Buying the Best Grass Seed to Grow in Maryland Lawns

Picking the right grass seed is crucial! It may seem like an easy task, and it is if you have some turfgrass knowledge. First, you need to know what type of seed you should buy. Then, you have to decide where to buy it. Last, make sure that you are buying the right product and read the label prior to purchase.
I learned a lot of this knowledge during my time at the University of Maryland. Although I studied accounting, I also took a few landscaping courses. Most of this article is comprised of information learned in my turfgrass management course.

What type of grass should you buy?

Turfgrass can be divided into two categories, warm season and cool season. In our climate, both can grow, but neither grow well. Warm season grass does fantastic in the summer but falls short during the spring, fall, and winter.  Cool season grass grows well in the spring and fall but goes dormant in the heat of summer and cold of winter.

Generally, I recommend cool season grass because it has the longest growing season in Maryland, looks better in my opinion, and has a more desirable feel on your skin.


Grass varieties

As I said, I would recommend purchasing a cool season grass. But there are still a few varieties to choose from.

Tall fescue is a great grass because it is resistant to pest and diseases in our area. Generally, it can tolerate stress better, whether it be heat, drought, or traffic. Tall fescue falls short in its ability to recuperate, though. It grows in bunches, so any bald spots will remain barren or start to grow weeds.

Kentucky bluegrass is another excellent choice. This variety of grass reproduces vegetatively. In short, over time bald patches in the lawn can regrow from underground roots. Disease and resistance are where Kentuck bluegrass falls short. It is susceptible to summer heat and disease.

Fine fescue is the last turfgrass variety worth talking about. The two varieties mentioned above are great, but neither one has the ability to grow well in the shade. Enter fine fescue. There are a few varieties of fine fescue, red fescue, chewings fescue, and hard fescue. Each one is a little different, but what makes fine fescues so great as a whole is their ability to grow in the shade and their low maintenance. Fine fescue has rhizomes, so they can fill in bald spots, too!

Knowing these three types of grasses will help you choose the proper product for your seeding needs. Usually, grass seed is sold as a blend and incorporates a few different types of grass into the mix. Make sure that the grass seed you purchase has the proper varieties to meet your goals.

Where to buy seed

You can get grass seed almost anywhere, Home Depot, Walmart, or your local hardware store. But, I don’t like any of these places.

Here’s why. These locations only sell generic big box brands that are sold all over the country. Maryland is one of the hardest places to grow grass. We have specific environmental factors that other regions of the country don’t.  So, I like to buy grass seed that is suited for the area I live in.

I drive to Fulton, MD to get my seed from Newsom Seed. I really like them because they are constantly reevaluating the quality of their seed mixes. Every year the University of Maryland publishes a report that lists the best cultivars of grass for the Maryland climate. Newsom reads this information and adjusts their seed blends to incorporate the latest, best growing cultivars into their seed blends.

Read the label

The last thing to do before making your purchase is check the label. Any grass seed being sold should have a label on it. This label will verify the quality of the seed, the type of seed, and the amount of seed.

For example, a shade mix should have high levels of fine fescue incorporated in them. See how the label below has the fine fescues we talked about earlier.

Now, look at one of the labels on a well known brand, Scotts. It’s embarrassing because they aren’t even selling you grass seed, they are selling you 92% inert matter (i.e. dirt, mulch, fertilizer.) They are preying on the customer’s lack of knowledge and taking advantage of their brand awareness, fancy packaging, and easy accessibility in home improvement stores.
This is a prime example of why you should read the label and make sure that you are getting what you pay for! Now you have the knowledge that you need to make sure you buy the right grass for your needs.

Make sure you got the key takeaways. Buy the right type of grass for your application. Get your seed from a trusted source. Newsom sells high-quality seed (not filler!) that is specifically tailored to grow in the Mid-Atlantic. Finally, double check the label on the seed packaging. You may find out that the seed you are buying is actually 92% something else!

Thanks for reading!

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