Grass seed

Asked December 31, 2017, 11:31 PM EST

I have tried for years with different kinds of grass seed and haven’t had much luck with growing. I always overseed in the fall. This time the results were not so good. I may have been putting too much down. So my question: What grass seed would you recommend for a spring reseed for the Crofton MD area? I have sun and shade areas, with one particular area almost all shade. Thanks,

Anne Arundel County Maryland

5 Responses

It's almost impossible to grow grass in heavy shade. (Think: forests=no grass.) The shadier, the more difficult it is. You can plant beds of ferns or shrubs nicely in deep shade, though. Looks good and is natural for shade. Another option is mulch where grass won't grow. Whatever you decide, avoid invasive groundcovers such as English ivy like the plague. (Also, tree roots make heavy shade a very dry, competetive environment for other plants.)

For less shady areas, use fine fescue. For sunnier areas, use tall fescue. Read carefully through our online publication on successful lawn care and you may be able to see what is causing problems with your seedings:

Fall is the best time to seed--early fall. As early as late August. Watering is absolutely crucial during the sprouting period. One dry day can kill all the seed.

We may be able to be more specific in recommendations if we had more information about your seeding methods and practices.


Well with the last couple years I have hired someone to aerate and over seed (not sure what seed he puts down) in the fall. He does put down about 10 lbs. I come back behind that and over seed the over seed (probably to much) no less than 50 lbs for my 10,000 SF yard with house on that. Than I thinly throw organic Compro all over. I get what I call a burst of grass but than over 1/2 dies out. This last fall I did the same but I can see come spring the lawn is going to need a lot of work to get grass growing again. We do have a dog in the fenced in back yard that likes to run (that don't help either). I do have an irrigation system which during the fall seeding process I used every day. Neighbors around me do nothing and their lawns look fairly good. It's like I'm trying way to hard. Suggestions?

Definitely take the time to read through the publication that was supplied at the link above, as it has all the information you need to get the best results, including a link to soil testing, prepping the soil, how to pick out the best seed mixes, etc.
The make-up and the quality of the seed definitely makes a difference, as does the timing so that the grass is up and growing and well-established before the ground freezes for winter. Cheaper grass seeds often contain grass seed, like perennial rye, that sprout and green up quickly, but have disease problems and tend to die out.
The aeration idea is good. If you are tilling in the compost and doing a complete renovation, tall fescue seeding rates are 6-8 # per 1,000 sf., and less for fine fescue shade mixes. See here:

The problem of a running dog is common and there really aren't good suggestions (outside of a kennel) other than to keep the grass as thick and healthy as possible, which you are doing.
The other option is to accept some (more desireable?) "weeds" like clover into the yard, which has some advantages.
As noted above, deeply shady areas will always be frustrating for growing grass, so consider alternatives.


Thank you for your responses. Every year I overseed in the fall but this year coming I can tell fall 2017 overseeding didn't take well. I will overseed fall of 2018 but in the 2018 spring I feel I will need to do something to get the lawn going again even though the spring is not the desirable time. What do you think of the Bermuda grass seed? I'm just looking for good grass ground cover at this point. The dog runs in the yard and i have no intentions of penning him up for the sake of establishing the lawn to an great state. He needs to run and be free to do this. Or do you think another seed would be good for just a good ground cover? At this point I'll take just about anything so long as something grows. Thanks....

Bermuda grass seed is a warm season grass, goes dormant in the winter, and requires FULL sun. Most homeowners try to get rid of it and if happy will spread to other areas and will be difficult to control.

You may want to consider sod this spring if the area is full sun to part shade. Certified sod contains tall fescue with some blue grass to help it knit together. Keep the dogs off the sod until it establishes. Consider mulching an area for your dogs to run and do their business.

If the area is full shade, mulch and plant some shade perennials or groundcovers. . No grass will grow in this area and we do not have a recommendation for seed. Here is a good article on lawns and dogs. Some homeowners have used astro turf with dogs and are happy with the results.

If you decide to sod or seed, begin with a soil test, prepare the site, and proper care. See our publication on lawn establishment and look at installing sod on page 6 and site preparation on page 4.