Best Grass Seed For Weeds

For beautiful, healthy grass, it’s important that you apply the correct seed. Learn the best grass seed to use in northern Virginia, along with professional tips on seeding your lawn. What you need to know about buying grass seed for lawns in Maryland. STEP 3 – Is Bluegrass, Fescue or Ryegrass Best for Long Island Lawns? A common question from homeowners is: which is the best grass to choose for their Long Island lawn? The related question is,

What’s the Best Grass Seed for My Lawn in Northern Virginia?

When you picture the lawn of your dreams, you certainly aren’t picturing one with thinned out areas, discoloration, or weeds popping up. You’re imagining a lawn that the neighbors envy—that is, one that is thick, green, and weed-free.

While you likely know that various lawn care efforts go into making a lawn look that way (great lawns don’t just happen, they’re created), what you may not know is just how much impact the seed being used will have. In fact, you might even assume that all lawn care companies are using the same type of seed—but this just isn’t the case.

For beautiful, healthy grass, it is important that you make your seed selection wisely, which may mean turning to a professional for guidance. When it comes to choosing the best grass seed for Northern Virginia, we are here to guide you.

Choosing the Best Grass Seed for Northern Virginia

It’s very important to recognize that choosing grass seed is much more complex than just heading to the nearest box store and picking up a bag of seed. If you’ve been to a big box store and looked at seed, you already know there are an overwhelming number of types and brands of seeds.

A poor choice could leave you with more hassle than you started with. That’s because some seed blends contain filler (which can produce untreatable weeds). In addition, some turf types don’t work well in our region and yet they are still available to buy around here.

We understand how confusing these options can be for you.

But purchasing high-quality grass seed is really important. You don’t want to end up with weeds in your lawn due to using a low-quality product that has weed seeds mixed in. When homeowners see one or two bare spots in their yard, sometimes the inclination is just to grab a bag of seed and quickly take care of it themselves. But this really could do more harm than good by introducing unwanted weeds into your yard that will only spread.

Unfortunately, the grass seed purchased in big box stores is simply not going to be of the same high quality as that which is used by a reputable landscape professional.

The word “reputable” is important there. While we’d like to say that no so-called professional would ever use low-quality grass seed, the fact is, many do it to cut cost. This is certainly taking advantage of homeowners who don’t recognize that there is a difference between seed quality and it, unfortunately, happens all the time.

Even professionals get what they pay for. And the products available to them vary in price and quality as well.

The Best Northern Virginia Grass Types

So what type of grass should be used for Northern Virginia lawns?

Without a doubt, turf-type tall fescue is the best-adapted turfgrass for Northern Virginia lawns. That’s because it tends to have the deepest root system of the different types of cool-season grasses. It can use water from deeper within the soil and therefore resist drought and continue to perform well in a variety of weather conditions.

But with more than 100 cultivars of tall fescue, there are even choices within this category.

To dig even deeper, you specifically want to know, what is the best grass seed for Northern Virginia?

At Turf’s Up, we are using a top-rated blue-tag fescue, which is ideally suited to our region. The seed selection that we’ve made is based on years of studies performed by researchers like those at Virginia Tech. This particular grass seed has been studied and proven to be a top performer.

The specific commercial-grade product that we’ve chosen is a blended turf-type tall fescue, meaning that it is not a single cultivar, but instead, several in order to provide the best possible performance.

The blue tag certification means that it contains no weed filler.

In addition, this particular seed is also special because it is coated in starter fertilizer in order to provide faster germination. Our grass is usually growing in a third of the time of most grass seeds—often times as quickly as within a week. Average grass seed is going to take as long as 3 weeks to even start growing.

Encouraging Grass to Grow with Supporting Services

Of course, actually getting your grass off to the best possible start requires more than just tossing down some seed. Your professional lawn care company should also perform valuable services like lawn aeration and topdressing to start your lawn the right way.

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A lawn aeration service is performed by running a commercial-grade aerator across your lawn. At Turf’s Up, we always do a double pass giving you the best possible results. We find that a lot of our competitors do not perform a double pass when aerating.

The best time to seed the lawn is immediately following lawn aeration when the seeds can fall into the holes that we created in the lawn.

