smokin’ grass

A small portion of our new yard will be reserved for grass. What do I know about grass seed? Nada. But I do know the people at University of Rhode Island Turf Grass Program have researched everything for me, so all I have to do is dig up the right information. Here’s what I’ve found out so far.

the lawn next door

There are two kinds of grass categories in the U.S.: cool-season grasses of the North and warm-season grasses of the South. We’re cool! Who knew?

The most successful lawns are made up of not just one kind of seed but a variety that combine multiple strengths. We’d like to end up with a lawn that requires relatively low water usage and chemical-free maintenance while taking a beating from a 5-year-old.

You can customize your seed mix to fit your specific site situation. For us, that means seed that covers a mix of sun and shade.

There are a number of websites where you can customize your seed mix. The one we’re going with is the Seed Super Store. They also offer an option to plug in your zip code and, whether you need seed for lawn or shade, get a seed mix recommendation. For my area, it recommends:

SS5000: This outstanding sunny mixture combines three superior Kentucky Bluegrass varieties with our best fine fescue and perennial ryegrass to produce a lush, dark green lawn. Contains equal parts of Midnight, Bedazzled and NuChicago bluegrass, and Zodiac chewings fescue and Amazing GS perennial ryegrass.

The URI Master Gardeners’ site claims this sunny mix is “basically a URI #1 with improved varieties,” which assures me the Seed Super Store people know what they’re doing.

Like they say, it’s always greener on the other side of the fence. With any luck we’ll be the other side.


A few bookmarks for this post:

Green Acres: A great article from This Old House on lawn seeding, with insight from a URI professor of plant sciences.

Turfgrasses recommended by URI for Rhode Island… or get recommendations for where you live from your cooperative extension office.

Another source for Best seed choices for Rhode Island.

Organic Landscaping site by Harvard’s Facilities Maintenance Operations: I can’t overstate how amazing their recent dedication to organic landscaping practices is (Fall ’09) — including its many, many lawns. A fantastic resource for landscaping without chemicals and how to create compost and compost tea for healthier soil, turf and plants.

Excellent organic landscaping how-to video featuring Harvard’s program, as seen on This Old House.

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