4 Things to Consider When Buying Grass Seed

There’s no feeling like wiggling your toes in lush, green grass, but growing that coveted lawn is harder than it may seem. Without the requisite considerations, a luxurious green bed will struggle to grow and thrive in any environment.

Making matters even more difficult is the fact that standard store-bought grass seed is often packed with inactive materials and lackluster seed varietals. Unfortunately, this rarely results in the beautiful, hearty lawn that homeowners are looking for.

Carefully selecting the right grass seed is without a doubt the smartest way to build a lawn, but with so many different breeds and varieties, which one is right for your lawn?

Don’t worry — we wouldn’t pose such a challenge without offering the tools you need to get the job done. Read on for a few tips on what to consider next time you buy grass seed, covering everything from regional and environmental factors to quality control measures and expected usage considerations.

Tip #1: Consider Your Climate

Begin your search for the best grass seed by looking around you. What is your weather and climate like? Is it warm most of the year, or does your state endure a harsh winter?

Before you choose a specific varietal, it’s important to narrow down the best grass types for your region. Warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Buffalo, and Zoysia are drought-tolerant and crave sunshine. On the other hand, cold-season grasses like Fine Fescue or Perennial Ryegrass flourish in partial shade and soil comprised of equal parts sand, silt, and clay.

Once you’ve narrowed down your climate, it should be pretty easy to determine if you’re in need of warm-season or cold-season grass.

Tip #2: Consider Your Region

When it comes to gardening, it’s best not to fight nature. Instead, start with nature on your side by choosing the right strain of grass seed for your region.

North America is comprised of many different climates with wildly different growing seasons. Know your growing zone and choose a grass that’s designed to flourish within your region.

Certain genetic attributes of grasses are designed to withstand the challenges of the environment, like tolerating high heat or surviving frost and snow. For example, in the Southeast where the soil is sandy and temperatures are extreme, a Bahia seed blend will prosper in the tricky soil and sweltering weather conditions.

Most regions encompass multiple states, and large states like Texas and California will often include several regions, so isolating your region will require more than just looking at a map. Consider the extremes that your area experiences over summer and winter, and if necessary consider getting a soil test to get an accurate picture of what your grass will have to work with.

Tip #3: Consider the Grass’s Purpose and Function

Whether your grass serves as purely ornamental or as a functional ground cover, you’ll want to consider its future purpose when choosing your grass seed. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will there be a lot of foot traffic or physical activity?
  • What is your soil like? Is it sandy, silty, or loamy?
  • Is your lawn mostly in the sun or shade?
  • How much natural rainfall will your lawn receive in an average week?

Once you determine the qualities you’d like in a lawn, begin narrowing down what varieties will suit your lawn’s purpose. Fine Fescue Grass, for example, tolerates low temperatures and thrives in an environment with little fertilizer and plenty of shade. Bermuda Grass, on the other hand, is a strong, warm-weather turf grass that holds up well to high traffic, like on golf courses or sports fields. 

Tip #4: Focus on Quality over Quantity

Not all grass seed is the same. In fact, most grass seed that’s available on consumer shelves masquerades as high-quality seed, when in fact it’s weak, fragile, and packed with empty filler.

In order to avoid buying seed blends with a superfluous filler or lackluster seed, evaluate your grass seed against these basic rules of thumb:

  • Weed seed should be no more than 0.5%
  • Noxious weeds are intolerable and should be at 0%
  • Empty filler and dormant matter should be no more than 2%
  • The germination rate should be 85% or more

The truth is, strong varieties of seed take time and knowledge to produce. Seed collectors and growers spend years breeding strains with hearty and aesthetic genetic traits, so it’s best to trust the experts over the mass-produced, low-cost blends that you’ll find at your local Wal-Mart.


Lawn care doesn’t need to be a headache or costly monthly investment. With the right grass seed, your lawn should be able to maintain itself (apart from watering and trimming, of course).

So, next time you’re in the market for grass seed, take a few moments to consider these four key factors:

  • Do I need warm-season or cold-season grass seed?
  • What grass seed is best for my region?
  • How will my grass be used?
  • What are my minimum quality standards?

Follow these guiding principles and you’ll enjoy a luscious, healthy lawn for years to come.