The fall weather provides the ideal conditions for seed germination, increasing the odds that your new grass will survive and mature. To perform a lawn seeding service, we use push spreaders that are correctly set to properly seed your lawn at five pounds per thousand square feet.

Finally, in order to achieve the best possible results, topdressing the lawn with compost is a lawn service best-performed right after aeration and overseeding. The idea is for the compost to mix with the existing clay soil.

Topdressing is a lawn care secret that many haven’t heard of, but it has long been a standard practice in the golf course industry. These days many more homeowners are using a topdressing service to achieve the lush green lawn they desire.

Topdressing is a great way to build a healthy balance in your soil by increasing healthy soil microorganisms, all while improving soil structure.

When is the Best Time to Plant Grass in Northern Virginia?

Seeding is best done in the fall because the weather conditions are ideal for new grass growth. While the soil is still warm, the air is cool. This provides the best possible growing conditions for seed germination which, in turn, improves the chance of new grass survival.

To be even more specific, the best time to plant grass in Virginia is between September 1 and October 31, but that’s not to say that we wouldn’t go a little later. The trouble is, as we get into November, the temperatures begin to drop more rapidly.

If we were to perform seeding after October 31, we’d likely use a process called slit seeding (or “slice seeding”).

This method utilizes a piece of machinery called a slit seeder to make ½ inch to 1-inch deep slices in the ground with its vertical blades. Grass seed is then dropped into these slices. By creating these deep slices, the seed ends up in contact with the soil, where it will germinate best. With slit seeding, the new grass seed will be more protected from the colder temperatures.

Achieving the Lawn of Your Dreams

The best lawns begin with the best seed—and the specialized attention of a professional who knows how to grow grass as well as care for it as it grows and matures.

By choosing Turf’s Up for seeding and other lawn care needs at your Northern Virginia home, you can ensure that you’re getting the best possible seed on the market for our region. You can also be sure that your lawn is getting the care and attention that it needs to thrive. When it comes to having the lawn of your dreams, you need nothing less than the best.

If you’re ready to have the lawn of your dreams at your Ashburn, Aldie, or Leesburg, VA home, talk to an expert, choose a solution, and get ready to watch that dream take shape today.

Grass Seed

Turf-type tall fescue is the recommended grass species for Maryland. It does well in all parts of the state.

Purchasing grass seed

  • Buy high-quality seed. Poor quality seed is low in viability and contains weed seeds or undesirable grass species.
  • Select a turfgrass species that is suited for the site conditions. Then refer to the University of Maryland Technical Update, TT 77 Turfgrass Cultivar Recommendations for Certified Sod and Professional Seed Mixtures in Maryland (PDF), for recommended cultivars.
  • All grass seed for sale has a tag or label on the package listing basic information that indicates the seed quality. Read the information before purchasing the seed to help achieve satisfactory results.
  • Grass seed labeled as ‘Maryland Certified Seed’ (tested for germination and purity by the Maryland Department of Agriculture) is available in select locations such as garden centers, turf supply stores, specialty seed suppliers, or farm supply stores and typically contains UMD recommended cultivars. If MD Certified Seed cannot be located, look carefully on seed tags for the type of grass, variety, percentage of weed seeds, and percentage of noxious weeds. Refer to Sample Grass Seed Label below.
  • For the majority of sites, tall fescue is the recommended type of grass. Refer to Seed Mixtures and Blends below.

Sample Grass Seed Label

  • Seed blend or mixture name created by seed supplier.
  • Lot number used to track seed information back to the original site of production.
  • The official date on which the germination test was conducted. To ensure a high germination rate use seed within one year of purchase. As seed ages, the percentage of viable seed decreases, resulting in poor establishment.
  • Purity is the percentage by weight of each type of grass and cultivar or variety contained in the blend or mixture.
  • Variety or type of grass and cultivar. Refer to the University of Maryland Technical Update (PDF) TT 77 Turfgrass Cultivar Recommendations for Certified Sod and Professional Seed Mixtures in Maryland for the list of recommended cultivars.
  • Germination rate is the percentage of pure seed that is viable and will grow.
  • The origin where the seed was produced. Oregon’s ideal weather conditions for seed production of cool-season grasses makes it a large producer of quality grass seed.
  • Name and address of seller or supplier
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Other crop seeds

