Grass seed can resist disease and fungus while quickly turning your lawn green. We researched the top options for warm climates, heavy traffic, and more. Everything you need to know about planting new grass or improving your current lawn in 3 easy steps. Plus additional tips for seeding aftercare. See why DIY Lawn Fertilizer from Home Depot and Lowes vs Online Retailers are better and more cost effective per square foot than you might think!
7 Best Grass Seed Products to Restore a Patchy Lawn
The winner is the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix
Theresa Holland is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, cleaning, and bedding. She shares her favorite life hacks on her blog The Taboo Textbook.
Barbara Gillette is a master gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Sarah Scott is a fact-checker and researcher who has worked in the custom home building industry in sales, marketing, and design.
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The Spruce / Laurey W. Glenn
Grass seed can grow a lawn from scratch, make existing turf thicker, or target unsightly bald patches and brown spots. We researched and tested grass seed from the top brands, evaluating ease of use, effectiveness, and formulation.
Our top pick, the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix, is a versatile blend that stands up well to drought and disease and can seed up to 8,000 square feet of lawn—an eighth of a football field.
Here is the best grass seed for sprucing up your yard.
Best Overall: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix
Courtesy of Amazon
Thrives in sun and shade
Holds up in droughts and cold winters
Not suited for Southern lawns
Who else recommends it? Bob Vila also picked Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun and Shade Mix.
What do buyers say? 82% of 29,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix thrives in scorching sunlight or densely shaded conditions, making it our top choice. This fine-bladed grass mix can even hold up in droughts and cold winters. It begins to grow in five to ten days; you can mow it after blades reach three inches in height. For optimum growth, water your lawn twice daily for three weeks.
Each individual seed, wrapped in a special WaterSmart Plus coating, absorbs twice the amount of water as its uncoated counterparts. The coating also protects your seedlings from various lawn diseases, and feeds them essential nutrients to jump-start growth. Although this mix tolerates extreme weather changes, Scott’s does not recommend using it in Southern states.
Sun Tolerance: Dense Shade to Full Sun | Climate: Drought, Cold Winters | Size: Up to 8,000 square feet | Grass Texture: Fine
Best for Shade: Pennington One Step Complete for Dense Shade Areas
Courtesy of The Home Depot
Formulated with mulch and fertilizer
Great for spot treatments or larger areas
Suited for Midwestern lawns
Not for warm-season lawns
Pennington One Step Complete blends the brand’s Smart Seed with mulch and professional-grade fertilizer, allowing the lawn to thrive in densely shaded areas. This all-in-one grass seed sprouts seedlings in as little as two weeks, even in the tricky corners of your lawn that don’t see more than two to four hours of direct sunlight a day. Whether you’re growing a lawn from scratch or just looking to patch up sparse areas, this ultra-absorbent mixture is a quick and easy solution for achieving a lush, spot-free yard.
Sun Tolerance: Dense Shade | Climate: Cool-season | Size: 125 square feet | Grass Texture: Medium
Best for Full Sun: JB Instant Lawn Signature Sunny Premium Lawn Seed
Courtesy of Lowe’s
Works with new and existing lawns
Comes in various sizes
Not suited for Midwestern lawns
JB Instant Lawn’s Sunny Blend is formulated for direct sunlight. It loves clear skies and flourishes in non-shaded areas with daily sun exposure of six or more hours. The brand’s signature perennial ryegrass seed produces thick, sod-quality lawns with fine blades and a deep green hue. You can plant it with your existing grass, or use to grow a lawn from scratch with a germination period of seven to ten days.
Sun Tolerance: Full Sun | Climate: Cool-season | Size: 1,000 square feet (max overseeding coverage area), 600 square feet (max new seeding coverage area) | Grass Texture: Fine
Best for Cool Season: Barenbrug Winter Wonderlawn Super Over Seeding Grass Seed
Courtesy of Tractor Supply
Thrives in sun and partial shade
Stands up to heavy traffic
Not suited for Northern lawns
For the chillier season, keep a bag of Winter Wonderlawn on hand. Containing a blend of Italian and perennial ryegrass, the mixture is ideal for overseeding your lawn during the coldest months.
This grass seed establishes quickly and germinates within four days, even in fall and winter. After a few weeks, expect a dense growth of fine-bladed grass, with a deep green color.
