Grass seed recommendation

Asked January 10, 2018, 4:49 PM EST

For some reason, my lawn now is unusually bare. It is in partial shade from two large elm trees. I would like a recommendation for a quick cover grass seed to put down before the first significant snow fall (Jack Eden) recommendation. I tend to think rye grass would be good. Then in the fall I could reseed with tall fescue. I do aerate each fall. thank you in advance,

Montgomery County Maryland lawns and turf plant care normal growth dormant seeding advice

1 Response

We don't recommend winter or so-called "dormant seeding". It is largely unsuccessful for multiple reasons.

Soil temperatures are too cold now to allow for germination. It would sit there and likely degrade, be eaten or blow away, until late spring when soil temperatures warm to levels that will allow for germination.

The best time to seed cool-season grasses is in the September to early October timeframe. For best results, seed should be in the ground no later than October 15 in our region. The goal at establishment is to have seed germinate, grow, and be cut a few times prior to winter weather.

The Jack Eden (he died close to 10 years ago) recommendation my have involved Kentucky bluegrass seed, which can survive when dormant seeded, but is not the best type of grass to grow successfully in our area.


Turf-type tall fescues (and fine fescue mix for shady areas) are current recommendations. Perennial rye is often found in cheaper seed mixes, but isn't recommended to be more than about 5% of the bag by weight. (Read labels, it's all there by law.)

The absolute best time to seed is in the late summer into fall, and after aeration is great. There is another window in the spring, but because of weed pressure from things like crabgrass, it's not the best.

Your problem with the shade is worth thinking about. Growing good, thick turfgrass under large trees is difficult and often frustrating. You could try a fine-fescue mix, which is better for shade, but those trees are competitive for water, and those grasses aren't as robust (they need less foot traffic, etc) as tall fescues.

Some people find that mulching those areas or planting island beds with shade loving flowers or shrubs works for them, instead of trying to re-seed each year.

Take a look at our Lawn Renovation and Overseeding publication at this link:

http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG102-Rev-...

It has every step detailed on how, when and what to do for best lawn success.


cm