9 Best Grass Seeds for Your Lawn | How To Choose

Lawns have a lengthy and ever-evolving history. While their cultivation began as markers of prestige and economic position, they now support everyday people in enjoying the outdoors. Especially, around their homes. 

Through years of nurturing my own green spaces, I’ve discovered that honing your lawn care skills often entails trial-and-error exercises in seeding, watering, fertilizing, weeding, and mowing. 

My biggest lesson is, how to choose the best grass seed for the right situation. Keep reading and I’ll share the results of my extensive experimentation and reveal the best options for different states.

Best Grass Seed Top Picks 

Whether you’re over-seeding, patching, or starting a cool or warm-season lawn from scratch, successful tips for lush, green lawns are just a quick read away. If you simply need fast, reliable recommendations for the best grass seed, though, here are my top four picks. 

Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Sun or Shade Grass Seed

Best All-Purpose Seed

Black Beauty Ultra Sun Or Shade

This mix of Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue creates a pest and disease-resistant lush, cool-season lawn in just 7-14 days. 

2. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix 

Best For Shady Areas

Scotts Turf Builder Dense Shade Mix 

Formulated to thrive in the scorching summers and frigid winters of northern climates. Provides fast germination even in shady spots. 

3. Pennington Smart Seed Bermuda Grass Full Sun Seed And Fertilizer 

Best For Full Sun

Pennington Smart Seed Full Sun

This combination of Bermudagrass seed and fertilizer provides exceptional tolerance to heat, drought, and high traffic for southern lawns. 

Scotts PatchMaster Mixed Sun Or Shade Grass Spot Repair 

Best For Overseeding

Scotts PatchMaster Grass Spot Repair 

This seed blend includes eco-friendly mulch and essential nutrients for six weeks of fast, new growth and a seamless sea of green even in shady areas.

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Choosing the Best Grass Seed 

Choosing the right grass seed is important because the wrong decision could be costly. Some come with caveats that may not be helpful.

For example, some ”quick repair” mixes typically contain annual ryegrass seeds. These germinate fast and sprout a dark color.

The problem is annual ryegrass will mature to a lighter green than the rest of your lawn, resulting in uneven color. Only living for one season, it’s quick to go to seed. If you don’t like it, it’s very hard to get rid of. 

Let’s take a look now at some other important considerations. 

Regional Climate 

There are three climate zones in which to categorize lawn seed varieties.

  • Warm season – for regions where temperatures are between 60-90°F. In late fall, grass goes dormant, then greens again, in spring.
  • Cool season –  for areas that experience temperature fluctuations, between freezing winters and hot, dry summers.
  • Transitional – Cultivated to grow and flourish where cool and warm regions meet. 

Types of Cool Season Grasses 

Without proper irrigation and fertilization, cool-season grasses still can turn brown and patchy in really hot weather. So, seeding should be done in the cooler months of early spring or early fall. These include:

  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Tall Fescue
  • Fine Fescue
  • Kentucky Bluegrass 

Types of Warm Season Grasses 

Conversely, warm-season grasses go dormant and brown with the onset of cooler weather. Seeding and patching these lawn types should take place in late spring. Warm season varieties include:

Drought Tolerance 

Some grass varieties are able to stay green because they’re either naturally water-efficient or because their deep roots can access more water in the soil.

Others may temporarily go dormant, but quickly recover when conditions improve. Interestingly, all grasses are more drought-tolerant when they are properly mowed and fertilized. 

Tolerance of Sun or Shade 

Flexibility with sun exposure is generally dictated by a particular grass type’s natural adaptation and biology. Some, like fescues, St. Augustine, and Zoysia, are perfectly comfortable and thrive in partial shade.

Others, like bermudagrass and Kentucky bluegrass, won’t tolerate anything less than full sun exposure. 

Level of Maintenance 

Even grasses that claim “low-maintenance” still require proper seeding, watering, fertilizing, and mowing, in order to thrive. But, the right grass seed, for your region and climate, can keep all that effort to a minimum. 