Sun Tolerance: Full Sun and Partial Shade | Climate: Southern | Size: 2,500 square feet | Grass Texture: Fine
Best for Warm Season: Water Saver Lawn Seed Mixture with Turf-Type Tall Fescue and RFT
Courtesy of The Home Depot
Thrives in sun and shade
Tolerates drought conditions
Not suited for Southern lawns
Water Saver contains a mixture of turf-quality tall fescue and RFT (rhizomatous tall fescue) seeds. The blend has a gorgeous color, a nice texture, and stands up to various diseases.
This lawn seed establishes quickly, roots deeply, and retains water, allowing it to tolerate high temps and drought conditions. It thrives in the sun or shade, and thanks to its deep roots, you can mow it shorter than other varieties.
Sun Tolerance: Full Sun and Partial Shade | Climate: Hot and Dry | Size: 1,000 square feet | Grass Texture: Coarse
Best Fast-Growing: Vigoro Fast Grass Seed Mix
Courtesy of The Home Depot
Great for spot treatments
Thrives in sun and shade
Only for existing lawns
Anytime you need speedy ground cover, erosion control, or want to repair patches in your yard, this is your best bet. Vigoro Fast Grass Mix germinates impressively quickly, and sprouts in as little as three days.
The seed works in sunny and shady areas, and produces lush, green grass with semi-fine blades and virtually no weeds. It’s ideal for temporarily filling in bare spots and, depending on when and where you plant it, you might see continued growth.
Sun Tolerance: Sun and Shade | Climate: Any | Size: 750 square feet | Grass Texture: Fine to Medium
Best Bermuda grass: Sta-Green Grass Seed Bermuda grass
Courtesy of Lowe’s
Grows back annually
99 percent weed-free
Longer germination period
Bermuda grass is a warm-weather perennial , meaning it flourishes in spring and summer, and grows back annually. This grass seed from Sta-Green contains a premium blend of 99 percent weed-free Bermuda grass.
The germination period is longer than other species (about two to three weeks). But thanks to a special QuickGrow2X coating, the mixture grows faster than other Bermuda grasses and resists disease. Soon enough, you can expect a beautiful lawn, with medium-textured grass that’s dense, lush, and feels good between your toes.
Sun Tolerance: Full Sun | Climate: Southern, Dry | Size: 5,000 square feet (max overseeding coverage area), 2,500 square feet (max new seeding coverage area) | Grass Texture: Fine to Medium
Best for Heavy Traffic: Jonathan Green Black Beauty Heavy Traffic Premium Grass Seed Mixture
Courtesy of Amazon
Stands up to heavy traffic
Resists weeds and insects
Comes in various sizes
Not suited for densely shaded areas
If you have kids, pets, or an otherwise busy household, we recommend Jonathan Green Black Beauty. The brand’s Heavy Traffic Premium Mixture contains a healthy blend of fescue and perennial ryegrass seeds. Fescue emits an amino acid that naturally acts as a herbicide, so it curbs emerging crabgrass and broadleaf weed seedlings. Not only that, but this reliable formula stands up to abrasion and naturally resists insects.
Sun Tolerance: Partial Sun | Climate: Hard Wear | Size: 1,200 square feet | Grass Texture: Coarse
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix is the best grass seed overall. The seeds’ special coating makes them more absorbent, allowing your turf to thrive year-round in sun or shade. However, if you have pets or kids and want something that can grow with heavy foot traffic, Jonathan Green Black Beauty Heavy Traffic Premium Grass Seed Mixture might be a better choice.
What to Look For When Buying Grass Seed
One of the most important things to keep in mind when buying grass seed is the climate, as some blends do better in certain regions. For instance, Bermuda grass is native to the southern hemisphere, so it thrives in the South and the Southwestern United States.
That being said, some grass species (such as fescue and ryegrass) can grow in a variety of climates. Be sure to check the product description before purchasing grass seed to confirm it can grow where you live.
Another thing to consider is the level of sun exposure your seedlings get. Species such as Bermuda grass and some types of ryegrass need at least a few hours of sunlight a day to thrive, whereas fescue can grow in densely shaded areas.
Some mixes are formulated to grow in sun or shade, any time of year. Check the product information before buying grass seed to make sure it’s suitable for the amount of sunlight your yard gets.
If you’re in the market for low-maintenance grass seed, look for an option that contains fertilizer. That way, your seedlings have the nourishment they need to grow quickly and flourish. Some blends also contain mulch, which helps keep the soil healthy, retains water, and prevents weed growth.
Speaking of weed growth, you may consider grass seed that specifically indicates it’s a weed-free (or 99 percent weed-free) formula. Additionally, some seeds are individually coated with a special substance that makes them more absorbent, meaning you don’t need to water as often, and disease resistant.