  • Inert matter including chaff, soil, and debris. This value should be as low as possible. Inert matter is contained in the bag but doesn’t actually grow.
  • Percentage by weight of other agriculture crop seeds or undesirable grass seed. This number should be between zero and 0.5%. Avoid purchasing seed that contains Lolium multiforum (annual ryegrass), also called Italian ryegrass. This annual grass is found in inexpensive grass seed, only lives for one year, and makes it difficult for the desired grass species to become established.
  • Percentage by weight of weed seed. This number should be close to 0.00%.
  • Avoid purchasing seed that lists a percentage of noxious weeds.

Seed mixtures and blends

  • Seed is commonly sold in mixtures or blends.
  • A mixture is a combination of two or more grass species, e.g. tall fescue (should be the highest percentage), perennial ryegrass (no more than 5%-10% of the mixture), and Kentucky bluegrass (5%-10%).
  • A blend is three or more cultivars of the same species.
  • Mixtures and blends are popular because they increase the genetic diversity of your lawn. Certain grass species and cultivars are more susceptible to disease and insect problems, so using mixtures and blends increases your lawn’s ability to resist diseases and overcome insect infestations.
  • Mixtures are a good option if growing conditions vary throughout your yard. For additional information on seed, mixture recommendations refer to (PDF) TT 77 Turfgrass Cultivar Recommendations for Certified Sod and Professional Seed Mixtures in Maryland

High traffic areas

A mixture of turf-type tall fescue (90%- 95%) and Kentucky bluegrass (5%-10%) is an excellent lawn turf. The spreading root system of the Kentucky bluegrass will help the turf recover if injured from excessive traffic, drought, or pest damage.

Full sun areas

A blend of turf-type tall fescue or a single recommended cultivar.

Full sun to moderate shade areas

Turf-type tall fescue is recommended. A single cultivar or a blend.

Growing grass in shady areas

Fine fescues are the most shade tolerant of all the cool-season grasses, with hard fescue being the best choice for Maryland. Warm-season grasses, like zoysia, need full sun and are not suitable for shady areas.

How much grass seed to plant?

Grass-type Lawn establishment grass seed rate Overseeding grass seed rate
Turf-type tall fescue 6-8 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. 4 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft.
Kentucky bluegrass 2-3 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. 1.5 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft.
Fine fescue 4-5 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. 2.5 lbs. per l,000 sq ft.

By Debra Ricigliano, Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist, University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), 2019. Reviewed and edited by Jon Traunfeld, HGIC Director, and Christa Carignan, HGIC Coordinator, Digital Horticulture Education.
Based on HGIC publication HG 102 Lawn Establishment, Renovation, and Overseeding.

STEP 3 – Is Bluegrass, Fescue or Ryegrass Best for Long Island Lawns?

A common question from homeowners is: which is the best grass to choose for their Long Island lawn? The related question is, which grass seed is the best from the perspective of a low-maintenance lawn? Or, which is the best seed choice for an organic lawn?

The short answer is that on Long Island, tall fescues require less fertilizer and watering and are easier to grow without chemical pesticides. In contrast, Kentucky bluegrass may need twice as much fertilizer, and will need significantly more watering during dry weather. Organic landscapers will generally say that tall fescues are the best for Long Island, but many people prefer Kentucky bluegrass for it’s deep green color and soft feel under bare feet. We believe that tall fescues are perhaps the “best” choice for environmentally-friendly, low-maintenance Long Island lawns, but if you feel strongly about wanting a bluegrass lawn and you understand that it is somewhat higher maintenance, then it is possible to maintain either type organically. The choice is yours.

For shady areas that get only a few hours of sunlight a day and little traffic, a fine fescue is the best choice. For filling in bare patches before weeds take hold, ryegrass will germinate more quickly. Bluegrass is hardiest in high traffic areas and grows in a thick mat that chokes out weeds.

