Seed Selection Made Easy


By: Nick Gialloreto, Territory Manager

Seeding can be a tricky subject.  There are hundreds of varieties, a number of species, and even more recommendations.  So, where do you possibly start?  First and foremost, figure out the environment in which the seed will be expected to grow. Narrow down your options with the following questions:

  • Is there irrigation? 
  • Will there be heavy traffic? 
  • What time of year is it? 
  • What species already exist? 
  • Will the fields be used while the seed is getting established?

Perennial Ryegrass is great, and in fact some will argue it is the only species, for establishing turf while the field is in use.  There have been a number of universities, including Iowa State and Penn State, to study this exact problem.  In these studies Perennial Ryegrass has always out performed Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) and Turf Type Tall Fescues (TTTF).  Some studies suggest ryegrass is the only species that will consistently germinate and establish under traffic.  However, ryegrass does not handle heat, drought, or traffic as well as KBG and TTTF.  Ryegrass is great for seeding in-season, using in divot mixes, and getting a quick ground cover established.  It has higher seeding rates of 6-9 lbs/M because of the large seed size and does not fill in bare spots, as it is a tillering species.  New tetraploid ryegrass is helping to make rye a more suitable species for all occasions.  The tetraploids have crowns that sit lower in the soil, which helps protect the plants from drought and wear.

  • Best option for seeding during high traffic
  • Great for divot mixes & quick ground cover
  • Low stress tolerance
  • 6-9 lbs. per M

Kentucky Bluegrass is considered by some to be the Cadillac of cool season grasses.  Once established, it is the most wear resistant and has good drought tolerance.  Its rhizomatous growth habit allows it to spread quickly and withstand a lot of wear.  Its long establishment time frame, 3-6 weeks makes it nearly impossible to grow under traffic and late in the season.  Overseeding with KBG during the off-season or during periods of light use are the best options.  Many field managers like to have new fields that are 100% KBG and then slowly work in P. Rye or TTTF as the field wears out.  Seeding rates are lower than P. Rye at 1-3 lbs/M which helps offset the price.

  • Best for overseeding off-season or during periods    of light use
  • Very good stress tolerance
  • Establishes in 3-6 weeks
  • 1-3 lbs. per M

Turf Type Tall Fescues (TTTF) are relatively new to the market, but they have a nice niche.  They have been bred to decrease leaf texture and now blend in fairly well with KBG and P Rye.  They are very drought resistant, making them great for non-irrigated fields, and handle wear very well.  Their establishment time is between P. Rye and KBG, about 3 weeks, and their seeding rate is the same as P. Rye at 6-9 lbs/M.  They have a great price point and good disease resistance.  It’s important to note, if the turf begins to thin, the leaf blades can revert back to the courser texture.  However, if the turf density is re-established, the texture will revert back to fine.  TTTF’s popularity is growing, and it’s no accident!

  • Great option fornon-irrigated fields
  • Excellent stress tolerance
  • Establishes in 3 weeks
  • 6-9 lbs. per M

Before seed is purchased, have a plan in place.  KBG and TTTF are great to use while fields are sitting vacant or at low use.  P. Rye is the best option for establishing seed during high traffic. The reputable seed companies will be able to tell you the pros and cons of their varieties.  Also, ask other turf managers in your area what has worked well for them, and use that as a starting point for your research.