The best time to plant grass seed depends on the type of seed and the climate. However, since most mixtures germinate when temperatures aren’t too hot or cold, planting in the fall for a cool-season grass and spring for a warm-season grass is typically ideal. Seedlings thrive in semi-warm soil, with moderate daytime temperatures and slightly cooler evenings.
To prepare the soil for grass seed, start by removing any sticks, large rocks, and weeds from the surface. Then, break up the soil with a spade, hoe, garden fork, or core aerator, continuing to remove rocks and debris as you go. If your grass seed lacks fertilizer, add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before planting.
The goal is to keep the top layer of soil moist at all times, so water grass seed once or twice a day until it germinates. How much and how often depends on where you live and what the weather is like. When your seedlings reach about an inch tall, you can switch to watering every other day. After a few weeks, when the grass has established, weekly or bi-weekly watering should suffice.
Why Trust The Spruce?
The Spruce contributor Theresa Holland is an experienced commerce writer, with several years of experience covering home improvement. She’s spent countless hours researching yard care and landscaping products, not only for the content she writes but also for personal use. You can see more of her home-related stories on MyDomaine.
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
The Best Grass Seed for the Northeast of 2022. Bob Vila. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-grass-seed-for-northeast/
Rocha, Inês et al. Seed Coating: A Tool for Delivering Beneficial Microbes to Agricultural Crops. Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 10. pp. 1357, 2019. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.01357
Growing your lawn from grass seed: 3 easy steps
Planting grass seed is a way to expand your lawn into new areas and maximize the green space around your home. You can also plant new grass seed to improve your current lawn if it’s looking a little dingy. You can even use grass seed to restart your lawn completely.
Before you seed, start with some quick and easy prep work.
Make sure it’s the right time of year for seeding
As an easy rule, if you’re experiencing (or are about to experience) harsh temperatures you’ll want to wait until the extreme weather passes to plant your grass seed for best results.
Either spring or fall is the best time to plant, based on your region and grass type. To keep this simple, if you’re in the northern part of the country, you’re likely in the ‘cool season’ area, meaning the best time to plant grass seeds is the fall, or typically September through November. If you’re in the southern or middle regions, you’ll likely want to plant in spring or early summer, typically March – June.
Trying to plant seed out of season may still be possible, but it can make for slower growing and hurt the chances of the new grass’s survival. Just something to keep in mind.
Use the right type of grass seed for your area
Using the same regions shown above, you’ll want to buy a grass seed type that grows best in your climate.
- Cool season grasses (northern states) include: Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass and fescue.
- Transition zone grasses include: Zoysia, Fescue / Bluegrass blends, and Bluegrass / Perennial Ryegrass blends
- Warm season grasses include: Bermudagrass, Bahiagrass, Zoysia, and Centipede grass.
Pennington’s article on grass types based on more specific regions may be helpful if you’re still trying to decide.
Supplies you’ll need
Assuming that the timing is right, here’s what you’ll need to buy.
We recommend shopping on Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowes for fast and convenient selections. Home Depot will probably be able to provide more insight if you feel you’re still questioning what grass type or how much to buy.
Check out this article on the Spruce for the best grass seed picks in 2020.A pH Tester
This will be used to test your soil before adding the seed. You can find these on Amazon for around $10.
Grass feeder (aka fertilizer)
Once planted, the seed will need to start growing quickly, before surrounding weeds out-grow and kill it. Grass feeder should be applied right after the seeds are planted, so be sure to add this to your cart as well.
Here are the top 10 lawn fertilizers of 2020 based on BestReviews.Guide
To protect the seeds from blowing away, being burned by the sun, eaten by birds, etc. you’ll want to bury the seeds under a layer of nutrient-dense soil, like Scotts turf builder. Local nurseries and Home Depot or Lowes will have soil available, just make sure to explain your use before buying, to avoid any soil with weed seed.
3 easy steps to plant grass seed
Step 1: Prepare the surface of the lawn
Whether you are seeding for the very first time or just overseeding your existing thinned out lawn, you need to make sure you have a good, solid foundation. Make sure to remove weeds, rocks, sticks, and other debris from the lawn.
Check any uneven areas so you can try to level the ground before laying down any seed. This will help prevent water from collecting and pooling in low areas, which will cause the seed to rot.
Loosen the soil
If your soil is compacted, you will need to loosen at least the top four inches of soil. You can use a tiller or rake. This will allow air flow and will provide the best chance for vigorous growth.
You can also scatter out a thin layer of topsoil over the lawn at this stage. Since it is freshly laid, it will not be compacted, allowing good airflow. Make sure to keep enough left for coverage at the end.