Durability to High Traffic 

How much “foot traffic” your lawn can take starts with the hardiness of your chosen grass seed. 

Tolerance to a high activity means a seed that forms a robust lawn that doesn’t thatch and isn’t too fine or too coarse.  Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Bermuda grass fit this bill, perfectly. 

Grass Seed Germination and Growth Rate 

Germination rates naturally depend on the grass type and environmental conditions. When cared for correctly you can expect the following:

  • Bermudagrass: 10 – 30 days
  • Centipede: 14 – 21 days
  • Kentucky bluegrass: 14 – 30 days
  • Perennial ryegrass: 5 – 10 days
  • Fescues: 7 – 12 days
  • Zoysia: 14 – 21 days 

Fastest Growing Grass Seed 

The fast-growing cool-season grasses include ryegrass, rough bluegrass, and tall fescue. Germinating within 5-12 days and fully maturing in eight weeks.

The fast-growing warm-season varieties include Bermudagrass, centipede, and Buffalo grass. Given their longer growing seasons, these take an extended 10-30 days to germinate, maturing in 6-11 weeks. 

New Lawn Seed vs Overseeding 

The difference between these is simply a matter of how you’re using new seeds.  Starting a new lawn, on bare topsoil, can be a satisfying process. It can also be cost-effective, and long-term when you begin with healthy soil and the right seed.

Overseeding is for existing lawns that need revitalizing. It’s an inexpensive way to restore a lush, green lawn without having to start over. 

Pollinator Lawn Mix 

Pollinator seed mixes are formulated to support a currently-distressed pollinator population while providing homeowners with a lush, durable lawn.

Growing this type of lawn myself recently, I can attest that this mix of flowering clover and low-growing grass seed results in the most cost-effective and low-maintenance lawn possible. 

Best Grass Seed Reviews 

As previously mentioned, I’ve conducted some extensive testing to determine the best cool and warm-season seed. 

The following include specific product details to allow you an informed decision. Below are the nine that came out on top, as the best performers. Based on performance, versatility, and ease of use.  

This effective combination of Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue creates a robust, cool-season lawn with a resilient root system. Mixing grass strains also generates a natural and vigorous resistance to pests and disease.

Within 2 weeks, vibrant, new blades sprouted across my test areas, in both full sun and shaded areas. By mid-summer, a perennial lawn with even color and consistent texture appeared.

  • Climate: Drought, Cold Winters
  • Light: Full Sun or Partial Shade
  • Texture: MediumCoverage: Up to 9,375 sq. ft.

This Turf Builder blend from Scotts carries astonishing versatility. Formulated to thrive in the often scorching, dry summers and frigid winters of northern climates, these seeds produce a fine-blade turf that thrives in the most intense sunlight and the darkest spots.

Each seed is wrapped in a protective, nutrient-based coating for fast and hardy germination in as little as five days. Safeguarding each blade against an array of lawn diseases.

  • Climate: Drought, Cold Winters
  • Light: Dense Shade to Full Sun
  • Texture: Fine
  • Coverage: Up to 8,000 square feet 

For southern lawns, Pennington’s intelligent seed-and-fertilizer combination results in Bermudagrass lawns with an exceptional tolerance for heat, drought, and high traffic.

Turf is thicker and more robust with twice the number of seeds applied, per square foot. As recommended on the label.

The addition of early-germinating, cool-season seeds extended the active-growing season of my test lawn. By sprouting in early spring, then stepping aside as warm-season seeds germinated and took center stage.

  • Climate: Drought, Warm Climates
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Texture: Moderately Fine
  • Coverage: Up to 1,000 square feet 

Hot summers (and dogs!) can mean bare patches on your lawn. Scotts Patchmaster blend includes eco-friendly mulch and essential nutrients for six weeks of fast, new growth, efficient moisture retention, and a seamless sea of green through all areas of your landscape.

Overseeding your beloved dogs’ favorite spots is a breeze and within just 5 days you can expect to sprout blades that can grow up to two inches, in just one week! Bear in mind that you will need to keep re-seeded areas consistently moist until fully established. 

