Reading Grass Seed Labels
There have been tremendous advances in lawn seed technology over the
past 7 — 10 years, resulting in many improved varieties that are more
insect, disease and drought resistant available to the homeowner. Yet
over half of the lawns in North America are over 7 years old.
Not all grass seed is the same, particularly when considering buying
grass seed for the establishment of a permanent lawn.
The label is the best way to learn about a seed's quality. Every label
is required by law to have an analysis panel to tell consumers exactly
what's in the bag.
Rather than buying your next seed by the picture on the box, or the
general advertising claims of the supplier, turn to the seed label on
the back. There are a large number of new grass seed varieties available
to the homeowner as single improved varieties, blends, and mixtures
that provide a more environmentally sound lawn than just a few years
ago. But you must have an understanding of the seed label to help you
make a more informed buying decision.
Typical label contents
Name of seed variety
Each kind (VARIETY) of lawn seed is listed by its percentage (PURITY)
by weight in the box or bag. Improved varieties have characteristics
that are patentable under the Federal Plant Variety Protection (PVP)
Act. Thus, you should find specific trade names of varieties rather
than the generic
names: i.e. Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue.
For example, Unique Kentucky bluegrass, Brightstar perennial ryegrass
and Shademaster II creeping fescue are trade names.
The germination figure is an important percentage because it tells
you how much of each pure seed variety listed will "sprout"
and is capable of growing a grass plant. The higher the percentage,
This is any substance in the container not capable of growth. It could
be broken seed that couldn't be removed, or a filler added to take up
space. The lower the percentage of inert matter, the better.
Any weed seed present is listed by percentage of weight. We really
don't want any weed seeds in our seed container, but it is difficult
and expensive to catch all weed seeds during the cleaning process.
Acceptable limits range from 0.3% — 0.5% The higher the percentage
of weed seed shown on the label, the poorer the quality you are buying.
Most states have listed weeds so troublesome and undesirable that their
presence must be stated on the seed label. For a quality lawn, you want
to avoid boxes or bags with noxious weeds listed. Your label should
read: NONE FOUND.
There is other important information on the label that you should read
and be aware of:
The name of the producer/distributor
Where each variety was grown
Lot number used for tracing the container through the marketing
When the seed lot was tested.
Many state laws require that a bag or box be retested and relabeled
after 9 months — 1 year if not sold. You should check and be aware
of the month and year the seed was tested.
There are many places where non-perennial annual grasses are beneficial
to the environment, however this grass seed should not be purchased
to establish or renovate a permanent lawn. Improved perennial varieties
are your best buy for a permanent lawn.