Applying topsoil will also level out the lawn for a nice and even look, which will also help you avoid puddles when you are watering. If you encounter divots or holes, this is a good time to fill them in to prevent problem areas once the grass starts growing.
Step 2: Enrich your soil with nutrients to help grass seeds grow
If you’re planting new grass seed because your lawn is dead or struggling to grow, there may be deeper issues to address with your soil.
This is where you’ll need to get out your pH tester. Ideally, the pH for most grass types is between 6.0 and 7.0.
If your soil’s pH is under 6.0, it is too acidic, meaning it needs nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. Lime (aka limestone) can be applied to the soil to help increase the soil pH and make those nutrients more available.
If your soil’s pH is above a 7, add compost, peat, sulfur, or fertilizer to lower the pH.
Step 3: Lay and feed the grass seed
When laying down seeds, you must do a pretty heavy application for a brand new lawn. Try to maintain an even application over the entire area so that everything gets covered.
Alternatively, you need lighter coverage when overseeding an existing lawn. Put more grass seed in sparse areas to promote growth.
To lay the seed, you can just use your bare hands or a spreader for larger areas.
Cover up the seeds or work the seeds into the soil
When seed is only applied to the surface level of the ground, it will dry out quickly and will not germinate. It might also get washed away by water or wind.
Add another thin layer of the soil that you purchased onto your lawn to bury the seeds.
If you do not have soil to put on top of the seeds, the seed must be worked into the soil; about ⅓ to ½ inch deep. After sowing the seed, use a rake to work the seed into the soil and smooth the surface.
This will keep the water from evaporating immediately, thus keeping the ground moist. It also protects the seeds from wildlife.
Add your feeder
Once the seed is applied to the soil, treat the yard with fertilizer to accelerate growth.
Maintaining your lawn after seeding
Water every single day
The final step in successfully planting grass seed is to keep the lawn adequately moisturized all the time. This is very crucial in the process.
If the seed dries out, it will die. After sowing grass seed, they will need constant and frequent watering unlike the “water deeply and less frequently” watering for mature grass. This is to help the seed germinate and develop its root system for a healthy lawn.
On the other hand, overwatering will hinder the germination process as well, so you need to use just enough water to keep the soil moist at seed depth. It should be moist, never soggy.
You must commit to water the new or overseeded lawn at least two to three times every single day to keep the top inch of the soil moist at all times. The germination time for grass seed ranges from 5 to 30 days depending on the variety or longer in cooler temperatures.
Check moisture levels
Once the seedbed has started to establish itself and sprouts have begun to pop out, continue to check the ground’s moisture regularly. If you notice it getting dry, add some water.
Remember, these new grass seedlings have very short roots and they will still require very frequent watering so the roots can spread out. Steps one and two will just go to waste if the watering part will not be done appropriately, so your commitment is a must!
For after-care, whether you have seeded a new lawn or just filled in a bare spot, start mowing your grass after 8 weeks or until the grass has reached a mowing height. Do not cut it too short and do not cut more than one-third of its height as it will stress out the grass.
How long does new grass seed take to grow?
Generally speaking, it takes between 7 and 30 days for grass seed germination to begin.
Can you just sprinkle grass seed on top of your existing lawn?
While it’s possible to simply sow the new grass seed over your existing lawn, taking the time to prepare your lawn beforehand will increase the likelihood of seed germination and improve your end result.
Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?
Probably not. Some seeds on the soil’s surface will sprout, but the germination rate will diminish, and you will not be left with ideal results.
Will grass seed germinate on top of soil?
It depends how loose your soil is. Grass seeds are not strong enough to grow through soil. They’re meant to be placed on top of loose, prepared soil. Germination can quickly suffer from too much soil on top of them.
Weed And Seed Lowes
DIY lawn care is actually much much cheaper than you think and today I’m going to talk through it when it comes to fertilizing your lawn and turning in double-dark green.
I’ve done posts like this before but it came up again recently when I was talking this weekend about the “Easiest Way To Get a Green Lawn, Fast.” In that video I talk about the 3 primary elements you want to look for in any fertilizer if you want to get your lawn green.
All 3 of those elements work directly with, on, or in chlorophyll. It just so happens that it’s chlorophyll that makes grass green. Push the chlorophyll and you push the color of the lawn, deeper, greener and even bluer. Check out the video here if you missed it.
In that video, I made a recommendation for those of you who don’t want to slog to the store and get fertilizer but would rather have something delivered right to your door. That product is 24-0-6 Flagship and it just so happens to have nice amounts of all 3 elements, and in some cases, those elements are in higher concentrations than anything found at your big box retailer anyway.
