QUESTION: I am a homeowner living in western North Carolina. I currently have a tall fescue lawn and I am planning on re-seeding this year. There are many brands of grass seeds being sold at garden centers and I wanted to get your opinion as to what is the ultimate best brand of tall fescue grass seed being sold out there.
I saw that you recommend a mix of tall fescue and bluegrass, therefore can you also recommend a certain mix brand?Also if you can recommend a certain brand of fertlizer it would be appreciated.ANSWER: Thanks for your e-mail. It is a good question, but it does not have a very straightforward answer. Have you ever walked into the fruit section of your supermarket to pick up apples and then had difficulty deciding which one you want? Granny Smith, Gala, Royal Gala, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Fuji, Braeburn, Jonagold, Cripps Pink, Cameo, Rome, . . . How do you decide? And then you have to pick which apples are best in the bin. I’m sure there are people that find slight differences in apples, perhaps some bake better, are more tart, etc. My wife likes to mix two specific ones for pie, saying it gives it the best flavor.
The same is true of all those grasses. Most of the brands sold at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. are good grasses. Perhaps some are a little better than others for shade or disease tolerance, etc. That is the reason why they are often mixed to give the best of more characteristics. Often the “Brand” reflects the company that has either developed the grasses in the bag or has purchased the right to market the particular grasses. Same with fertilizers. It is a little like buying Mountain Dew from Pepsi versus something else from Coke. The difference is more in the ingredients than in the “Brand”, although people sometimes identify with certain Brands.
We do have a list of grasses that perform well in our trials on our website (www.turffiles.ncsu.edu within the “Carolina Lawns” or using the Decision Aids, Turf/Cultivar selection) but in many cases we may not have tested all the grasses that are available in any given year (that can be upwards to 150 grasses for tall fescue alone). You can look at our list and try to find those grasses within individual bags---they are representative of several “Brands”. As for fertilizer, it is generally best to base that purchase on soil test recommendations---at least for the analysis of the fertilizer. The other content issue is primarily if you want all the fertilizer nutrients available soon after application or do you want it to slowly release the nutrients, or some combination (e.g., 50% soluble:50% slow release).
So, we do not recommend brands. That is a little like me telling you to buy a Ford, not a Chevrolet. I would suggest that you look at the contents and perhaps buy one that contains a cultivar off our list of tested cultivars and also get one with 0% weed seed and 0%other seed, or at least as low a percentage as you can find. There is no good that can come out of planting weeds with your new grass seed.
NTEP TRIALS: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/NTEP/Default.aspx#AR000904
CAROLINA LAWNS: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/PDFFiles/004175/CarolinaLawns2008.pdf
TURF SELECT: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/turfselect/