A GROWING CONCERN: Sowing the seeds of a beautiful lawn

Start with the right product

LAST WEEK, WE learned that grass is actually at acronym: Grueling, Repetitive, Annual, Seasonal, Service. We then found out that there are seven tenets that must be followed if one wants a lawn that consumes less time, money and resources.

So now, the rubber meets the road, and I am sure that more than half my readers have been turned off by the combination of three of these tenets, which dictate a raise mower height (3.5 to 3.75 inches), going fully organic in your weed and feed requirements, and finding out that a few weeds in your lawn are natural, tolerable and to be expected.

And that’s okay because people who are entrenched in ritual and cultural habits are extremely hard to change, and I will not continue to beat my head against a brick wall.

Besides, for the rest of you, I will now be preaching to the choir wanting to learn a new song.

Remember: The crux of this is switching your lawn to fescue and rye-grass, and away from Kentucky blues. These two species have their inherent advantages of being drought and disease resistant.

Today, I will answer questions about grass seed itself.

First; go to a co-op or farm and feed stores for your purchase or to order grass seed because they have large bags, 30, 40, and 50 pound bags.

They also have the best prices because the bags are simply marked — no slick photos are advertising gimmicks.

Next, they have a variety of suppliers, so if you do not see the bag of seed you need, ask them to order it. If they cannot or will not, find a new vendor, because that one really does not care much for your business or really cannot be bothered for your money.

Second: Quality is the name of the game.

Get the highest quality seed available.

High quality seed directly translates into high germination, high survivability, better vitality of seed, way fewer weeds, a more consistent lawn and over-seed.

In fact, the $10 to $30 you pay for the highest quality seed versus low or lowest quality seed will be the least of your cost.

Less than gas for the mower, less than a bag of fertilizer or lime, far less than the water bill and less than the priceless cost of headaches.

Third: Get the right seed for the sunlight conditions.

Always purchase full sun for full areas, shade mixes for the shade, and then blend the two for the filtered-light areas. When grass seed is sown in the wrong conditions, only the weeds will do well.

Fourth: Get the lowest possible weed-seed count mix you can purchase.

I only buy seed that starts with “0.00” and then whatever number follows because grass seed may germinate at 85 percent to 95 percent, but weed seed will sprout at 110 percent (don’t ask me how; must be a lot of twins).

We are trying to eradicate weeds, not grow new ones.

Fifth: Find the highest germination percentages possible.

Some grass varieties only germinate in the 80 percentiles, but as a whole, look and demand, if possible, grass seed that has a high 80s or in the 90s percent rate of germination.

Remember, we are trying to plug bare spots on the ground so we want to be able to rely on high germination and true rates of application.

Inexpensive almost always means lots of weeds and low germination rates.

Sixth: Always use mixes or blends because conditions vary in your lawn, and blends of seeds are formulated to colonize the entire area by each variety seeking out its ideal requirements.

Seventh: Get only mixes that are only rye and fescues.

Remember, that is what started this whole expose about grass; finding a mix that is disease and drought tolerant and will naturally stay green during our dry summers.

As a side note, if you have moss in your lawn, that is a function of poor drainage.

So either aerate or put in a drain field because over-seeding will do nothing to kill the moss, and that the seed will mostly die out.

But you — my readers, gardeners of the Peninsula, you will … stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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