But why is the bag so expensive?
Answer: it isn’t when you break it down.
24-0-6 Flagship (with 3% Iron) and Bio-Nite™ – Granular Lawn Fertilizer is a 45lb bag and the cost is $55 delivered (includes shipping). So for sure, there is some shipping cost in there that takes the sticker price up some, but what I have done is formulated it to work REALLY well with a lower rate or what we call “fewer pounds on the ground.”
If you want to know the secret, that’s really it. I formulate my DIY lawn fertilizers to work VERY well at low rates. Throwing down less and getting the same results – let’s take a look.
Flagship DIY Granular Fertilizer: 45lbs
Application Rate: 3lbs/1,000 (this means you spread 3lbs of product across each 1,000 sq ft of lawn area)
Bag covers: 15,000 sq ft 45/3 = 15
So you can get 15,000 sq ft of coverage from just one bag. To find out how much this will cost you for a single application, you have to know your lawn size.
Don’t Let The Math Deter You!
If this is starting to get confusing, please DO NOT click away – instead, get yourself some DIY Yard Care training. I have helped thousands of DIYers learn how to care for their lawns by teaching them the basics of lawn care and a lot of that starts with things like understanding your lawn size, and learning the lay of your land.
Before buying any fertilizer, invest in yourself by getting some good training that will set you up for success now and in the future. It’s full video and audio training plus a forum where we answer your questions. I’ll teach you all about fertilizers, what they do and how to apply them and why. We talk about all grass types too. You also get your choice of my warm or cool season full e-guide at the end of the course.
It’s all there, and I know you’ll be more confident after completing this training. Sign up for Yard Care BootCamp here. It’s never too late to invest in yourself so you can translate the knowledge to your lawn.
If You Have a 5,000 Sq Ft Lawn
And we know that a bag of Flagship covers 15,000 sq ft, and you have a typical 5,000 sq ft lawn, then you can get 3 applications from one bag. At a cost of $55 for the bag, that means each application only costs you $18.33.
Not too expensive is it?
Now compare that to a bag of Scotts lawn food at the local Home Depot.
Can you see in the top right that this bag covers 5,000 sq ft? And what is the cost?
Pretty much the same as you getting some Flagship from me and having it sent right to your door.
So far we know Flagship is slightly cheaper and for sure more convenient. But how do these ferts stack up when it comes to nutrients?
I’ll tell you now – both are going to turn your lawn green. There really isn’t a “bad” fertilizer. And any company that is going to take the time to get themselves into a Home Depot is going to make sure their stuff brings the green. Plus, we all know Scotts: your dad and grandad used their products and had an awesome lawn right?
I can also tell you that Flagship works. My DIY friends all over FaceBook are posting results pics nearly everyday.
So how do these two stack up, side by side? Let’s look at the label:
The Scotts on the left has more nitrogen, that’s for sure. However, Flagship contains more potassium and more iron. Overall we can look at those as a wash.
Now the Scotts does have Sulfur and that is an important element, so I have to give them that one, but look at all the other minor nutrients that Flagship delivers for you.
Boron, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc. You will find those in short supply in many soil tests and here they are, riding along with the Nitrogen, Potassium and iron.
What About Bio-Nite?
Now, let’s look at one more differentiator and that’s the filler material. Truth be told, all fertilizers are actually mostly just “filler” material. There is only so much nutrient you can pack in before it becomes overkill so the rest is filler material to help make the fert easy to spread.
Most companies use something benign as their filler material – you could even say “useless” – and that’s ok. It’s just what is done.
With Flagship, however, I go a step further and add 10% of my filler as Bio-Nite. Bio-Nite is the Florida version of Milorganite and it contains additional slow release nutrients, including additional chelated iron, calcium and some other goodies. These are not claimed on the label because we use them as filler – but they are still there and they deliver the smell of success in the fert.
That smell of success is also great for building overall soil health because natural additives like biosolids (Bio-Nite is a biosolid) increase the soil’s overall carbon percentage. You don’t get that with the cheaper fillers used in the Scotts.
Lastly, there is the small business angle. Yard Mastery is now entering its third year in business my team and I work hard everyday to help our customers succeed while creating positive content for this community I have been building for more than a decade now. So let me once again say, “Thank you for supporting an American small business!”
I hope you’ve learned something here – even if you never buy fert from me, I hope you will take the thinking, approach and strategy I’ve taught you today and take better control of your budget as you continue on your DIY lawn care journey!