  • Light: Full Sun and Shade
  • Texture: Fine
  • Coverage: Bare spot 145 sq. ft, Thin area: 290 sq. ft. 

This second, cool-season seed blend takes lush, green lawns from dappled sunlight to areas that are heavily shaded by densely-canopied trees or regions with few days of bright sunlight, like the Pacific Northwest.

This strategically calculated mix of tall fescue, creeper, chewing, and perennial ryegrass creates a lawn that’s highly efficient at utilizing minimal light to photosynthesize. Even in nutrient-poor soil conditions.

  • Climate: Drought, Cold Winters
  • Light: Partial to Dense Shade
  • Texture: Moderately Fine
  • Coverage: Covers up to 3,500 sq. ft. 

This complete, cool-season blend of seed, mulch, and professional-grade fertilizer proves an effective alternative to Groundwork’s shade option by increasing a lawn’s ability to use limited water and sunlight more efficiently.

This proprietary “smart seed” mix can be used to oversee densely shaded areas of your lawn or grow new lawns from scratch, in just 7-14 days.

  • Climate: Cool-season
  • Light: Dense Shade
  • Texture: Medium
  • Coverage: 125 square feet 

Not to be outdone, Groundwork’s coated Bahia grass blend is ideal for re-energizing southern, warm-season lawns. Maintaining a vibrant green turf, with impressive shade tolerance, along coastal regions with (often inhospitable) sandy, salty soil.

This Pensacola blend is popular for open pasture applications, where the effects of scorching and drought are common. As Bahia seed is very successful where other grass types fail. 

Grass grown on gritty roadsides will also see new life when overseeded, in spring.

  • Climate: Warm-season
  • Light: Full Sun to Partial shade
  • Texture: Medium
  • Coverage: Up to 5000 sq ft. 

For cool-season lawns, this combination of Kentucky Bluegrass seeds, essential nutrients, and moisture retention, results in a thicker, greener turf that self-repairs from the toughest heat, drought, and traffic damage. Making this another ideal choice for new and established lawns grown in transitional climate zones.

Seed can be spread in spring and fall, while temperatures remain between 60° and 80°F.

  • Climate: Transitional season areas
  • Light: Full Sun to Partial shade
  • Texture: Moderately fineCoverage: Up to 4,725 sq. ft. for reseeding and 2,331 for new lawn coverage

My final pick is for the mother of all lawns, the fairway. This means this blend of several Tall Fescue strains will green up any smaller lawn.

Deep roots, typical of Fescue varieties, can store and utilize limited moisture more efficiently. 

A uniform application, over bare topsoil or an established lawn, will create a single organism capable of rooting out weeds, tolerating prolonged heat and drought, and preventing brown patches. 

  • Climate: Transitional season areas
  • Light: Full Sun to Partial shade
  • Texture: Moderately fine
  • Coverage: 3 lb. bag covers: 375 sq. ft. for new lawns, 750 sq. ft. for overseeding 

Verdict: Best Grass Seed 

Are you ready to grow a beautiful lawn? On my trial-and-error journey to discover the best grass seed, the verdict has been variable. The local climate, light exposure, and soil conditions are key factors in making a successful seed choice.  

Start by testing your soil. These results will dictate any additions you need such as fertilizer, or mulch. Light availability will determine specific seed features including heat/drought resistance or shade tolerance.

And finally, be mindful of your local climate and the types of grass that will thrive there. Warm-season, cool-season, or transitional?

Once this equation has been established, the road to a lush, resilient lawn will be smooth sailing. 

Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Sun or Shade Grass Seed

Best All-Purpose Seed

Black Beauty Ultra Sun Or Shade

This mix of Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue creates a pest and disease-resistant lush, cool-season lawn in just 7-14 days. 

Best Grass Seed by Region 

In the US, grass seed categories are broken down by region.

