant, and can live happily under temporary shade and in drought conditions.

Warm Season Grasses, Going Solo

Unlike cool season grasses, warm season grasses are not often mixed together. Applying one seed per lawn is common because these grasses have different growth rates, color and appearance. The two most popular warm seas grass types are Bermuda grass and St. Augustine.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda is the coveted grass seed used on golf courses on Southern fairways.

It is a high-maintenance grass, however, required lots of sunlight and nitrogen to keep it green, not to mention mowing. The soil needs to be very healthy, rich in organic matter and microbial activity — this will enable the soil to produce the nitrogen it needs naturally so you can skip the synthetic fertilizers. This grass can grow in many kinds of soil conditions, from deep sands to heavy soils, as long as the soil is nutrient-rich.

Growing Bermuda Grass: Bermuda grass grows best in areas where average daily temperatures hover around 75 degrees, and average daytime temperatures are around 95 to 100. Sounds like a good place to be.

Soil temperatures need to be at least 65 degrees (80 degrees is best for optimal plant growth). It prefers areas that get between 25 and 100 inches of rainfall a year, otherwise an irrigation system is needed for less than 20 inches of rain per year.

St. Augustine Grass

Another high-maintenance grass, St. Augustine grass can only be planted as sod because the seeds are not commercially available.

  • Not a good organic lawn; does not resist weeds or insects well.
  • Requires frequent fertilizing and mowing and pest control.
  • Good: grows fast and spreads quickly; handles shade and foot traffic decently.
  • Grows best in moist, coastal areas with mild winters and high summer temperatures.
  • 5.0 to 8.5 soil pH levels are okay for St. Augustine grass
  • Needs over 30 inches of annual rainfall

Bahia Grass

Organic lawn lover’s dream. Bahia grass is drought-resistant, disease resistant AND pest resistant. Bahia may not be the prettiest grass ever, but its qualities make it ideal for the environmentally friendly homeowner. This grass is aggressive in nature, so you my not be able to control where it grows. Identify this plant by its Y-shaped seed head.

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is the ideal low-maintenance grass for the busy professional without kids. It spreads quickly, tolerates drought, resists weeds and pests, and requires little mowing, watering or fertilizing.

The main downside of this grass is that it doesn’t handle foot traffic as well as the other types. Unlike other grasses, centipede grass does not enter a true dormancy stage in the winter, and thus freezing cold can kill it.

This course-textured perennial spreads by stolons and features short, upright stems that resemble centipedes. This grass is often found inn sandy, acidic soils in areas with over 40 inches of annual rainfall. It prefers full sunlight but can handle shady areas, too.


Drought (and everything else) tolerant Zoysia grass is an interesting grass that does well in the south and also further north in some cool season and transitional areas. It is a thick, slow-growing grass that requires less mowing than the faster-growing St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses.

Zoysia grass is disease and pest resistant, drought tolerant and tolerates foot traffic well. It does best in soil with a pH between 5.8 and 7.5, and sunny growing temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees.

Once established, Zoysia requires little water. Wait until the blades of grass begin to wilt slightly, then give the lawn less than an inch of water to encourage deeper roots and increase the lawn’s drought tolerance.

Zoysia grows densely, so to avoid problems with thatch, be sure to aerate your lawn in the spring and fall.

Transitional Grasses

Wide-ranging temperatures in the transitional areas of the United States call for different types of grasses native to these areas (plus the ever adaptable fescues).

Buffalo Grass

A true prairie grass, Buffalo grass is a green to blue-green low-maintenance thin turf grass that is extremely drought resistant and requires little nitrogen.

It grows best in areas with 15 to 30 inches of rainfall per year. It does not do well in areas with heavy traffic or a lot of shade.

If sowing from seed, chill the seeds at 5 to 10 degrees or six to eight weeks before sowing, to allow them to germinate successfully, for planting in April and May.

Little Bluestem

This little clumpy prairie grass is blue-green in color, drought tolerant and requires little mowing.

It tends to brown in the cold season, so many manufacturers mix it with hard fescue to ensure a green winter lawn. Bluestem grass likes well-drained, medium to dry soils with 7.0 or higher pH. Native to the Great Plains, it can reach up to 4 feet in height.

What Type of Grass Seed is Best For You?

Best Grass Seed Types for Your Lawn

Find the best grass seed for your lawn by climate, use and maintenance.
Grass Types
Maintenance RequirementWater RequirementTolerance to Foot TrafficHeat ToleranceCold ToleranceShade Tolerance
Kentucky BluegrassHighHighHighLowHighHigh
Perennial RyegrassLowMediumHighMediumMediumHigh
Turf-type Tall FescuesLowLowMediumMediumMediumMedium
Creeping Red FescuesLowLowMediumLowMediumMedium
Chewings FescueLowLowLowMediumMediumHigh
Hard FescueLowLowLowMediumMediumMedium

Grass Types
Maintenance RequirementWater RequirementTolerance to Foot TrafficHeat ToleranceCold ToleranceShade Tolerance
St. AugustineHighMediumMediumMediumLowMedium

Grass Types
Maintenance RequirementWater RequirementTolerance to Foot TrafficHeat ToleranceCold ToleranceShade Tolerance
Little BluestemLowLowMediumMediumMediumLow