What is the best grass seed for Utah?
The “best” grass is dependent on what the goal of the grass is. Drought resistance, traffic tolerance, best for shade, low maintenance, and best striping are some common grass goals. Here are some of the most common grasses used in Utah lawns:
Kentucky bluegrass is a popular choice for lawns in Utah because it thrives in the cooler climate and can tolerate the hot summers. It is known for its fine texture and rich green color.
Perennial ryegrass is another great option for Utah lawns because it can handle the hot summers and cold winters. It has a fine texture and germinates quickly, making it a good choice for overseeding. Ryegrass responds well to fertilizer, stripes well, and is often underutilized in Utah. Usually, it is included in a mix but is seldom showcased to its full potential as Kentucky Bluegrass has traditionally become the grass variety that more people know by name.
Fine fescue is a cool-season grass that grows well in Utah’s cooler climate. It is drought-tolerant and can handle shade, making it a great choice for lawns with trees or other shade-providing structures.
Tall fescue is a hardy grass that can handle Utah’s hot summers and cold winters. It is drought-resistant and has a coarser texture than other grasses, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas. Tall fescue is often misdiagnosed as “crabgrass” when it clumps and creates quite a contrast with other varieties around it. For this reason, we highly discourage tall fescue.
When choosing the best grass seed for your lawn, it’s important to consider factors such as climate, soil type, how much sun or shade your lawn receives, and how much effort you want to put into lawn care. It’s also a good idea to consult with a local gardening or landscaping professional who can provide expert advice on the best grass seed for your specific needs. What most people don’t realize is that most lawns are a mix of multiple breeds and sub-breeds with the purpose of having a “well-rounded” lawn with some of the best properties. In most cases, this is probably the best, most user-friendly, idea.
When is the best time to seed/overseed my lawn?
The best time to seed or overseed a lawn in Utah is during the fall, typically from mid-August to mid-September. This is because the soil is still warm from the summer months, which helps with seed germination, and the cooler day temperatures and increased moisture of the fall season provide ideal growing conditions for grass.
In addition to the ideal time of year, it’s important to prepare the area properly before seeding or overseeding. This involves removing any weeds or dead grass, loosening the soil, and adding nutrients such as fertilizer or compost. A moister retaining material such as peat moss can also aid in keeping the seed wet and covering it slightly to help reduce birds or other critters attempting to eat the seed. It’s also important to water the lawn frequently after seeding to keep the soil moist and promote healthy growth.
If you miss the window for fall seeding, spring can also be a good time to seed or overseed in Utah. The issue with spring is that a freeze can come along and wipe out young seeds, so watch the forecast as a cold spell in May or even early June isn’t all that uncommon. While grass seeds will grow in the summer, it is the most challenging time as high temperatures can burn young seedlings right up. 90 degrees with a slight breeze can dry soil in less than an hour so it can be very touchy.
Common problems with overseeding
We often hear about failures or partial fails with trying to grow a lawn from seed. While it isn’t rocket science, there are a handful of main problems that we generally see. Hopefully knowing what the common problems are can help you to avoid them and be successful in your grass-growing journey.
Poor soil preparation
If the soil is not properly prepared before planting, the seed may not be able to take root and grow properly. This can include issues such as soil compaction, poor drainage, and lack of nutrients. Spend a little time tilling, or at least hand raking, and mixing in some additives or soil conditioners such as compost, mulch, and nutrient-dense topsoil.
Watering is crucial for seed germination, and if the soil is too dry or too wet, the seeds may not be able to grow. This is the #1 cause of failed grass that we see. In order to reach maturity, the seed must germinate and not dry out for at least 3 but maybe even up to 5 weeks. Watering may have to occur 10 or 12 times a day to keep the seed moist. The idea is a very light watering anytime the soil starts to look “not wet”. Puddles will wash seed away so there is a balance but if the grass seed dries out, it will die, and that’s it, it doesn’t come back.
If the seed is of poor quality or has been stored improperly, it may not be able to germinate or grow properly. Where seed isn’t that expensive, we recommend not skimping. Big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowes are not the ideal place to buy grass seed.
Competition from weeds
Weeds can compete with the grass seed for nutrients, sunlight, and water, which can prevent the seed from growing or cause the seedlings to become stunted. This is often caused by poor preparation and existing weeds were not fully killed. If the area isn’t ready, then just wait to plant. Round-Up (glyphosate) should be sprayed at least twice prior to planting if weeds are a problem. Round-Up has a short residual life so you should be fine to plant within a couple of days of a killer application.
Grass is an art and grass seed grows best where the area is prepared, fertilized, and watered properly, go