Cool-season varieties:

  • The Pacific Northwest – Cool and humid
  • The Midwest and Northeast – Cool and humid
  • The Intermountain West and much of the Great Plains – Cool and arid

Warm-season varieties:

  • The Southeast – Warm and humid 
  • The Southwest – Warm and arid

For the best state-specific seed options:

Best Grass Seed For Florida 

Bahia and Centipede grasses grow best in Florida’s mixed terrain. Bahia grass has a far-reaching and deep root system, which allows it to perform better in sandy, coastal regions. Centipede grass is heat-tolerant and low-maintenance. Standing up well in inland regions with excessive temperatures. 

Best Grass Seed For Michigan 

Michigan requires rugged, cold-tolerant grass, especially along the great lakes. Kentucky bluegrass is the most common turf grass used here, due to its high cold tolerance. Perennial Ryegrass is a good, cold-hardy choice, germinating and greening up quickly, in spring. 

Best Grass Seed For Ohio 

Being in a transitional zone, Ohio is home to a number of grass varieties. Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescues, and fine fescues all thrive here, due to their ability to hold up against high heat and drought. As well as, severe winter conditions. 

Best Grass Seed For Colorado 

In Colorado, hot summers and cold winters are intensified by higher altitudes and thinner air. The rhizomatous roots of Kentucky Bluegrass are able to capture and utilize these environmental conditions for maximum benefit. Fescues also grow well here, with a bit more maintenance. 

Best Grass Seed For Maryland 

What grass seed performs best in Maryland depends on what part of the state you’re growing it in. The northern half experiences colder winters and typically accommodates tall and fine fescues in its loamy soil. Southern Maryland is significantly warmer and more commonly hosts Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. 

Best Grass Seed For Minnesota 

Bordering Canada, Minnesota is known for severe winters and warm summers. Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and most fescues will thrive in both full sun and shady areas that are well-draining. However, these turf varieties may not survive, if planted too close to saturated banks along Minnesota’s many rivers. 

Best Grass Seed For Virginia 

Virginia is another transitional zone state. As a worry-free grass seed, tall and fine fescues have proven resilient in each of Virginia’s distinct seasons and soil types. In the warmer zones of West Virginia, Zoysia and Centipede grasses are more common. 

Best Grass Seed For Georgia 

In balmy Georgian weather, warm-season grass types, like Bermudagrass and Zoysia can tolerate the occasional cold spell, while being tolerant of heat and drought. However, Bermudagrass is more resilient in northern regions compared to the success of Zoysia seeds, closer to the Gulf. 

Best Grass Seed For Wisconsin 

Wisconsin, another cold-winter state, is home to many cool-season types of grass like Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescues. Here, Bluegrass seeds quickly germinate and vigorously grow, in full sun. While ryegrasses and fescues perform better in shaded areas and those with heavy foot traffic. 

Best Grass Seed For New York 

On the shores of the Atlantic, New York state can experience harsh, winter conditions. A mix of Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescues, or Bentgrass seed is the most commonly grown, here. Having a high tolerance for severe, winter weather and resistance to disease and pests, in summer. 

Best Grass Seed For New England 

In the states that make up New England, cool-season grasses possess the durability required for increasingly fierce weather conditions. Here, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye, and Fescue seeds will germinate quicker than warm-season varieties and green up faster, in spring.

Best Grass Seed For North Carolina 

From the mountains to the coastal plains of North Carolina, Bermudagrass and Tall fescues have adapted to be reliable performers, year-round, and easily started from seed. The deep root systems of these enable strong resistance to heat, drought, and pest infestations. 

Best Grass Seed For Missouri 

In this transitional zone of Missouri, fescues are the most defiant of heat, drought, disease, and pests than other cool-season varieties. Ryegrass and bluegrass seeds are also frequently sown. In the Southern region, warm-season Bermudagrass and Zoysia lawns are more common. 

How Much Grass Seed Do I Need 

Knowing how much grass seed you need, per square foot of land, is key to growing a thick and healthy lawn. Even the best watering, fertilizing, and mowing practices won’t prevent a patchy lawn if seed is applied sparingly or unevenly. 

Recommendations will vary, depending on the type of seed you’re sowing. But, the general rule of thumb is, at least, 2-3lbs of seed per 1,000 square feet. 

FAQs Choosing The Best Grass Seed