A blend of different grass types will provide your lawn with resistance to pests and changing weather conditions. Many commercially available bags of grass seed are pre-blended for different lawn characteristics and uses. Because of their different growth habit, tall fescues do not mix well with other types. If you choose tall fescue, look for a blend that is composed entirely of tall fescue strains.

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If you choose a fescue or ryegrass blend, you can opt for endophyte-enhanced seed, which includes a symbiotic, beneficial fungus that helps the grass grow more vigorously, and resist drought and pest damage. Kentucky bluegrass is not available with endophytes.

For an extreme low-maintenance option, consider zoysia grass. Zoysia grass inspires both love and hatred among people who love their lawns. On the plus side, it is very hardy warm season grass, resistant to heat and drought. Zoysia requires less water and fertilizer. It is slow growing, so it does not need to be mowed as frequently. It creates a thick, sturdy mat of turf, and is soft underfoot. This makes zoysia a good choice for a low-maintenance, organic lawn. However, there are a few downsides to zoysia. It spreads aggressively, often where it is not wanted – into flowerbeds and neighboring lawns. It turns brown when it goes dormant in cool weather, in Long Island’s climate that can sometimes be early in the fall. Zoysia is more prone to thatch problems than other grasses, and because it is so thick and tough, it can be hard on mowers.

A zoysia grass lawn is usually established by planting plugs, not by seeding. The grass spreads out from the plugs. This can take as little as one growing season, or up to three. Zoysia grass is difficult to remove once it is established, so planting it is a long-term decision.

The best time of year to apply grass seed is late summer into early fall. You can also seed in the spring. After new seed is applied is the one time to break the recommended protocol for watering. The general rule is to water infrequently, but when you do, water deeply. With new seed however, you need to water your lawn very lightly each day for about 3 weeks.

There is more than one way to apply grass seed. To thicken up established turf without completely tearing up and reseeding the entire lawn area, you can “overseed.” This can help your grass to fill in light spots and crowd out weeds like crabgrass without using herbicides. Mow low, then rake to remove dead grass and thatch. You can also aerate before you seed for best results. Follow the instruction on the bag for the overseeding application rate. (If the bag doesn’t have an overseeding rate, use half the amount recommended for establishing new turf.) Spreading a quarter inch of compost as a top dressing after seeding will help too. Water lightly daily until the seeds germinate and blades sprout, about 3 weeks. Stay off the lawn and don’t mow until the new shoots are well established.

Another approach, which uses more grass seed but doesn’t take as much work is called “repetitive” overseeding. Just spread grass seed at 3 lbs. per 1000 square feet, once a week, after mowing, directly over the established lawn for between three to eight weeks. No other preparation is required. You don’t have to water if there is normal rainfall. You also don’t need to keep people off the lawn for weeks. It works when there is light traffic on the lawn. Of course not all the seeds will germinate, but you make up for that by putting more seed down. This technique can make your lawn up to 90% thicker, and make it much more likely to grow grass rather than weeds. The ideal time for repetitive overseeding is the fall (starting right after Labor Day, through September and even into mid-October if it stays warm enough).

While this educational series is devoted to lawn maintenance, we recognize that some Long Islanders may want a less water-intensive landscaping option (also known as “xeriscaping”), or an option that is low maintenance to the point of being almost no maintenance. Strategically incorporating gravel, rocks, sculptural features, ornamental grasses and wildflowers into your landscaping is an alternative to maintaining a suburban lawn. Local stores including Hick’s Nursery, Home Depot, Long Island Landscape Center, and Long Island Natives each sell native and ornamental grasses and drought-resistant succulents. The nonprofit Long Island Native Grass Initiative provides information and sale of 40 species of native grasses, flowering plants, and shrubs by appointment.

For those who choose to utilize decorative plants rather than maintaining a lawn, there is increasing interest in wildflowers and native ornamental grasses for Long Island landscapes.

    (LINGI) (Howard Garrett)

Long Island Organic Landscapers
Although it’s easy for the average homeowner to maintain their lawn organically, some may too busy and wish to hire a professional. In that case there are thousands of landscapers on Long Island to choose from, but only a small but growing number of experts who can maintain your lawn and landscape without the use of chemical pesticides. They can be found here.